Josh Allen erases months of heartache with ‘epic’ superhuman effort vs. Rams

Bills quarterback Josh Allen leaps into the end zone for a touchdown as Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner tries to stop him.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen leaps into the end zone for a touchdown as Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner tries to stop him. Allen also threw three touchdown passes.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

If Josh Allen had pent-up frustration about the way last season ended for the Buffalo Bills, he released it Thursday against the Rams.

Allen was as hot as the SoFi Stadium parking lot.

He threw for three touchdowns and ran for a fourth in a 31-10 rout of the defending Super Bowl champions, turning the Kickoff Opener into a spectacular showcase of his arm and legs.

“He’s a creature, man,” teammate Von Miller said. “A creature.”


Unquestionably, Allen looked superhuman at times, squeezing passes into impossibly tight windows, effortlessly whipping throws deep downfield, running over would-be tacklers and ending one scramble by reaching the ball across the goal line.

Before he became an NFL star, Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen made a name for himself in Firebaugh, Calif., a town very proud of its native son.

Jan. 23, 2021

He basically picked up where he left off in that wild playoff game against Kansas City last season, when he and Patrick Mahomes went touchdown for touchdown before the Chiefs won in overtime — and the Bills didn’t get a chance to touch the ball in the extra period.

It was almost as if the Bills were finally able to exhale, coming all the way across the country and outscoring the home team in the second half 21-0.

The performance was far from perfect in Allen’s eyes. After all, two of his passes were intercepted in the first half and the Bills also lost a fumble.

What could have been a blowout by Buffalo after two quarters instead was a 10-10 deadlock.

“I was actually happy at halftime,” Allen said. “Three turnovers and going in 10-10 — zero to zero — that gave us all the confidence in the world, our defense being able to back us up. We hurt ourselves a lot in that first half. There’s a lot to learn from. But that second half, that’s who we want to be, going out there and executing the way we expect to execute.”

Bills quarterback Josh Allen throws a 53-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Stefon Diggs.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen throws a 53-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Stefon Diggs against the Rams in the fourth quarter.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Bills receiver Stefon Diggs catches a 53-yard touchdown pass against the Rams in the fourth quarter.
Bills receiver Stefon Diggs catches a 53-yard touchdown pass from Josh Allen against the Rams in the fourth quarter. Diggs finished with 122 yards receiving on eight catches.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

On Buffalo’s first possession after halftime, Allen threw a seven-yard dart to Isaiah McKenzie for a touchdown. Next came an 89-yard Bills drive that ended with Allen’s four-yard touchdown run. And on the following possession, he fired a 53-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs who had slipped behind Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey and made the catch tumbling backward into the end zone.

This was the play-calling debut of offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, who replaced Brian Daboll, now head coach of the New York Giants. Dorsey might want to frame this one.

The Bills converted nine of 10 third downs, a staggering percentage. By comparison, the Rams converted six of 13.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford passed 240 yards for a touchdown and three picks as the Rams opened their Super Bowl title defense with a 31-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

Sept. 8, 2022

“I think Coach Dorsey called a heckuva game,” Allen said. “It’s his first live action. So I’m proud of him for handling those situations how he did. We were 90% on third down. That’s a recipe for success.”

Another recipe is having Allen at quarterback. The AFC is the more exciting conference in that regard, with stars such as Allen, Mahomes, Justin Herbert and now Russell Wilson.

Miller, who won a Super Bowl with the Rams last season, thinks Allen’s performance in the opener is the kind of inducement the Bills might need to lure on-the-mend receiver Odell Beckham Jr., currently a free agent. Beckham suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament while playing in the Super Bowl for the Rams and was at the game Thursday night.

As good as Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills played, the Rams struggled with a number of issues in their first game since winning the Super Bowl.

Sept. 8, 2022

“We just have to see, man,” Miller said. “He was a huge part of our success last year. Whenever he gets healthy, I’m sure there’s a lot of teams that are going to be wanting him. We’ve just got to wait and see. I think we did everything we could possibly do to get him. We’ve got a great squad over here and everybody saw it.”

Allen’s family made the trip south from his hometown of Firebaugh, outside Fresno, and watched from a suite. Not surprisingly, they were ecstatic.

“There have been a lot of great moments,” said his father, Joel. “But this is epic.”

Minutes after the game, the SoFi grounds crew began erasing the end zones and midfield logo. The Chargers open Sunday. If only the memory of Allen’s performance could be scrubbed clean so quickly.

Breaking down the notable numbers behind the Rams’ 31-10 home loss to the Buffalo Bills on Thursday — scoring and statistics.

Sept. 8, 2022