If Only Josh Allen Had Wide Receivers Who Could Catch
When veteran defensive tackle Kyle Williams saw Josh Allen scramble up the middle on a third-and-9 from his own 36, he also saw that Minnesota linebacker Anthony Barr was coming to meet him head on right around the line to gain for the first down.
What Williams saw next just blew him away, something that the entire football nation would soon be seeing on every highlight show known to mankind.
Allen made like a high-hurdler and leaped right over Barr, who was homing in on his chest. Allen made the first down to keep alive the Bills’ drive to what became their third touchdown of the first half, and he lived to talk about it.
“I saw it,” Williams said. His next thought? “Don’t do it again. We need him.”
That is certainly true as Allen earned the first victory of his NFL career with a masterful performance in Buffalo’s shocking 27-6 victory. In leading the Bills to a 27-0 first-half lead, Allen completed 12 of 19 passes for 172 yards with one touchdown, and he also ran for a pair of scores, one coming on another wildly athletic play, a 10-yard scramble around left end where he dove headlong to touch the pylon.
“He has that playmaking ability,” said Bills right tackle Jordan Mills. “He works hard every day to prove those doubters wrong.”
Allen definitely had doubters during the lead-up to the NFL Draft. The biggest knock was that he was a career 56.2 percent passer in college at Wyoming, and that came mostly against non-Power 5 conference competition. The draft gurus loved his size, really loved his arm, but very few felt that his mechanics could be fixed enough to the point where he would become a viable quarterback in the NFL. At least in Week 3 of his rookie season.
It's way too early to make any judgements, but Allen is starting to change his personal narrative.
He mopped up in Buffalo’s first game, entering with the Bills trailing the Ravens 40-0 in the third quarter. In Week 2, he made his first start against the Chargers, and while he threw for 245 yards and made a few nice plays, there were far more mistakes as he struggled to make quick decisions and didn’t read coverages well enough.
But in Minnesota, in a tremendously hostile environment against one of the best defenses in the NFL, in a game no one gave the Bills a chance of winning, Allen looked like a 10-year veteran. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll devised a sharp game plan that focused on quick passes, but he also didn’t handcuff Allen. He gave him opportunities to take shots downfield if he saw the right coverage, and Allen obliged.
Had the Bills’ receivers not dropped four passes in the first half, two of which would have been touchdowns and another that might have gone for a score, Allen’s numbers would have looked much better. As for his final numbers, it didn’t look like much, but that’s because the Bills put the passing game into mothballs in the second half and Allen attempted only three more passes (completing them all to finish with 196 yards) as Buffalo protected its insurmountable lead.
“There’s still a lot of plays I wish I could get back in this game,” he said. “We have a lot to learn from, a lot to get better from, and when those opportunities present themselves, we have to take advantage of them.”
As for the high-hurdler impersonation, Allen knows it was risky, and he was told so by coach Sean McDermott. “I was trusting my feet and trusting my gut right then,” he said. “There were guys about three yards from the sticks and I knew I had to get that first down. I think we went on to score on that drive, so obviously it was a big play.”
All McDermott could do was smile when he was asked about the play. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that.”
He then went on to explain what he thought a performance like this will do for his young quarterback.
“When you have success, confidence usually follows,” he said. “It looked like he played with a clear mind which is important for our young players. Josh, it’s important that he comes in with a clear mind. There’s going to be a learning process and you hate it, and there’s some plays that we left out there today that we want back, but we have to learn from the, and continue to develop as a team.”
-- RB LeSean McCoy was inactive for the Vikings came due to cracked cartilage in his rib cage. McCoy suffered the injury in the Week 2 loss to the Chargers.
-- QB Josh Allen earned his first NFL victory as he completed 15 of 22 passes for 196 yards with one TD passing and two rushing for a rating of 111.2.
-- RB Chris Ivory rushed 20 times for 56 yards and he also caught three passes for 70 yards, one of which was a 55-yarder that set up a Bills touchdown.
-- TE Logan Thomas was inactive for the first time this season. He had two catches for 31 yards in the first two games, but was replaced by TE Khari Lee, who is a better blocker.
-- CB Phillip Gaines did not play due to the dislocated elbow he suffered against Los Angeles.
-- CB Ryan Lewis made the first start of his NFL career. He had been called up from the practice squad earlier in the week following the untimely retirement of Vontae Davis. He was in on two tackles and had a pass breakup.
-- C Russell Bodine, who joined the Bills as a free agent but did not play in either of the first two games, replaced Ryan Groy as the starter. He left the game briefly with cramps, but returned.
-- LB Matt Milano had a great game as he recorded a sack, an interception, a fumble recovery, and broke up a pass.