What we learned about Josh Allen’s special performance on the national stage

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) celebrates a first down during the Buffalo Bills vs Dallas Cowboys game, November 28, 2019 at AT&T Stadium. Photo by Juan DeLeon
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) celebrates a first down during the Buffalo Bills vs Dallas Cowboys game, November 28, 2019 at AT&T Stadium. Photo by Juan DeLeon

Josh Allen has always worn his emotions on his sleeve when he plays, but what was witnessed after a botched 4th-and-1 exchange was different. Different because the Bills quarterback pulled the equivalent of a magician taking a rabbit out of a hat. But also different because it was the most outwardly emotional Allen has ever been in a football game.

“It was a big first down and how it happened on fourth and short,” Allen said. “Fumbling the snap. I’ve got to do a better job of that and get the ball to our running back. But I wanted it really bad and I knew that put us in a good position to score points. Points were at a premium against this team.”

Allen’s emotion after securing the first down had a clear impact on his teammates and his coaches. His offensive coordinator called the biggest gadget play of the season and his teammates executed it flawlessly.

“Josh is a winner and just a swaggy dude,” said Dion Dawkins. “A swaggy dude with a killer instinct. He just goes after everything that he puts his mind to. As an offensive lineman, I’m just happy to be a part of what the kid is doing.”

Things only got better after halftime when Allen had his most efficient stretch of play in the game. On the team’s first three possessions of the second half he completed 11 consecutive passes for 130 yards, including four third down conversions en route to 13 points, turning a six-point halftime lead (13-7) into a 19-point advantage essentially sealing the game.

“We did a good job of finding a way to adjust during the game,” Allen said. “When you have a short week things like that are going to happen. They’re going to show you something different. So we weathered that storm early on and the defense got the ball back for us in good field position and our guys executed.”

The only touchdown on those three second-half drives he ran in himself on a broken play when he escaped contain in the pocket, rolled to his right, and was the beneficiary of a John Brown block at the three-yard line to reach the end zone untouched on a 15-yard run. Again Allen’s emotions bubbled to the surface as he rifled the ball into the wall behind the end zone after scoring.

By game’s end Allen had put together what was his most consistent start-to-finish performance of the season. His 79 percent rate of completion was a single-game best in his young career, as he went 19-24 passing that included a touchdown pass along with his rushing score.

“I thought Josh Allen had a heck of a game,” said head coach Sean McDermott. “That fourth down. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. Just a phenomenal, competitive play. He was smart with the football. We drove the ball and he did a good job with run and pass.”

His two touchdowns now give him nine games in his career with at least one touchdown through the air and another on the ground, to rank third in league history for a QB in their first two seasons behind Cam Newton (14) and Steve Grogan (10).

Those two touchdowns via the run and the pass also made it the eighth straight game he has put up at least two touchdowns, which is the longest current streak in the league and broke a Bills record previously held by Jim Kelly of seven games between the 1991 and 1992 seasons.

Scroll through to view the top photos of the Buffalo Bills celebrating following a 26-15 win against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 13.

Allen, as he often does, heaped credit on his teammates, tipping his hat to his offensive linemen as well as his skill position players, but he did admit he was as comfortable as he’s been with a game plan.

“I think so, plus with a short week those are tough, but we stuck to what we like and put in some game plan stuff for their defense and our guys went out and executed,” he said. “For our guys to do that on a short week they did a phenomenal job. From route running to concepts that we put in. To blocking schemes and credit our line. They were great.”

Buffalo’s quarterback is right. His offensive teammates are executing at their highest level all season. Just a few weeks ago outside observers were wondering if nine new starters on offense could jell this season. Credit the coaching staff for facilitating the functionality of that blend along with Allen’s continued merging of his pre-snap diagnosis and his post-snap decision making.

Proof of that progress comes in his recent touchdown to interception ratio. Over the last seven games Allen has 11 touchdown passes and one interception. Add in his rushing TDs and the figure jumps to 16 TDs against the one pick.

Allen’s progress and that of the offense as a whole have come into their own almost simultaneously, and it makes Buffalo a dangerous playoff contender.

After taking a bite of a big turkey leg while the CBS postgame cameras rolled on Allen in the wake the convincing 26-15 Bills victory, the Bills quarterback smiled. He likely smiled for a lot of reasons.

He was happy for the win. He was pleased with the performance of the offense. He was thankful for his teammates and maybe, just maybe, he was excited with the way his game is coming together because Josh Allen is getting awfully close to special.

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