Josh Allen dazzled with his legs, but his turnovers, bad decisions, hurt Bills

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As Josh Allen was rolling out to the right, trying to out-leg the New York pass rushers who chased him all day, he kept looking downfield, hoping someone would come open.

This being the Bills’ wide receiver corps, no one did, but on this play early in the third quarter, Allen refused to live to play for another play and he did the one thing he absolutely could not do – he heaved the ball across his body back to toward the middle of the field.

If Sean McDermott wasn’t screaming the loudest, everyone in the crowd of 59,119 was because it was such a horrible decision. So bad, you almost didn’t think Allen could possibly have made it. Naturally, the ball was intercepted by the Jets’ Trumaine Johnson, who made like a shortstop catching a routine pop fly.

The Bills were fortunate in that instance that Allen’s gaffe didn’t cost them points as the Buffalo defense forced a Jets punt near midfield, but it was the kind of play that makes you worry about Allen long-term. He has made this mistake more than a few times in his rookie season and been burned on a couple, and while it’s an admirable trait to try to make a play, he has to stop playing so recklessly.

“I’ve got to be smarter with the football,” Allen said. “I gave it away three times and I didn’t put us in great situations and great position. Coach (Sean) McDermott preaches ball security all the time, and there were a couple of plays where it just wasn’t the most important thing and it hurt us.”

Allen lost a fumble in the first half during one of his nine rushing attempts, and that led to a Jets field goal. He then chucked one up under duress in the final minute of the game, after the Jets had taken a 27-23 lead, and that was also picked off by Johnson to seal New York’s come-from-behind victory.

“We were in a situation where we needed the touchdown to win the game,” Allen said. “I pressed it and forced a bad ball instead of going through my progressions and, obviously, with no timeouts. In a perfect world, you get the ball to your receivers and they can get out of bounds, and that’s what I was trying to do there and I forced a bad play.”

Allen was once again dazzling as a runner as he totaled 101 yards, and since his return from an elbow injury that forced him to miss four games, his three-game total of 335 rushing yards is the most in NFL history by a quarterback. With 490 rushing yards on the season, he is now the Bills’ leader in that category as LeSean McCoy has just 479 yards.

However, Allen the passer had a rough game, as his 44.4 rating would indicate. He completed only 18 of 36 passes for 206 yards. Now, to be fair, he was handicapped – as he always is – by dropped passes and inept protection from an offensive line that, though it seems impossible, seems to get worse each game.

Allen made several NFL-worthy throws and converted five third downs through the air, four of those coming on distances of third-and-7 or longer. So that was good. But he also threw some passes that make you scratch your head, not just the interceptions, but relatively routine throws that he simply misfired. It was the biggest knock on him coming out of college, his inaccuracy, and for the season, he is now completing just 52.4 percent of his passes with five TDs and nine picks.

“At times, I thought he tried to do too much,” McDermott said. “That’s tough living right there. Sometimes it works, but there’s enough times where it doesn’t. You’ve got to learn from that.”

PLAYER NOTES

  • QB Josh Allen continues to amaze with his legs as he had his second straight 100-yard rushing game. He became the first NFL QB to do that since Tobin Rote of Green Bay in 1951.
  • RB LeSean McCoy left the game after just two carries, the second time that has happened this season. He suffered a hamstring injury and Sean McDermott said Monday he’d be day to day.
  • LB Matt Milano suffered a broken fibula late in the fourth quarter and he underwent surgery Monday and is out for the year.
  • WR Robert Foster enjoyed the second 100-yard receiving game of his rookie season as he caught a career-best seven passes for 104 yards.
  • WR Zay Jones had only three catches for 22 yards, dropped two passes, and threw an incomplete pass on a trick play, one where not only did he hold the ball too long before he threw, he should have tucked it away and run for a first down.
  • LB Tremaine Edmunds led the Bills with eight tackles and made the first interception of his career.
  • TE Charles Clay had only one catch for six yards on two targets, and the other target is a pass he dropped over the middle.
  • K Stephen Hauschka had a rough game as he missed two of five field goal attempts and also was nailed by a cheap shot and suffered an injury to his hip which affected his kicking in the second half.
  • OT Jordan Mills had to leave the Jets game briefly, but he was able to return to finish.
  • RB Chris Ivory, who rushed for 42 yards taking over the main ball carrying duties when LeSean McCoy went out, also had to leave the game after re-injuring his shoulder. He did not return, and Marcus Murphy finished out the game. He’s day to day.
  • CB Ryan Lewis suffered a concussion and he is now in the protocol to start the week.
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