ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK — It took Josh Allen less than 30 minutes before the start of the Buffalo Bills’ Week 5 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers to make history.
Allen’s 348 first-half passing yards in the 38-3 win was the most in a single half by a Bills player, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“Josh is close to a record in every game and I say it humbly…” left tackle Dion Dawkins said. “We have a great quarterback. That’s why they paid him. That’s why he’s our franchise. That’s why he’s Josh. No impertinence. Josh is able to do amazing things every time he touches the soccer ball and the soccer field.”
Allen doesn’t just play good on offense. Of the 17 touchdowns the Bills scored, he accounted for 16 of them and accounted for 83% of the team’s net yards, the highest of any player in five games in the past three seasons.
And while Allen makes an early case for MVP, the offense under freshman coordinator Ken Dorsey continues to improve. On Sunday, the Bills got another element of their offense that they hadn’t been able to implement before – a large-scale passing game that gives the opposing defense another dimension of defense.
“Honestly, I felt like I missed a few shots,” Allen said after his record breaking first half. “I was a little annoyed by a couple of passes I had early in the game. I want to complete every ball. Obviously, I know this is usually not possible. But there are some things I could have done better at the start of this game.”
In the first four games of the season, the Bills threw 12 passes for 20-plus yards, but against an injury-weary Steelers defense, especially on the sidelines, Allen completed eight such passes, including three touchdowns. Two of those touchdowns went to a wide receiver. Gabe Davis, who’s been dealing with an ankle injury for the past couple of weeks. Against the Steelers, he looked healthy again, finishing with three receptions for 171 yards and two goals.
“You just feel like no one can stop you,” Davis said. “You feel like the best player on the field and every time the ball comes towards you, you are going to play it.”
It was no secret that the Billys struggled to get their runners to work consistently; Allen led the team for four games. But with four touchdowns requiring three or fewer games against the Steelers, a running game wasn’t needed.
One of the reasons for the Buffalo’s success against Pittsburgh was Allen’s ability to outperform the Steelers. Allen has seen the men cover a season-high 56% drop rate and has three touchdown passes for 12.5 yards per try on those plays. He finished with 424 passing yards.
“Each team will play you differently.” – Wide receiver Stephon Diggs said. “Some guys are going to call and play, man, some guys are confident in their guys, some guys want to play in the zone. Schematically, we have seen everything. We’ve seen guys crawl up and we’re getting a lot of big games. And then we see the guys who play it, we’re going to play in the zone, make them move around the field one game at a time.”
Allen has 1,876 combined passes/rushes and 16 combined passes/rushes this season. He is the third player in NFL history to do so in five games, and the first since Peyton Manning’s record breaking season in 2013. Stopping this attack even without the traditional run. the game is difficult because Allen and his successors can do so much. With Davis healthy and Diggs also a threat to deep play, the Bills will be able to take advantage of heads-ups down the field.
The Bills achieved this success without launching a slot receiver. Isaiah Mackenziewhich remains on the concussion protocol, and the tight end Dawson Knox (foot/ankle). Following the Bills is a team they know well from the Kansas City Chiefs (CBS, 4:25 pm ET) after consecutive playoff losses at Arrowhead Stadium.
Heading into Monday Night Football against the Las Vegas Raiders, the Chiefs conceded the eighth-most pass per try (6.55), but opportunities will come as Kansas City allowed the second-highest completion percentage (72.9%). In two games last season against the Chiefs, Allen threw seven touchdowns and never intercepted the ball.
“This league is hard to beat,” Allen said. “So we’re going to celebrate this tonight. Have a good time. Move tomorrow. Watch this movie and then we’ll go to Kansas City.”