Josh Allen erupts for 417 yards, 4 TDs
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Through a first-half power outage, a lightning delay that suspended play for 35 minutes just after the second half began, and some gritty play by the Miami Dolphins, the Buffalo Bills managed to keep it together and pulled out a 31-28 victory on a bizarre Sunday afternoon at Hard Rock Stadium.
At times it wasn’t pretty as the Bills stumbled badly in the middle of the game, but their hot start coupled with a very big finish enabled them to improve to 2-0 as they beat the Dolphins for the fourth straight time.
As they did last week in their victory over the Jets, the Bills dominated for stretches in the game, but they allowed an inferior opponent to not only to stay within striking distance, but actually take a fourth-quarter lead.
But just when they needed him most, Josh Allen put together a superb go-ahead drive, capping it with a six-yard touchdown pass to rookie Gabriel Davis who made a great diving catch in the end zone with 5:55 left to play.
And following a defensive stop, Allen threw a 46-yard put-away touchdown pass to John Brown on a third-and-9 play that had to leave Bills fans shaking their head in amazement.
Allen became the first Bills quarterback since Drew Bledsoe in 2002 to enjoy back-to-back 300-yard passing games and he did it in style with a 417-yard performance that included four touchdowns to four different receivers and no interceptions.
Oh, and how nice is it to have a true No. 1 receiver like Stefon Diggs who made eight catches for 153 yards. Combined, Diggs, Brown and Cole Beasley totaled 17 catches for 305 yards.
After moving up and down the field on offense in the first half — the Bills had 342 yards including 249 passing by Allen — yet they led only 17-10 at the break.
On their second possession, the Bills put together a wondrous 11-play, 97-yard drive that ended with Allen throwing a one-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end Reggie Gilliam. That score was set up when Allen completed two passes to convert third downs, plus there was a 25-yard hookup with Diggs that got things rolling and a pretty 26-yard connection to Beasley.
Miami answered with a 10-play, 75-yard drive which ended with TV viewers in the dark, so no one saw what happened. Preston Williams beat Tre’Davious White one-on-one for a 26-yard gain to the 2, and then Ryan Fitzpatrick hit DeVante Parker for a two-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7-7.
On the first play after the kickoff Dawson Knox caught an Allen pass for a 38-yard gain but fumbled and Noah Igbinoghene recovered at the Miami 37. Buffalo’s defense forced a quick punt, and Allen took over and directed another crisp march, this one 84 yards in just five plays.
It ended with a 46-yard pass to Isaiah McKenzie followed quickly by a 22-yard touchdown pass to Diggs.
At that point, the Bills looked unstoppable, but they did not finish the half well. They had a drive stalled by a terrible officials’ call against McKenzie who was ruled to have executed an illegal block, even though it was textbook perfect block in a sport called football. Thus, Buffalo settled for a 39-yard Tyler Bass field goal and a 17-7 lead.
Then came a mismanagement of the final two minutes. First, a penalty on Taron Johnson on a punt return set the Bills back to their 19, and after one first down, they were forced to punt.
Fitzpatrick took over at his own 25 with 42 seconds left, and he managed to hit Mike Gesicki for a 27-yard gain that set up Jason Sanders for a 52-yard field goal which cut the Bills’ lead to 17-10.
If ever there was a clear-cut turning point in a game, that sequence would suffice.
Just two plays into the third quarter the game was halted by lightning in the area, and when play resumed, the Bills allowed the Dolphins to take a 20-17 lead early in the fourth.
Miami pulled within 17-13 when Sanders made a 45-yard field goal 3:42 into the third. Soon, Miami was on the move again and it drove all the way to first-and-goal at the 1 yet inexplicably came away empty as the Buffalo defense held on fourth down.
However, a three-and-out by the offense sent the defense right back onto the field, and 10 plays later Jordan Howard scored on a two-yard run to give Miami its first lead.
To their credit, the Bills had a quick response. The play that turned the game back in Buffalo’s favor came on the first play after the kickoff when Allen hit Diggs for a 47-yard gain.
From there, in a second-and-24 hole, he found Beasley for 24 yards. All of that led to Davis’ outstanding diving catch of a six-yard TD pass on third-and-goal which put the Bills back in front with 5:55 left to play.
Needing a stop, the defense got one, and that led to the huge Brown touchdown with 3:09 to go.
Fitzpatrick took advantage of Buffalo’s prevent defense, which prevented nothing as Gesicki caught an eight-yard TD pass with 49 seconds to go, and Williams caught a two-point conversion that cut the deficit to 31-28.
Micah Hyde then sealed the deal by recovering the onside kick.