1 - Josh Allen emerging
Re-entering the lineup after a five-week layoff left many Bills fans wondering whether rookie QB Josh Allen would be rusty or demonstrate progress from when he left the lineup in Week 6 with an elbow injury. Against Jacksonville’s fourth-ranked defense, Allen delivered.
“I just wanted to go out there and complete the ball when it needed to be completed and make plays when plays needed to be made,” Allen said. “I trust the guys around me and that’s kind of what we did.”
Allen accounted for the longest play of the season with a 75-yard touchdown pass to Robert Foster to stake Buffalo to a 14-0 lead in the second quarter. And when that lead evaporated by halftime, he put the Bills ahead to stay with a 14-yard touchdown run on a quarterback draw.
“I love the fire. He personifies Buffalo,” said head coach Sean McDermott. “He’s a hard worker and a blue-collar kid and loves to compete. It was a good start for him.”
Though he threw for just 160 yards, Allen ran for over 100 before a couple of kneel downs at the end of the game to kill the clock left him with 99 rushing yards to lead the team.
“They went split safety quite a bit,” said Allen. “Their (middle) linebacker was relating to (cover) three, especially when we went empty and that opens up a lot of lanes for a quarterback to run. There were a few plays that were broken, and we decided to make a play when there was a lane. Our offensive line opened up some really good holes for us.”
After completing back-to-back passes to Isaiah McKenzie and Foster, Allen in a five-wide, empty backfield set, ran a quarterback draw for a touchdown, stiff arming a defensive lineman en route to the end zone to give Buffalo the lead.
“It was a good call at the right time,” said McDermott. “You saw Josh’s ability with the ball in his hands. Everyone did their job. That’s how you make a successful play.”
On the team's first touchdown drive, Allen turned in the biggest play on the drive when he hit Kelvin Benjamin with a 32-yard pass, which had a facemask penalty tacked onto it putting the Bills in the red zone at the Jags 17-yard line.
After Allen hit Jason Croom for an 11-yard pass to move to the six-yard line, Isaiah McKenzie did the rest on a quick hitting jet sweep for a six-yard touchdown.
Allen additionally helped to kill clock in the fourth quarter by taking off on a scramble for 45 yards, which helped him finish with almost 100 yards rushing (99) on just 13 carries.
“The thing with Josh is he brings that extra spark, the extra electricity in the building,” said LeSean McCoy. “His ability to run the ball. He’s very elusive even though he’s that big. He can also put the ball in the air and go deep.”
All told he accounted for 259 total yards from scrimmage as the team’s leading rusher and passer.
“One thing I like about Josh, when I first met him was his attitude,” said McCoy. “He wants to win. He’s no chump. He plays hard. They talked a lot about him. So he couldn’t wait to get out there and prove them wrong.”
2 – Scuffle turned tide for Bills
It happened after Levi Wallace and Donte Moncrief simultaneously caught a Blake Bortles pass near the goal line. As the two tussled on the ground fighting over possession on a play that was called a touchdown, pushing and shoving ensued between several players on both teams.
Leonard Fournette squared off with Shaq Lawson and threw a punch that barely connected. Lawson swung back and also landed a glancing blow. Dozens of other players moved in as the melee took a couple of minutes to completely dissipate.
“I was hoping it wouldn’t escalate so I wouldn’t have to go down there, but it kind of got out of hand so I had to jump in and help out,” said Lorenzo Alexander. “I got over to Shaq and was just trying to break those two guys up. Tensions were high from stuff getting talked about and some of that stuff stemmed back to last year when we played them. They’re very chirpy. We’re not going to back down.”
“I thought it was great the way our crowd reacted and the way our team reacted,” said McDermott. “If someone is going to step up and do that I expect us to step up and play as a team and I felt we did that.”
Fournette and Lawson were ejected and after review, the play that was ruled a touchdown was changed to a reception downed at the one-yard line.
With Fournette ejected however, the entire complexion of the Jaguars offense changed. On three consecutive plays the Jaguars lost a yard on a 1st and goal from the one-yard line, committed a false start penalty and Blake Bortles had to scramble on third down and got only a yard after Jerry Hughes took him down.
From there Josh Lambo missed a go-ahead field goal attempt from 41 yards away.
“For us that was a great stop,” said Jerry Hughes. “Huge stand for us. We talk about that all the time in the red zone. Don’t give up points, or at worst give up a field goal. For us to give up nothing in that situation given that they were on the one-yard line, that was fantastic. That gave us momentum.”
“Obviously, it’s a big advantage to us because Fournette is an elite back in this league. A game changer,” Alexander admitted. “When you go to their second and third option it definitely benefits us. It was a big momentum shift in the game for us just mentally knowing that we could overcome and stop them in the red zone like that.”
Buffalo’s offense would go on to score 10 straight points to put the game away before the Jaguars managed a late touchdown with just over a minute to play.
3 – A true deep threat for Bills?
For the second straight week, he provided the biggest play of the game. Rookie WR Robert Foster pulled in a 75-yard touchdown pass from Josh Allen that gave Buffalo an early 14-0 lead. Though that lead soon disappeared, his ability to take the top off a defense forced Jacksonville to back defenders out of the box.
“He certainly made some plays down the field, but the way he blocked in the run game and some short to intermediate routes he ran that got other people open, he did some other things as well,” said McDermott.
Foster came across the field on a 1st-and-10 play in the second quarter and caught safety Barry Church with his hips turned in the opposite direction from the way Foster was running. Game over.
“Robert saw the safety deep and cut in front of his face,” said Allen. “I didn’t see it get caught. I got hit as soon as I threw it. Looking at the replay he made a heck of a catch and a heck of an effort after the catch to score. It was awesome for him.”
Foster came close to posting back-to-back 100-yard receiving games as he finished with 94 yards on two receptions Sunday. Between his 105-yard effort in Week 10 against the Jets, Foster’s last five receptions have gone for 47, 43, 15, 75 and 19 yards.
“He can fly absolutely. He’s an undrafted free agent so he’s definitely that underdog story you love to see,” Allen said. “His work ethic is awesome. We have a really good relationship. It’s good to see him make plays like that. He deserves it because he’s been working extremely hard.”
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