Bengals’ Browning on post-game reaction to win over Vikings: ‘I fully lost my mind’

CINCINNATI — Jake Browning said he had one regret about his reaction after the game-winning field goal sailed through the uprights to seal the overtime win over his former Minnesota Vikings team last weekend.

The Cincinnati Bengals quarterback went right up to one of the team videographers, looked right into the camera and screamed: “Shoulda never (expletive) cut me.”

Browning ended up in Cincinnati in 2021, his first two years on the practice squad, after the Vikings moved on from him with final cuts and left him in a hotel waiting on word that would never come if he would be joining their practice squad. He had downplayed the meaning behind facing his former team last week but afterward it quickly became apparent it was a revenge game of sorts.

“I fully lost my mind,” Browning said. “I think my one regret with that was you go watch the film, it’s never as good, never as bad as you thought, and, we played unbelievable at a lot of positions that weren’t quarterback. ... And then I have an authentic reaction to — you know, you keep it all pent up and then it comes out — but I guess my biggest regret was that game turned into like my revenge game, when in reality there were so many things that went into getting that win. Making sure it’s acknowledged it wasn’t just my revenge game, it was a great team win.”

If last week was a revenge game, this week is Browning’s chance to further prove how far he’s come over the past month since replacing injured Joe Burrow. Browning gets a second chance against Pittsburgh, the only team he will play twice in the regular season, after a disappointing NFL starting debut on Nov. 26.

Browning was decent, completing 19 of 26 passes for 227 yards and one touchdown, but it wasn’t enough as the Bengals converted just 2 of 10 third downs and fell short 16-10 at home. Now the Bengals travel to Pittsburgh looking for their first AFC North win and a chance to extend a three-game winning streak that followed that first loss to the Steelers.

“I think having a little bit of success under your belt helps confidence and having a week or a couple weeks of feeling like your preparation was where you wanted it to be, and being able to replicate that kind of went into that,” Browning said. “I think little things like, in the Pittsburgh game the first time, I really wanted to like operate well in the huddle, so I was really practicing making sure I was spitting out play calls clean. ... So, I feel more confident with stuff like that after a couple games. And so now you can really focus on the different looks and going through your reads and stuff like that.”

Cincinnati has tweaked its offense with Browning the last three games, but coach Zac Taylor said having faced Pittsburgh and the “high-end talent” on that defense once already also should help in Browning’s preparation. He was sacked four times, including twice by T.J. Watt, who also had a forced fumble. Browning was picked off once as well.

Browning still remembers the feeling of his first loss as a starter and how much it hurt, so he doesn’t take for granted what these last three wins have meant for the team. He’s thrown for 953 yards and five touchdowns with two interceptions and a 76.7 percent completion rate over that three-game stretch.

Both teams on Saturday are fighting for a playoff spot, and Cincinnati currently has an advantage sitting in the No. 6 spot in the AFC standings, while the Steelers are 10th. Every week amid a playoff race, there’s pressure, but Browning said he doesn’t think about the big picture. He’s focused on the Steelers and getting that next win.

“This is a pretty humbling league,” Browning said. “I think the second you start stepping back and trying to look at the bigger picture and reading into whatever someone’s saying, you’re gonna get got. And I think the idea would be to avoid that. I’ve seen some really good quarterbacks play really well and then they go into a week and the defense hits them with something that they weren’t ready for. Maybe they weren’t prepared like they should’ve been or who knows, maybe they did prepare really well and they just went in thinking ‘we’re playing well and we’re just gonna kill these guys.’ But I can guarantee you the Pittsburgh Steelers do not care that we played well the last couple games and I don’t really either. It’s nice to win. It makes practice and just morale better. I’m not oblivious to that, but I think the second you start losing focus or anything… life will humble you and the NFL will humble you and every week’s new.”


Bengals at Steelers, 4:30 p.m., NBC, 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7

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