It’s time to eat some crow. After months of internet skepticism—including from myself—the tall, mobile, howitzer-armed quarterback that was promised has arrived. Josh Allen went 15-for-22 for 196 yards, one touchdown, no picks, and a 111.2 passer rating as the lowly Bills knocked off the Vikings, 27-6.
The result is stunning, not only because the Bills entered the game 16.5-point underdogs—a margin no team has overcome to win outright since 1995—but because Allen turned everything we thought we knew about him on its head. The Wyoming product came out of college as the draft’s most polarizing prospect, a player who could seemingly throw the ball 80 yards with just a flick of the wrist but then airmail simple screen passes. Against Minnesota, he looked like the polished, consistent passer the Bills need.
In Sunday’s win, Allen didn’t make too many of the highlight-worthy, deep throws that come naturally to him, but he kept the Bills offense moving against one of the NFL’s best defenses. On his first touchdown throw, with five minutes left in the first quarter, he went through his reads to quickly drop a pass to a wide-open Jason Croom:
Allen was fearless and made multiple plays with his legs. He finished with 39 yards on 10 rushing attempts, including two touchdowns. One was a quarterback sneak, and the other came on a diving scramble:
Shortly thereafter, Allen hurdled a guy:
It was a complete performance. The combination of Allen’s ability to run and make routine throws and his ever-present ability to take the top off on any play kept the Vikings off balance. It was a game to make fans and skeptics alike believe that Allen could be Buffalo’s QB of the future.
Of course, he got some help, especially from the team’s defense. Buffalo forced three turnovers and stifled most of Minny’s drives that didn’t end in a fumble or interception. That gifted Allen and the offense some short fields to work with, including one from the Minnesota 15-yard line and one from the Minnesota 25-yard line that ended in a field goal and a touchdown, respectively. Plus, the Bills recovered three fumbles on offense, and fumble recoveries are essentially random.
While the win was a complete team effort (they almost always are), Allen’s play is the story line. Coming out of college, Allen looked like either a quarterback prospect molded by the football gods themselves or an incompetent thrower who would never be worth more than a few highlight plays interspersed among a plethora of head-shaking mistakes. The fact that the Bills stripped their roster to the studs this offseason only made their decision to trade up to no. 7 and draft a quarterback who needed so much work all the more befuddling.
Yet with Allen’s performance on Sunday, Bills fans have something to look forward to. Buffalo is still almost certainly one of the NFL’s worst teams (Vontae Davis didn’t retire at halftime last week for nothing), as they won’t always recover five fumbles and start multiple drives in field-goal range, but they now have a reason for fans to tune in every week. If Allen can repeat his play against Minnesota, he won’t be a football fantasy any longer—he’ll be the Bills’ franchise quarterback.