AJ McCarron 'felt good' in first start for Bengals


AJ McCarron made positive strides in his first career start, helping guide the Cincinnati Bengals to a road win over the drowning San Francisco 49ers.

McCarron completed 15 of 21 passes for 192 yards, one touchdown, zero interceptions and a 115.6 passer rating.

"I felt good. I felt, especially in the first half, we did a really good job of up-tempo and we were really pushing the ball up the field," McCarron said, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. "We just have to come out with the same energy in the second half. We slacked off in the second half as an offense. Positive thing is we took care of the football for the most part. They had turnovers and quite a few and we didn't. That's the key to the game a lot of times. I felt good about it, though."

McCarron became the first Alabama quarterback to win an NFL start since Jeff Rutledge in 1987. Like he did while winning championships in college, McCarron managed the game and made some deep tosses when needed.

"Well, I thought he played the game," coach Marvin Lewis said. "He handled the football, managed the game, managed the ball, and that's the key element. He did some good things, and made some good throws and he protected the football. Those are the key things going into the game he had to go in and do."

McCarron played well enough, making a few stellar vertical throws and not turning it over. With the Bengals jumping out to a big lead over the hapless 49ers, it's tough to judge the young quarterback on this one game. Cincinnati's offense performed at its most futile rate of the season, totaling the fewest total yards (242) and pass yards (174) of 2015.

Running back Jeremy Hill said the Bengals need to do more around McCarron.

"I wouldn't even say he managed the game, we ran our stuff," Hill said. "We didn't protect him on third down, he had a lot free runners running at him, us not running the ball very well, a lot of third-and-longs. There's a lot of stuff we did wrong not helping him out, putting him in those situations. We're not happy, we have to be better and not put AJ. in those situations. He played really well, considering the circumstances of the situations we put him in."

Facing the Denver Broncos next week with the AFC North and a playoff bye on the line, McCarron will have a bigger stage and tougher defense to try and earn his second career win.