In Bills’ opening win, Josh Allen looked to finish what he couldn’t last season

·5 min read

The 2021 divisional playoff game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills was one of the most dramatic we’ve seen. It propelled the Chiefs to the AFC Championship game, and forced the NFL to change the overtime rules, because the Chiefs had an overtime possession, scored a touchdown, and the Bills were unable to respond per the rules of the time.

“It’s just tough, you know? To be in that moment again,” Allen said after the agonizing 42-38 loss. “It sucks the way it happened, you know? We wanted to win that game. We had opportunities. Just, yeah, taking it all in, holding onto that feeling, and making sure we don’t feel like this again — back-to-back years in the same spot. It’s tough to take in.”

Making sure he didn’t feel like that again was Job One for the Bills in the new season. Allen, who completed 27 of 37 passes for 329 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions (he actually out-performed Patrick Mahomes in that game) came into the new season with a clear sense of vengeance. In the 2022 preseason, Allen threw just three passes, but he made them all count, completing all three for 45 yards and this 28-yard touchdown missile to receiver Gabe Davis out of considerable pressure.

Allen continue his revenge tour in the Bills’ 31-10 thrashing of the Los Angeles Rams in the 2022 regular-season opener, completing 26 of 32 passes for 297 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions (more on those in a minute). Allen also ran 10 times for 56 yards and another touchdown.

“That first half, being careless with the football and putting our defense in bad situations,” Allen told NBC’s Melissa Stark after the game. “But they bowed up, they gave us a chance, and we went in with three turnovers at halftime. We knew that if we came out and executed like we know we can execute, we were going to move the ball and score.”

There weren’t many howitzers to start in this game — Aaron Donald was killing each member of the Bills’ offensive line early on, and new play-caller Ken Dorsey responded by keeping Allen in the quick-game corral for the most part, hoping that this would keep Allen upright, and mistake-free.

In the first half, it actually worked pretty well.

It worked especially well when Gabe Davis caught the first touchdown pass of the 2022 season — a boot-right touch pass that the Rams weren’t prepared to defend, because Buffalo’s offense sold the run so effectively. Among Allen’s other attributes, he was the most effective boot-action quarterback in the NFL last season, so the Rams should have been better-prepared for this.

Of Allen’s two interceptions in the game, only the second was his fault. The first was the aforementioned pass to McKenzie. The second was on a crosser to receiver Jamison Crowder that looked like either Allen miscalculating the route, or Crowder forgetting that he was supposed to keep going.

There weren’t many other throws Allen would have wanted back on the night.

When Allen did finally decide to uncork one deep, it was a 47-yard killer to Gabe Davis at the start of the fourth quarter that set up Allen’s touchdown run, where he just blew up new Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner a six-time First-Team All-Pro and future Hall of Famer.

And this 53-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs with 9:25 left in the game was absolutely ridiculous.

Speaking of Allen as a runner, there was this vivisection of Rams safety Nick Scott on this third-and-7 stiff-arm at the end of a conversion run.

If you’re getting the idea that Josh Allen is on a mission to make the rest of the NFL play in triplicate for its stupid overtime rules, that was certainly the feeling on the field. The Bills took the Rams to the proverbial woodshed, handing the Rams the second-largest margin of defeat any defending Super Bowl champ has ever suffered — their 21-point embarrassment was exceeded only by the 2013 Baltimore Ravens, who suffered a 49-21 loss to the Denver Broncos in which Peyton Manning threw seven touchdowns and no interceptions.

Josh Allen wasn’t dealing it at Manning’s level, but then again, Manning wasn’t beating up safeties and legendary linebackers as a runner, either.

In the end, the effect was about the same. The reigning champions were rained on from the start, to an embarrassing degree, and if this is how Josh Allen is going to play all season, there are 31 NFL teams who will wish the league had changed its overtime rules a year before it did.

Story originally appeared on Touchdown Wire