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What you witnessed on Thanksgiving Day, while eating dead birds and trash macaroni and cheese, was an arrival. An official introduction of a star to the nation.
America, say hello to Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen. Josh, say hi to America.
Yes, people have heard of Allen, but let’s be blunt. He plays in one of the NFL’s less traveled outposts for a franchise that hasn’t been consistently good since the 1990s. People know the name Josh Allen. Now, they know the game of Josh Allen.
All of Allen’s talents were on display in the Bills’ 26-15 win over the dying, moribund, comatose Cowboys. His athleticism. His speed on the run. His accuracy. His toughness. It was all there in a spectacular performance.
The total Allen package, blossoming on the biggest stage in professional football—the gaudy Thunderdome that is the center of the football universe.
Allen showed he belongs in the same paragraph as some of the other dominant passers in the sport like Lamar Jackson and Russell Wilson. Not the same sentence, but he’s closing the gap by being multidimensional like them. By also not making mistakes as well.
Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press
Buffalo’s victory means the 9-3 Bills will have only their fourth winning season in the last 20 years. Buffalo’s defense is a huge part of its success this year, but Allen is the engine, and now so many others outside of Buffalo know it.
There was a question of if this huge Thanksgiving stage would be too big for Allen. What we know now is Allen needs an even bigger stage. This team, and this quarterback, are for real. Allen is a threat, and the Bills are a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
You mock them or demean them at your own peril.
“We don’t really play for the thoughts of others,” Allen told CBS after the game. “We play because we love each other.”
Then, Allen took a bite of a big-ass turkey leg. After that win, he can eat whatever he wants.
Allen has always had ability, but the difference this season is how he’s cut back on the mistakes. His football IQ has doubled. There were two good examples late in the game.
Early in the fourth, with the Bills ahead 23-7, Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith blitzed. There were only two places Allen could go with the football. He went to the best option: a short pass to running back Devin Singletary. First down.
Later in the quarter, on 3rd-and-4, Allen scrambled from the pocket and looked like he was going to run. Last season, Allen would have tried something crazy—a leap in the air, an insane pass that would have been picked off or something destructive.
This play, as the Dallas defense was sucked in, Allen threw on the run to wide receiver Robert Foster for 20 yards. His legs, and lack of recklessness, allowed Foster to get open after being initially covered.
Allen is turning receivers like Cole Beasley and John Brown into stars.
Adrian Kraus/Associated Press
Do you know who Allen is? He’s Cam Newton, and that’s pretty good.
In fact, according to ESPN Stats & Info, Allen is only the fourth quarterback since the 1970 merger to have multiple years with eight rushing touchdowns. He joins Cam Newton (three), Mike Vick (two) and Steve McNair (two). Allen and Newton both accomplished that feat in each of their first two seasons.
Allen threw just five incompletions, going 19-of-24 for 231 passing yards and one passing touchdown. He added 43 yards rushing and a score. In his last seven games, Allen has accounted for 16 touchdowns and just one interception.
Cowboys defenders at times looked stunned at Allen’s speed when he ran, as well as the accuracy of his passes. They’re not alone. Other teams have been surprised as well.
The problem with defending Allen is similar to some of the quarterbacks like him. He’s so unique that there’s no one on the scout team who can properly emulate him.
Yes, this was an introduction. It was to America but, in many ways, also to an NFL that may have been skeptical about Allen and the Bills.
The way Buffalo mentally and physically dominated the Cowboys in their football place of worship should end all doubts.
The Bills are for real. Allen is for real.
Say cheese, Josh.