Cincinnati Bengals' quarterback AJ McCarron won't be afforded the luxury of easing into NFL playing time like most young players are able to. 

The former Alabama signal-caller steps into the starting role for a team with Super Bowl ambitions after starting quarterback Andy Dalton suffered a fractured thumb against the Steelers on Sunday. He'll take over a team that's lost just three games this season and can clinch the AFC North with one more win.

But McCarron isn't lacking any confidence.

“You gotta embrace it,” McCarron said after the game. “I love it. You gotta love pressure moments. That’s what makes you great. That’s when the great ones really shine. I guess Tom Brady was in the same situation when he had the opportunity so I gotta make the most of it, do my job each week, know we have an unbelievable defense, don’t turn the ball over and we have a chance to win.”

After Dalton broke his thumb making a tackle in the first half, McCarron entered the game and had an up-and-down afternoon. It only took two passing attempts to complete his first touchdown pass as a pro, but he would follow that with a pick-6 early in the second half. The second-year quarterback finished the game 22/32 for 280 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Cincinnati finishes the season with consecutive road games at San Francisco and Denver before ending the year at home against Baltimore.