So close!

Josh Allen looks good in the loss for the Bills

Howard Simon
December 02, 2018 - 6:39 pm

Photo: Jasen Vinlove - USA TODAY Sports

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If only Josh Allen and Charles Clay could have hooked up on that pass.

One week after having the signature throw of his rookie season, Allen would have had his signature game of Year 1. Making his seventh start of the year, Allen was pretty bad in the first half in Miami, but he was great in the second half, and it appeared he was going to rally the Buffalo Bills to a third straight victory. However, a wobbly pass to Clay was dying as it made its way to the end zone and the tight end couldn’t come up with the diving attempt.

It shouldn’t take away from the second half performance of the Bills quarterback, even though a better throw on that final play would have meant a go-ahead touchdown since Clay was wide open. In addition to the passing game, Allen also produced a record setting day with his legs, as far as Bills quarterbacks are concerned. He ended up accounting for 366 of the Bills' 415 yards of offense.

It wasn’t a pretty first half for Allen in the first divisional road game of his career. The University of Wyoming product completed just 5-of-11 passes for a measly 52 yards. He missed an open Robert Foster on a deep sideline throw on the Bills' first drive. On the next drive, he made a bad decision by throwing a screen pass to LeSean McCoy, who was in some serious traffic. The play resulted in a loss of six yards. Allen had an open Isiah McKenzie on the other side in the flat, and also under threw Kelvin Benjamin on that same drive.

On the Bills' third possession of the first half, Allen had Zay Jones running parallel with him on a bootleg to the right, but instead of taking what the defense was giving him with a short completion, he held on to the ball hoping for something to open up further downfield. It did not, so Allen ended up throwing the ball away. He more than made up for it though, ending that drive with a perfect on-the-run touchdown pass to Jones who was running along the back of the end zone.

Allen looked much better in the second half as he competed 13-of-22 for 179 yards and another touchdown. It didn’t start out so well because Allen couldn’t hook up with a wide-open Jones in the end zone on the Bills' initial drive off the second half. Allen thought Jones was going to sit down on his route, but the second-year wide receiver kept going and the pass was behind him. Allen did show a nice touch earlier in that possession on a short throw to fullback Patrick Dimarco that he turned into a 38-yard gain. The Bills settled for a field goal to pull within five at 14-9.

Allen put the Bills in front with an impressive six-play, 83 yard drive in 3:24 following a Micah Hyde interception. He ran two times for 35 yards, including a 28-yard scamper where he made a defensive tackle miss. Allen was 3-of-3 passing, including a 12-yard throw to Deonte Thompson that featured Allen standing strong in the pocket, knowing he was about to get hit. His 25-yard touchdown throw to Jones was perfectly placed after Jones took advantage of a linebacker being matched up on him. 

Miami went back in front 21-17, and then came another “if” play. If only Allen could have connected on a bomb with Robert Foster for the second straight game. On 2n-and-10 from the Bills' own 35-yard line, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll called for a deep shot and it was there. Foster had a couple of steps on his man, but Allen’s throw was just beyond the hands of Foster, who gave it his all while laying out in the attempt. Still, it was another example of Allen’s arm strength as the pass sailed more than 65 yards in the air. 

The Bills still moved the ball all the way down to the Miami 23-yard line. Allen had back-to-back runs of 25 and 26 yards as he continued to frustrate Dolphins defenders with his running ability. Allen ended up with an amazing 135 yards on nine carries, the most rushing yards ever by a Bills quarterback.

Sadly, sacks on second and third down backed the Bills up and Stephen Hauschka, who uncharacteristically missed an extra point earlier in the game, was wide-left on a 55-yard field goal attempt.

The defense was able to force a three-and-out and give the offense one more shot. Allen and the offense got the ball at their own 10-yard line with 2:33 left and no timeouts.

The kid looked real good on that drive, which is why it was such a shame they couldn’t pull this one out. He started with a 27-yard dart down the middle to Foster. Later in the drive, throwing on the run to his right, Allen hit McKenzie for 23 yards. 

It looked like he had set the Bills up on 1st-and-goal with a pretty back shoulder throw to Jones, but the call of a completed pass was correctly over turned on a booth review.

That left the Bills facing a 4th-and-11 at the Miami 30-yard line, where Allen and company went for the lead. After dropping back, Allen started to scramble by going left, then he went back to the right. Then Allen turned and ran left once again, getting himself into space at the Dolphins' 40-yard line. Seeing a wide open Clay in the end zone, Allen let loose, throwing back across the field, but the ball was a wobbler and Clay couldn’t hold on as he dove for the catch. Once I saw how wide open Clay was, I started to celebrate the go-ahead touchdown, and then pounded the table when Clay couldn’t make the reception. 

I really felt bad for Allen, who gave it everything he had in this game but came up painfully short. He will go to bed not only thinking of that final pass to Clay, but I’m sure he will want the throw behind Jones in the end zone and the over throw of Foster on that bomb back.  

The Bills lost the game, but in a season that has been all about evaluating Josh Allen since he became the starter back in Week 2, it was a positive step and a good building block off of his first game back against Jacksonville.

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