Two-time national champion AJ McCarron is about to get his first chance at earning a ring in the pros.
Cincinnati Bengals starter Andy Dalton went down with a thumb injury on Sunday, thrusting McCarron into Cincy’s starting lineup. The second-year signal-caller is suddenly being asked to keep a 10-3 team steady as it heads into the postseason.
“You have to embrace [the situation],” McCarron told ESPN.com‘s Coley Harvey. “I love it. You have to love pressured moments.”
The former Alabama star had not played significant NFL minutes until Dalton — reportedly out for the rest of the season with a fractured thumb — went down Sunday. McCarron’s performance (22-for-32, 280 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions) was uneven, but he’s confident he can get the job done.
“I guess Tom Brady was in the same situation when he had the opportunity,” McCarron said, referencing Brady’s fate-shifting substitution for Drew Bledsoe in 2001. “I’ve got to make the most of it and do my job each week. I know we have an unbelievable defense and if we don’t turn the ball over, we have a great chance.”