1. Allen delivers in the clutch… again
It wasn't looking like a 300-yard passing day would be required as the Bills sprinted out to a 28-3 lead early in the third quarter Sunday. But the Rams had other ideas. After a controversial interception call on a play that appeared to be a reception by Tyler Kroft despite offensive pass interference, Los Angeles rattled off 29 unanswered points to turn a 25-point deficit into a four-point lead with 4:30 remaining in the game.
Buffalo's quarterback staged a game-winning drive of improbable proportions that included overcoming 3rd-and-22 and 3rd-and-25 situations along with a fourth-and-goal to win the game on a pass to Tyler Kroft from the three-yard line with 15 seconds left in regulation.
The game winner was the fifth touchdown on the day for Allen, who had accounted for the previous four with three through the air and one he took in himself on the ground.
"I'm just trying to make good decisions. Rely on the other 10 guys out there and that's all it really came down to at the end of that game," Allen said. "I wasn't trying to do too much. I wasn't going for the end zone every single play where maybe past years I would have been especially in that 3rd-and-long."
Allen dodged pass pressure in the pocket on a 3rd-and-25 from the Rams' 30-yard line and found Stefon Diggs in the middle of the field for a 17-yard pickup to set up 4th and 8.
"We got into fourth and manageable where we can call the play that gets in the end zone. We got a flag. I'm not the guy that likes to rely on flags, so we've got to be better in that situation."
The bottom line is Allen helped lift the Bills to victory in comeback fashion again, making him the first Bills QB with back-to-back comeback wins since Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2011. Allen is also the third Bills quarterback with consecutive 3-0 season starts joining Jack Kemp (1964-65) and Jim Kelly (1991-92) and you know how far those two signal callers advanced in those seasons.
"The guys play for him. To come back in the NFL and win the game, it's tough to do and he's now done it twice in the last two weeks," said head coach Sean McDermott. "And so it just goes back to the belief to do it, the ability to stay calm in the critical moments of the game and then have that winning mindset in those moments."
That final drive put Allen up over 300 passing yards for the third consecutive game making him and Hall of Famer Jim Kelly as the only Bills QBs to have three straight 300-yard passing days.
Allen now has 1,038 passing yards on the season, setting a new club record for passing yards in the first three games of a season, surpassing the 1,019 by Jim Kelly in 1991.
His 11 passing touchdowns on the season also marks the most in team annals through a season's first three games, and he's now the first player in league history with 10 or more passing touchdowns and two or more rushing touchdowns in the first three weeks of a season.
The victory, however, did not come without a price. He got slammed to the ground and roughed up a couple of times by Rams' All-Pro Aaron Donald among others.
"I'll tell you what I'm going to need an ice bath tomorrow," Allen said flatly. "That's a really good Rams defense that we just played they got after us during the third and fourth quarter. Going up 28-3, as a team we've got to be better. We've got to make sure that we're keeping our foot on the pedal and we've got to play that game away.
"I'm very happy with how resilient this team was, but I'm also a little mad at myself for allowing us to kind of dip right there and not executing like we should have. I put the ball in harm's way too often. But we got a victory that's all I care about. I love this team and I'm proud we finished this game."
When asked what enables him to pull out victories like he did again on Sunday, his answer was short and to the point.
"I just want it," he said. "More than anything."
2. Beasley hits century mark
At halftime of Sunday's game, the Bills were up 21-3 and Cole Beasley had one reception for 29 yards. The Bills slot receiver had been battling through a nagging hip injury during the practice week. Not that Beasley would ever use that as an excuse.
But come crunch time when the Bills needed to make plays on a drive that had to end with a touchdown at game's end, one of the smallest receivers on the roster came up big.
Suddenly trailing on the scoreboard by four (32-28) with 4:30 to play, Josh Allen kicked started the drive by finding Beasley on the left side, who then took off for an 18-yard pickup to the Bills 43.
After Beasley was unable to come up with a scramble drill throw to the left sideline on second down, Josh Allen went right back to Beasley on the biggest play of the drive on a 3rd-and-22 from Buffalo's 31 after Allen took a sack.
Buffalo's quarterback was often forced to make plays off script late, but he and Beasley were on the same page.
"Late in that game obviously they were doing a good job of getting pressure on me and honestly it just kind of just turned into some backyard ball," said Allen. "So I just tried to find some time to throw. Me and Cole talked about this route many a time and they just kind of went outside, Cole found a spot in the middle, made a good catch, got up field and got the first down and it was a huge play for us."
"Me and Josh actually talked about this route Week 1, because there was a time last year, when we were playing the Jets the very first game of the season we ran this play and we weren't on the same page, he threw it and I wasn't ready," Beasley said. "So we talked about it and I was really just getting in the middle and finding a window for him and he knows exactly what I'm going to do and I knew exactly what he wanted from me. So it's just all the talking that we've done off in the field that helped us on that play."
Beasley made the catch and then ran another eight yards to get exactly 22 yards for the first down to extend the drive.
Three plays later, Allen found Beasley again for a 19-yard pickup to set the offense up at the Rams' 15-yard line with just under a minute to play.
Beasley's last reception gave him exactly 100 receiving yards on the day marking his first such day since last year's season finale against New England when he had seven receptions for 108 yards.
"Cole is never the guy to want the ball right away," said Allen. "He's not going to ask for it. He wants to do his job and of course he wants the ball in his hands, when the game's on the line. He's obviously the most consistent guy. He knows he's probably not going to get that many touches per game, but he works his tail off. He's where he's supposed to be. And I'll tell you what he's a shifty little sucker and he's hard to cover. I love him."
Buffalo's slot receiver also hit another important mark Sunday, 400 career receptions. With his six catches Sunday, Beasley now has 401.
3. New look offensive line delivers this week
They experimented with a change at guard at the tail end of last week's game in Miami, with right guard Cody Ford flipping to the left side in place of Quinton Spain, and Brian Winters taking up Ford's spot at right guard. It was only for a handful of plays last week, but the offensive staff turned to that lineup from the very beginning on Sunday against the Rams.
Ford manned left guard and Winters the right guard spot and Buffalo's offense was still productive in putting drives together.
Head coach Sean McDermott outlined the decision to add Winters to the starting lineup.
"We wanted to go with those two this week," he said. "Like all positions we've got to continue to earn it. So we'll evaluate the film and I thought there were moments where we played well up front, and then there were moments where look – you're going against a big player in Aaron Donald along with the other guys that he has up there and they're a tough, tough unit. I thought our guys especially again in the critical moments of the game they came through for us."
As for the Bills run game, it appeared to be effective enough in balancing out Buffalo's passing attack. Devin Singletary earned specific praise from his head coach for his performance of 121 all-purpose yards while averaging 5.5 yards per carry.
"I mean we popped some big runs, which was important for us," McDermott said. "I thought Devin Singletary had a big day, making people miss in space in the run and the pass game and that's good to see. We were a little short-handed there with Zack (Moss) out and T.J. Yeldon stepped in and did a nice job."
"The O-line made some room for us," said Singletary. "I definitely had some lanes, so it's definitely a step in the right direction for us."
With coach McDermott stating that a starting role has to be earned every week, it makes the new starting five on the offensive line anything but permanent. We'll have to see if the group remains the same or continues to undergo tweaks to the lineup.