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Josh Allen makes his MVP case with a historic performance

Bills celebrate winning the AFC East Division. Buffalo Bills vs Denver Broncos, December 19, 2020 at Empower Field at Mile High.
Bills celebrate winning the AFC East Division. Buffalo Bills vs Denver Broncos, December 19, 2020 at Empower Field at Mile High.

The fun fact had made its rounds for more than a week, passed around on social media sites by fans and media alike. Adam Schefter tweeted it. So did NFL Research, ESPN Stats & Info, and Sportsnet.

Josh Allen, 24, was not yet born when the Bills last won an AFC East title in 1995.

Why, then, does it seem like Allen has been here before? The quarterback broke down the huddle following Buffalo's division-clinching victory in Denver on Saturday with the same level-headedness he displayed while talking to the media afterward. His message has been consistent since he showed up to camp.

"We did something that nobody's done in a long time," Allen told his teammates. "Understand what's at stake though. Understand what there is out there more for us. This hat's fine and dandy. This hat and shirt's fine and dandy. I want the one that says ** Super Bowl champs."

Allen turned in a dominant performance against the Broncos, passing for 359 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for two more. He played with as much poise with a division title on the line as he did while leading a game-winning drive in Week 3, or while playing in the wake of a personal loss in Week 9, or while delivering a win against his childhood team on Monday Night Football in Week 13.

Cole Beasley rattled off the head-turning tosses Allen completed against the Broncos with bewildered amusement. There was the one Beasley caught, a bullet between two defenders to begin the second half. There was a breadbasket lob to Stefon Diggs down the right sideline for 55 yards. And who could forget the rocket of a touchdown to rookie Jake Kumerow on second-and-goal from the 22-yard-line?

"It's hard to even be impressed now," Beasley said. "It's more expected. He's been doing it all year now. He's been dropping some dimes, man."

Allen's performance this season has earned mentions not only alongside some of the NFL's modern-day elite, but next to the best passers in Bills history as well. Consider the following:

  • Allen's passer rating against Denver was 114.5, his seventh game with a rating above 100. That's a Bills single-season record.
  • After making headlines with the first 300-yard passing game of his career back in Week 1, Allen now has seven. That ties the Bills single-season record set by Drew Bledsoe in 2002.
  • Allen's two rushing touchdowns gave him 25 for his career. That not only ties the franchise mark set by Jack Kemp, it ranks second in NFL history by a quarterback through 42 career games (one behind Cam Newton).

Allen broke Jim Kelly's single-season franchise record with his 35th total touchdown against the Steelers last week, prompting praise from the Bills legend. His 4,000 passing yards are already more than Kelly threw in a season (albeit in a very different game) and just 360 short of Drew Bledsoe's record.

"I'd be surprised if Josh doesn't break all my records," Kelly said last week on One Bills Live. "Then, after he continues to grow, he'll start breaking his own records."

The numbers stack up just as well against Allen's contemporaries. His 39 total touchdowns rank second in the NFL behind Aaron Rodgers. He's just the second quarterback in NFL history with 30 passing touchdowns and eight rushing touchdowns in a single season. The other, Cam Newton, won the MVP the year he pulled off that feat.

Perhaps the most impressive mark is Allen's completion percentage, which at 68.69 percent currently stands as another Bills record and ranks sixth in the NFL. Accuracy was the trait most used by those who criticized the Bills' selection of Allen with the seventh-overall pick in 2018.

The Broncos were one of the teams that passed on Allen that year, opting instead to draft defensive end Bradley Chubb with the fifth pick. Bills offensive linemen Jon Feliciano said he suspected that decision added extra fuel to Allen's performance Saturday.

Whether that's true or not, we may never know. Allen stayed consistent in his response once again, shedding off questions of personal accolades or secret motivations like would-be tacklers.

"I'm where I'm supposed to be," he said.

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