Josh Allen outdoes Bills great Jim Kelly as Buffalo starts 3-0 with win over Rams
The greatest quarterback in Buffalo Bills history came out of the Pennsylvania woods Sunday, cutting short a trip with friends so he wouldn’t miss a single Josh Allen drop-back.
“This is the first time I’ve ever really, really been excited about a quarterback on our team,” Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly said Sunday morning, driving to his massive hunting lodge in Ellicottville, N.Y., so he could be there for kickoff of Rams-Bills.
“We’ve had some, and it was always, ‘We’ll see. We’ll see. … Yeah, he’s got the potential, but we’ll see.’ With Josh, I think he’s proven to everybody he can play. Now he just has to stay healthy. Number two, being in the same system a number of years is going to help. And three, it’s getting the players around him.”
Allen did his part Sunday, throwing four touchdown passes in a 35-32 victory over the Rams, the last coming with 15 seconds remaining to avoid a monumental Bills collapse.
After the Rams fell behind 28-3 midway through the third quarter, they scored 29 unanswered points before the Bills stopped the bleeding with a 75-yard touchdown drive on their final possession.
A fourth-down pass interference call on the Rams in the closing seconds allows the Buffalo Bills to score a touchdown and win, 35-32.
Allen is the first player in Bills history with consecutive games with four touchdown passes.
He accounted for 10 touchdowns in his first 10 quarters of the season for the undefeated Bills, who beat the AFC East-rival New York Jets and Miami Dolphins in the first two weeks. Last season, it took Allen six games account for 10 touchdowns.
He has accounted for 12 touchdowns through three games, eclipsing the franchise record through three weeks set by Kelly (10) in 1991.
The 6-foot-5 Allen took a beating Sunday, including two sacks by relentless Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
“I’m going to need an ice bath tomorrow,” the quarterback said. “That was a really good Rams defense that we just played. They got after us in 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 put 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 dip like we did.”
Allen, who lost his cool earlier in the game and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for yelling at the referee, also had a 15-yard facemask penalty on the final drive — highly unusual for a quarterback — yet still overcame.
On that final drive, facing a third-and-22, he completed a 22-yard pass to wide receiver Cole Beasley to keep Buffalo’s hopes alive.
Allen said it was almost a “draw it up in the dirt” kind of play.
“Late in the game, they were doing a good job of getting pressure on me, and honestly, it just turned into some backyard bull,” he said. “I just tried to find some time to throw. Me and Cole had talked about this route many a time. They just kind of went outside, [and] Cole found a spot in the middle and made a good catch for a first down. Huge play for us.”
Rams safety Jordan Fuller injured his shoulder, so Taylor Rapp took over at safety and finished with seven tackles.
The game came down to a fourth-and-eight from the Rams’ 13-yard line with 25 seconds left. Allen threw a short pass for wide receiver Gabriel Davis that fell incomplete, but a questionable pass-interference call on cornerback Darious Williams gave Buffalo a first down at the Los Angeles three.
On the next snap, Allen connected with tight end Tyler Kroft for the winning touchdown.
Kelly said the luxury of Allen playing in coordinator Brian Daboll’s offense for the third year in a row is a huge factor in his success.
“Baker Mayfield has been in like three different systems,” Kelly said of Cleveland’s starting quarterback, who was selected first overall in 2018, with the Bills taking Allen seventh. “You cannot do all the things you’re capable of doing if you’re always thinking. When you have to think all the time instead of reacting, that takes a little bit of your game away.
“I was always blessed, and I know [Dan] Marino was too, and John [Elway], that we had the same system. That’s one of the things I talk to Tom Brady about — I’m very good friends with him — is that consistency, being in the same system all the time, and you don’t have to think when you’re going up to the line. It automatically comes natural.”
Allen, who ran for his second touchdown of the season in the game, is dangerous when he takes off running. Although he wasn’t known for his running as a player, Kelly still has some mobility too.
“I left early this morning,” the legendary quarterback said after parting ways with longtime friends and a high school football coach who shared a cabin with him over the weekend. “I said, ‘Guys, I’ve been here since Thursday and a couple of you guys snore too freaking loud. I’m going back to my lodge, watching the game in peace and quiet by myself. I’m probably going to take a nap at halftime and get up for the second half.’ ”
Turned out to be a good choice.
Staff writer Sam Farmer reported from Los Angeles.
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