BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–The headline atop this space a week ago said it was time for the real Josh Allen to step up in the Bills’ big showdown against the Seahawks in Buffalo on Sunday.
Which was the real Allen — the guy who was a top candidate for league MVP with the Bills unbeaten through the first four weeks, or the quarterback who was fairly ordinary over the ensuing month?
Well, on a day when the Bills made a resounding statement to the football world, Allen provided an emphatic reply for his critics, returning to his brilliant form of September in a 44-34 victory over Seattle.
Allen played what many observers were calling the finest game of his career, which is saying a lot when you consider that his September represented one of the best stretches of quarterback play in franchise history.
Matched up against Russell Wilson, the favorite for league MVP, Allen completed 31 of 38 passes for 415 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for a TD and outplayed Wilson on a day when the Bills got to 7-2 for the first time since 1993.
During the four-game stretch that preceded Sunday, Allen has just four total completions of 20 yards or more. He had 21 such passes in the first four games. Against Seattle, he had nine 20-plus completions to seven different receivers.
Following a four-game stretch when his passing production declined by more than 100 yards per game, Allen reminded us how good he can be when he has all his weapons healthy (John Brown) and the Bills attack relentlessly with the pass — albeit against a pass defense trending to be the worst in NFL history.
Allen matched his 415-yard passing day against Miami in the second week of the season. Drew Bledsoe set the record of 459 passing yards in a win at Minnesota in 2002, though 157 of those yards came in overtime.
Bledsoe is the only Bills quarterback ever to throw for more yards than Allen in regulation. He had 417 passing yards against Oakland in that ’02 season, three weeks after his big game against the Vikings. Joe Ferguson threw for 419 at Miami in 1983, but a chunk of that came in overtime.
Allen is now third in the league in passing yards with 2,587, a pace that would give him 4,599 over 16 games and break the franchise record of 4,359 set by Bledsoe in 2002. That remains the only 4,000-yard passing season in Bills history.
Some other current NFL ranks for Allen: He’s tied for fifth in touchdown passes with 19; sixth in completions (217) and completion percentage(68.9); seventh in yards per pass attempt (8.2); and eighth in passer rating (107.2).
He’s back on pace to break the franchise records for touchdown passes (33 by Kelly in 1991); completions (375 by Bledsoe in ’02); completion percentage (67.4 by Kelly Holcomb in ’05) and passer rating (102.1 by Kelly in ’91).
Allen is only 502 passing yards shy of the 3,089 he had a year ago, over a full 16 games. He’s one short of the 20 touchdown passes he threw last season. His completion percentage is up a staggering 10 points over a year ago — to 68.9 from 58.8.
Of course, the challenges keep coming in a league with so many dynamic young quarterbacks. Next Sunday, the Bills travel to Arizona for a 4:05 game against the Cardinals, who are 5-3 and averaging 29 points a game behind their second-year QB, Kyler Murray.
It promises to be another entertaining, high-scoring affair. Both quarterbacks have accounted for 24 touchdowns on the season. Allen has 19 passing TDs and five rushing. Murray has thrown for 16 TDs and rushed for eight, putting him on pace to break Cam Newton’s record of 14 rushing TDs by a quarterback.
Allen is making rapid progress in the most important stat of all: Wins. He is now 22-14 as a starter for the Bills. His winning percentage of 61.1 is second only to Kelly’s 63.1 percent among Bills quarterbacks who have started at least 10 games.
With two more victories, Allen would reach 24 and pass Bledsoe for fourth in franchise wins by a QB, behind only Kelly, Joe Ferguson and Jack Kemp. Pretty good company.