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NFL

Josh Allen Looked Like A Star, And Got A Little Help

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 27: Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills looks to throw a pass and gets tackled by Aaron Donald #99 of the Los Angeles Rams during the second half at Bills Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Orchard Park, New York. Bills beat the Rams 35 to 32. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

Rams-Bills was a bizarre, hilarious, infuriating game of football in all the best ways guaranteed to get everyone overheated. Josh Allen announced himself as a legitimately great quarterback, then turned into a bum, then maybe-sorta-kinda redeemed himself. The Rams engineered a historic comeback, then couldn’t hold onto it. (Or, alternately, the Bills suffered a historic collapse, then bailed themselves out.) And the officials made questionable calls, for both sides, including one that decided the game. Can anyone involved really feel unalloyed positivity about this game? No, which means it was great.

Buffalo nipped the Rams 35-32 at home, and a hell of a lot happened. Allen put up an adult-sized stat line, throwing for 311 yards and four TDs, and running for another, and yet my lasting memory of this game will be him somehow committing a facemask foul while trying not to get sacked by three guys in a late-game moment in which he absolutely could not take a penalty. L.A. was down 28-3 in the third quarter, then found the end zone on four consecutive possessions to take the lead and set themselves up for what would have been the third-biggest comeback in NFL history. (Tied with, uh, another 28-3 game you might remember.)

With time ticking away and facing a third-and-25 at the Rams’ 30 because of the facemask flag, Allen found Stefon Diggs underneath for 17 yards. It was perhaps a bold call, with no real chance to reach the first down marker or end zone, but with a good chance to succeed against a prevent defense, and it more than halved the distance to paydirt, but reduced the game to one final play.

On fourth down, Allen looked for Gabriel Davis, who was briefly locked up with—and released by—Rams CB Darious Williams. It was called defensive pass interference, and given a new set of downs from the 3, Allen found TE Tyler Kroft for the winning score.

So, was that a penalty? Fox analyst Mike Pereira said it was, though he tends to back up the zebras’ calls. It certainly raises some controversial questions of whether games are called differently in late, big moments, and whether they ought to be.

But none of that really matters in the end. The Bills are 3-0 and all alone in first in their division. Josh Allen is putting up an expanding body of work that argues a whole lot of us might have severely underestimated him. And, as has been the case since Super Bowl LIII, I have absolutely zero idea what to make of the Rams.