Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen has career game as comeback falls short
In a wild game, the Buffalo Bills fell just a few inches short of their fifth victory of the season as the Miami Dolphins defeated the Bills, 21-17.
It was a crushing ending for the Buffalo Bills on Sunday in Miami as a Josh Allen pass fell short and through the hands of tight end Charles Clay on a fourth down play that would have more than likely won the game for Buffalo.
The entire game showcased the good, bad, and greatness of Allen, the emergence of Matt Milano as one of the best players in the NFL, and Zay Jones as a legit NFL receiver.
A quarter-by-quarter breakdown can be seen below, along with stats and takeaways from today’s loss.
Josh Allen – 18/33, 231 yards passing, two touchdowns, two interceptions, 135 yards rushing
Lesean McCoy – 15 rushes, 52 yards
Zay Jones – 4 catches, 67 yards, 2 touchdowns
Isaiah McKenzie – 4 catches, 46 yards
Matt Milano – 8 total tackles
Micah Hyde – 4 total tackles, interception
Rafael Bush, Trent Murphy, Lorenzo Alexander – sack each
The Dolphins scored on their first drive to take a 7-0 lead. It was only the second time all season the Bills have allowed a touchdown on an opponent’s opening drive. Later in the quarter, Allen missed a wide open Foster for a big gain that could have resulted in a big play. On another play, Allen chose to keep it rather than hit a wide open Jones going across the field.
That play to Jones stood out to me because Allen saw Jones but decided to take off anyway, when sometimes he needs to just make the simple pass rather than playing the hero. Regardless, the play worked out for the Bills.
Buffalo’s defense really stepped up after giving up the touchdown on the first drive. Deep in their own end, Miami gave up a sack, got a penalty in their favor, and then gave up two more sacks, the latter of which was almost a safety.
Miami leads 7-0
With the ball early in the second, the Bills drove down the field in impressive fashion. Allen nearly had Benjamin for a TD but of course Benjamin combined his lack of effort with his lack of hands. Then Allen ran for a TD that was called back by a penalty, but Allen would find Jones for their first TD of the day when the rookie rolled out to the right side to find Jones in the back of the end zone. Hauschka would then do something he hasn’t done all season in missing the PAT.
The defense continued to dominate as they sacked Ryan Tannehill and beat him up all afternoon. Miami capitalized on a fumble on a muffed punt by Isaiah McKenzie to go up 14-6 over the Bills.
Allen was efficient driving down the field later in the quarter as the Bills were threatening to score. Buffalo was able to get into scoring position with little time left on the clock and an Allen Hail Mary was picked off to end the half.
Miami leads 14-6
Like he did against Jacksonville last week, Allen continued to use his legs well as he gave the Miami defense fits (especially Kiko Alonso, which felt great). At the end of an early drive, Allen missed Jones wide open (WIDE OPEN) in the end zone that would have given the pair their second touchdown of the day. The team settles for a field goal.
On their next drive, Allen found Patrick DiMarco for a beautiful touch pass down the sideline for a big gain. Jones continued to impress and get open, running great routes and making catches. Allen missed Jones a few times, but the two seemed to build a ton of chemistry in the game.
Buffalo had a first down from their own end zone and Allen did a great job of making a long pass to get them out of there. In the last minute of the quarter, Allen threw a pick that was answered by Micah Hyde on the very next play. Allen then ripped off another huge run to end the quarter.
Miami leads 14-9
There was a ton of great play from the pocket by Allen to begin the fourth. He stood in there and made some outstanding throws. Moving down the field, Allen found Jones in stride for their second connection of the day. They then hooked up again for the two-point conversion as they took a 17-14 lead.
Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips played for Miami earlier this season and was cut and claimed by the Bills off waivers. He has been very good for them this season but this game was going to be emotional for him. Eventually he did a dumb thing and got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that cost the team. That led to another Miami touchdown.
Buffalo had a wide open Robert Foster deep in which Allen missed long on a 66-yard throw. He then ripped off yet another long run for the team.
Allen was sacked by his neck that led to no penalty and later was stripped and Wyatt Teller picked up the ball and almost ran it 45 yards for a touchdown (minus the touchdown and 42 of the 45 yards).
The Bills then had a massive three-and-out that gave them the ball back with over two minutes to go and no timeouts. Allen delivered a laser to Foster and did an amazing job of moving the ball down the field. In the final minute, Jones had a back-shoulder catch near the end zone overturned to bring up fourth down.
Allen managed to avoid the rush, run around, run around some more and heave the ball to the end zone. The ball – while at least five yards short from hitting Charles Clay standing all alone in the end zone – fell short and through a diving Clay’s hands as the ball was turned over on downs and Buffalo lost the game.
It appears that Josh Allen can ball. By no means was this a perfect game from the rookie, but man can he make plays. His legs are a much bigger threat to defenses than it appears anyone anticipated. He gained 20 yards on runs like it was nothing and he did it without putting himself in danger.
I had a great time watching Kiko Alonso scream after tackling LeSean McCoy for a two-yard gain and then Allen blowing by him time-and-time again.
Not only did Allen make plays with his legs, but he made a lot of really good throws. His two touchdown passes, the final drive of the game, and several other plays were very nice throws. However, there were throws that he needs to make.
The final play to Clay is the biggest as Allen still has a tendency to underthrow receivers despite having a cannon for an arm. The missed touchdown to Jones in the third also stands out.
Overall, Allen continues to improve and keep the team in games. I read on Twitter that Allen followed up a career game with a career game and that is exactly what you want to see.
What Allen and Jones are starting to build is great as well. Jones seems to consistently get open and when Allen needs him, he is there. He had an incredible tip-toe catch down the sideline and made solid plays on both touchdown catches. Jones can also block very well and can grow with Allen. He has clearly earned the rookie quarterback’s trust.
Benjamin also should stop being dressed on game days. He adds nothing to the offense and you can never count on him to catch the ball. While I don’t consider him to be a bad option, I could do with less Clay on the field as well. He appears to be gone after this season and Croom, who is more athletic and who Allen has a good relationship on the field with, should get more snaps.
The defense continues to play well and get sacks. If the offense can catch up to the defense, then we have a very good football team.
As for special teams, Stephen Hauschka had a very unusual day. He is always dead on for extra points and field goals and missed one of each. I expect him to bounce back no problem.
All-in-all, the Bills are competing and putting together offensive numbers. They are in every game and if Allen can continue to grow and take big steps, then we have a very good team moving forward.