Jake Browning found Chase Brown for a 54-yard screen pass touchdown and connected with Tanner Hudson on another as the Cincinnati Bengals beat the visiting Indianapolis Colts 34-14 on Sunday.
Browning, who has filled in since Joe Burrow’s season-ending wrist injury in Baltimore on Nov. 16, finished 18-of-24 for 275 yards and one interception along with a rushing score.
Browning became the second Bengals quarterback to leave with a throwing hand injury mid-game when he left holding his right thumb with 14 minutes left in the fourth quarter. But minutes later it was announced that Browning was probable to return with muscle cramps in his right thumb.
Joe Mixon ran for 79 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries as the Bengals (7-6) won their second straight after a three-game losing streak and kept alive their playoff hopes heading into the final four weeks.
Gardner Minshew II finished 26-of-39 for 240 yards and a touchdown for the Colts (7-6), who had their four-game win streak snapped.
The Bengals found the big play on their second drive when Browning found Brown on a screen pass. Brown did the rest by racing 54 yards and eluding a would-be tackler at the Indianapolis 5 before running into the end zone for the rookie’s first career touchdown.
Cincinnati made it 14-0 on Mixon’s 1-yard run with 10:18 remaining in the second quarter.
The Bengals were in complete control until a personal foul changed the momentum. With the Colts facing third-and-14, Gardner Minshew completed a 9-yard pass. But Trey Hendrickson shoved Minshew to the ground for a clear personal foul.
Instead of a three-and-out, the Colts put together 14 more plays for a 79-yard drive, capped by a 2-yard lob pass to tight end Mo Alie-Cox in the back of the end zone on fourth-and-1 to put the Colts on the board.
Matt Gay, who earlier missed a 38-yard field goal off the left upright, missed the extra point to leave it 14-6 Cincinnati.
On the next drive, Browning’s second-down pass was off target and went off the hands of tight end Hudson and into the arms of Ronnie Harrison Jr. The Colts safety returned it 36 yards for a touchdown, giving the Colts 14 points in 25 seconds and tying the game at 14-14 after a two-point conversion.
But Browning recovered to start the third quarter, directing a 75-yard drive in six plays, ending with Browning’s slant pass to Hudson for 11 yards and Hudson’s first career touchdown.
Browning added his 1-yard rushing score late in the third before Evan McPherson tacked on 32- and 35-yard field goals in the fourth.