QB Allen’s leap in win over Vikings put jump in Bills’ step
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The usually dry and reserved Brian Daboll was in such a good mood Monday, the Bills offensive coordinator even managed to crack a joke.
When asked about rookie quarterback Josh Allen leaping over Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr to avoid an open-field tackle and gain a first down on a 10-yard scramble a day earlier, Daboll feigned surprise by questioning whether reporters pay attention during practice.
“You guys are out to practice, right? We spend five minutes on hurdling and the other five minutes on footwork,” he said, before referring to quarterbacks coach David Culley. “We have David stand out there, and Josh makes a leap.”
Daboll was joking, of course. And yet the play in question, which extended a drive Allen capped with a 1-yard touchdown run to put Buffalo up 24-0, was symbolic of the Bills suddenly having a jump in their step following a 27-6 win over the Minnesota Vikings.
Allen, the rookie first-round draft pick, overcame several hurdles by having a hand in all three touchdowns (one passing, two rushing) in winning his first game, and on the road, no less. The Bills, meanwhile, overcame two mostly dreadful losses and extremely low expectations as 16½-point underdogs to improve to 1-2 .
And even Buffalo’s porous defense rebounded by limiting the Vikings to 14 yards rushing, matching the second-fewest in team history. The Bills also forced three takeaways, generated four sacks and halted a two-game stretch in which they allowed 78 points, starting with a 47-3 season-opening rout at Baltimore.
Encouraging as it might be, coach Sean McDermott preferred tapping the breaks in suggesting his still very young team has plenty to work on in preparing to play at the Green Bay Packers (1-1-1) on Sunday.
It’s difficult to determine, yet, whether the Bills are the team outscored by a combined 75-9 through the first six quarters of the season, or the one outscoring opponents by a combined 41-9 over the past six.
“When you look at the last six quarters, the way they’ve been able to play, I think it says a lot about the group,” McDermott said. “But we’re still not where we need to be. We’re not a finished product, and we understand that.”
As for Allen vaulting Barr, McDermott was pleased in seeing his quarterback’s competitiveness, and relieved he didn’t get hurt.
“I’m not going to take that away from him, but there’s a time and place for it as well,” McDermott said. “The part I like about it was he was decisive, and you don’t always see that with young players.”
Allen provided an immediate spark by going 15 of 22 for 196 yards passing and adding 39 yards rushing. On the downside, the 22-year-old still experienced a few miscues in fumbling the ball three times, with each recovered by the Bills.
Buffalo’s running attack gained a season-best 128 yards despite missing LeSean McCoy, who was sidelined by a rib cartilage injury.
The biggest takeaway for Buffalo was the play of its defense. Each of the Vikings’ first two drives ended with Kirk Cousins losing a fumble while being sacked, and led to the Bills scoring 10 points to build a 17-0 lead 10 minutes into the game.
That’s a big turnaround from a 31-20 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers a week earlier. Buffalo allowed the Chargers to score touchdowns on four consecutive drives in the first half, which led to McDermott taking over the defensive play-calling duties from coordinator Leslie Frazier in the second half.
Frazier regained the play-calling duties and wound up earning a game ball in a win against a Vikings team he previously coached.
“Although we were struggling statistically, in my own mind I felt like there were some remedies,” Frazier said. “You’ve just got to be patient and handle what you need to handle.”
NOTES: McDermott listed McCoy as day to day, while DE Shaq Lawson is expected to return to practice this week after missing two games with a hamstring injury. ... Allen had 168 yards passing in the first half, the most in the opening two quarters by a Bills player since Tyrod Taylor had 236 in a 30-22 loss at Kansas City on Nov. 29, 2015. ... The Bills have yet to top 300 yards this season after managing 293 against Minnesota.