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Josh Allen
Buffalo Bills

Josh Allen’s Truly Special Skill Set Puts Bills In Driver’s Seat

  • Jack McKessy
  • January 17, 2022
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Josh Allen is a special quarterback. Despite concerns about Allen playing again in freezing cold temperatures, the young gunslinger put on the best performance of his career to knock the Bills’ divisional rival out of the playoffs. Those concerns were not unfounded. Allen has struggled in the past when playing in the cold. His completion rate in five career games in the freezing cold hovered just about 50% and he’d thrown just six touchdowns to seven picks in such games. The weather forecast predicted a low of two degrees on Saturday night, with the added wind chill dropping that number below zero. The Bills worked on accounting for that leading up to the game, using colder footballs and turning off the heat at their indoor practice facility. It clearly worked. In contrast to the previous time these two teams met—just weeks ago—Allen couldn’t have looked more comfortable as he methodically picked apart the Patriots’ pass defense. New England had the third-best DVOA in defending the pass in the NFL this year. Yet, in the biggest game of either team’s season, Allen wasn’t sacked once and finished the night 21-of-25 with 308 passing yards and five touchdowns. That’s right, he threw more touchdowns than incompletions. No one’s done that in a playoff game since Kurt Warner in 2009. Everything was locked in for the Bills’ quarterback as a passer. He was using his feet to extend plays in (and out) of a collapsing pocket. He was making deep-shot throws look as easy as if he were playing catch in a backyard. He was placing the ball with pinpoint accuracy, allegedly literally without trying. The cherry on top for Allen’s game—along with what has made him such a special quarterback in the NFL—was the rushing performance he used in tandem with his passing one. In addition to all of his passing stats, Allen added on another 66 yards on six rushes. Chief among them was his 26-yard scramble out of the pocket on 2nd-and-long. Plays like that one are what make the Bills’ signal-caller so dangerous, what puts him on a level above other NFL quarterbacks. Not only can he make incredibly accurate throws after extending a play with his legs, but Allen can just as easily take off for huge yardage when a passing play breaks down. He can also just run a designed QB run for gains or goal-line scores, too. Allen is a really fast runner when he gets going, but he’s also quick and physical. He can juke a defender out of their shoes or lower his shoulder into contact when he tucks the ball and runs. The Bills’ quarterback is a unicorn in this way. You just don’t see guys with Allen’s stature—he’s 6-foot-5 and 237 pounds—that are able to not only throw the ball the way he does but run it like he can too. Even when the pass defense is among the best in the NFL, and even if the secondary does everything right in downfield coverage, Allen has the power to extend plays. He can scramble behind the line of scrimmage, waiting for a receiver to get open before making a strong throw. Or he can tuck it and run if nothing opens up. The 25-year-old Wyoming product is just a nightmare to try and defend. The incredible dual-threat performance from Allen led to an unbelievable result from the Bills’ offense on Saturday night. They didn’t have to punt or kick a field goal. They didn’t turn the ball over once. Against the team with the second-fewest points allowed this season, Buffalo had seven straight touchdown-scoring drives to start the game. The only “drive” they didn’t score on was the last of the game as they knelt out the clock. They were the first team in the Super Bowl era to accomplish such a feat in a playoff game, and the result was a 47-17 win. Allen’s Saturday night smackdown of the Patriots should put the rest of the AFC on notice. If they give him time in the pocket, he’s going to make a play. If they don’t leave a spy to prevent him from scrambling, he’s going to make a play. Allen had the best game of his career against one of the NFL’s best defenses in the freezing cold, and he could ride the momentum of that performance right back to the AFC Championship (and beyond).

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Jack McKessy