The MVP chants began raining from the stands in the second quarter, after Josh Allen threw his third touchdown of the game.
But the quarterback’s most impressive possessions were yet to come.
“Coach always preaches double-dipping,” Bills guard Jon Feliciano said. “That’s when you score before the half and be the first team to score after half.”
The Bills cashed in on both occasions, as Allen finally rediscovered his elite form of a year ago in a 43-21 stomping of the Washington Football Team on Sunday at Highmark Stadium.
Allen completed 32 of 43 pass attempts for 358 yards and four touchdowns while running for another score, motivated in part to perform at his best for offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who lost his grandmother Wednesday.
People are also reading…
But Allen’s ability to lead a lightning-quick drive to get the Bills in field goal range at the end of the first half, when they took over at their own 20-yard line with 26 seconds to go, coupled with a backbreaking 93-yard, 17-play touchdown drive to begin the second half, left little doubt as to the outcome of the game or whether last season’s record-setting offense was an aberration.
It was not.
And after struggling with rhythm and accuracy in a Week 1 loss to Pittsburgh and sputtering throughout the first half of last week’s blowout victory at Miami, the Bills are back in business and their quarter billion-dollar QB is leading the charge.
“We definitely found our rhythm today,” said Bills receiver Cole Beasley, who snagged a game-high 11 catches for 98 yards. “The first two games, we were struggling a little bit. Even last game, winning 35-0, it was hard to feel good about it because our drives would stall a few times. But today felt a lot more like what we expect and what we want it to be.”
Allen, who was not sacked, led eight scoring drives on the way to producing his fifth career game with at least four passing touchdowns and 300 passing yards, the most in franchise history. The only other quarterbacks to match the feat in their first four NFL seasons are Patrick Mahomes, Dan Marino, Andrew Luck and Kurt Warner.
Allen’s two-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter, which gave the Bills a 43-14 lead, was the 26th of his career and set the franchise record for most rushing touchdowns by a QB, breaking a tie with Jack Kemp.
The Bills moved to 9-0 in Allen's career when he throws for at least 300 yards in a game.
“I just care so much about my teammates and my biggest fear is letting them down,” Allen said.
Buffalo raced to a 21-0 lead against Washington, fueled in part by a couple of turnovers forced by the defense. But Allen’s command when Washington responded, scoring two touchdowns in just more than two minutes to chop its deficit to 21-14, made all the difference.
Allen led the Bills on a pair of field goal drives before intermission, the first one disappointing, as they reached the Washington 3-yard line. But the second was a work of art, a testament to Allen and the offense as much as the coaching staff for being smart and aggressive.
The Bills took over at their own 20-yard line with a 24-14 lead, 26 seconds remaining in the half and all three timeouts.
And they came out firing.
“That’s the offense we know and love,” safety Micah Hyde said.
Stefon Diggs stepped out of bounds after a 13-yard gain.
Beasley picked up 22 yards, and the Bills called their first timeout.
They used their second after Diggs gained another 11, getting pushed out of bounds at the Washington 34 with six seconds to go.
“That type of trust that you have in your offense, we feel that,” Allen said. “When coach is allowing us to go out there and be us, it’s a good feeling.”
Allen then hit Dawson Knox for five yards.
The tight end stepped out of bounds with 2 seconds left, allowing Tyler Bass to drill a 48-yard field goal for a 27-14 lead as time expired.
“It was a situation that we spend a lot of time on in practice, so I praise our players,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said. “They were extremely calm. I thought Josh really got into a good rhythm. And then with six seconds left, that’s a situation we’ve been in before, as well, so it felt like it was the right decision to take one more play and then go kick the field goal and execute it at a high level.”
Washington received the ball first after intermission. It picked up one first down and punted, pinning the Bills at their own 7-yard line.
Ninety-three yards, 17 plays and 8:17 later, Emmanuel Sanders had his second touchdown catch of the day, this one a five-yard grab, and the game’s outcome was a formality.
“When you can do things like that on offense, that is a dagger,” left tackle Dion Dawkins said. “Stuff like that hurts for a defense. If we can run down the field 93 yards and also score before halftime, that is definitely a haymaker punch.”
Allen completed 9 of 10 pass attempts on the drive.
The methodical march picked up eight first downs.
“A long drive, it takes the wind out of their sails, for sure,” Allen said, “and just instills a lot of confidence in our team, knowing that our guys can play loose. It puts the other team in a tough position where you basically know they’re going to have the pass the ball, and at that point you can switch it up and do some different types of game planning things on defense and show different looks and not be afraid to fail.
“That’s one thing that Coach McDermott, he gives us the green light. He said, ‘As long as you’re going 100 miles an hour, don’t be afraid to fail.’ Everybody’s got each other’s backs on this team. It’s a really good feeling.”
Sanders, who also caught the first touchdown of his Bills career on a 28-yard reception in the first quarter, marveled at the team’s use of tempo when the offense went no-huddle.
“In preseason, I was blown away by the no-huddle package that we’ve got,” Sanders said, “and then the first two games, obviously everybody wanted it to pop out. It popped today.”
Allen and the Bills also orchestrated a long touchdown drive on their first possession of the second half last week in Miami, grinding out 75 yards in eight plays to take a commanding 21-0 lead over the Dolphins.
The encore performance against Washington was far more impressive.
Last season, Allen finished second in NFL MVP voting while leading the Bills to the AFC championship game, but he did so while largely playing in empty stadiums.
Now, he’s beginning to show it was no fluke.
“We all have 100% confidence in Josh,” Hyde said. “We preach it a lot in practice. He’s our guy. He’s the man. He’s our MVP.”