The Bills were spending extra time working on throwing the “deep over” route to Robert Foster after practice Tuesday.
The rookie from the University of Alabama was using his 4.41-second speed in the 40-yard dash to sprint in a diagonal from the left side of the formation across to the deep right side of the field.
Sure enough, they called the play at the perfect time in Sunday’s 24-21 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Credit Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll with dialing up a home run -– and Josh Allen with making an elite throw -- on the 75-yard touchdown pass that gave the Bills a 14-0 lead in the second quarter.
“It’s something we just game-planned throughout the week and came through with it,” Foster said.
The Bills’ longest play of the season leads this week’s plays that shaped the game:
1. Foster’s deep over. Jacksonville is known for playing a lot of Cover 3, with a deep safety in the middle of the field and the outside cornerbacks responsible for a deep outside third of the field.
Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye was covering Foster, and safety Barry Church – the lesser coverage man of Jacksonville’s two safeties -- was in the deep middle.
“We have a ton of speed outside,” Bills backup quarterback Matt Barkley said. “If we can utilize that, especially against these guys with the way they play Cover 3 and Cover 1, we were able to do it.”
Foster had so much speed going, Church had no chance to catch him coming across the field. On the other side of the field, Zay Jones ran a hitch, which cornerback Jalen Ramsey bit on.
“It was really just one-on-one with the corner, and he flew by the safety,” Barkley said. “The corner (Bouye) is supposed to carry with him, but he ran by him and ran by the safety.”
The Bills kept tight end Jason Croom in to block and ran a play-action fake. Nevertheless, it required a big-time step-up in the pocket by Allen, who was sandwiched by the Jaguars' Dawuane Smoot and Yannick Ngakoue upon releasing the ball.
“Whether I’m standing up or laying down on the ground, a touchdown is a touchdown, and that feeling won’t change,” Allen said. “It was awesome.”
“I don’t think anyone’s questioning his arm strength,” Barkley said.
2. Jet sweep TD. Second-year receiver Isaiah McKenzie showed off his 4.42 speed on the Bills’ first touchdown, a 6-yard run around right end.
McKenzie got blocks by Logan Thomas on safety Tashaun Gipson and Jones on Ramsey. The Bills had run the fake jet sweep action with McKenzie twice before early in the first quarter.
“During that drive actually I told coach, they’re not sold on the jet sweep,” McKenzie said. “So when we got in the red zone, he called it. We ran it and it was like wide open. Zay and Croom made great blocks.”
Jones took Ramsey’s legs out with a cut block.
“My job is to make sure I protect the edge of the defense,” Jones said. “The last player over there was Jalen. I had to get that block done. I knew if Isaiah could get to the outside we would score. I just threw a cut block the best I could. It’s hard because you don’t cut your players in practice. You don’t want to practice that part.”
“He’s just been a great addition to our offense,” Jones said of McKenzie. “I feel like he provides something that a lot of us weren’t blessed with. He has unbelievable quickness and speed.”
3. Allen’s stiff-arm. The benefit of having a 6-foot-5, 237-pound quarterback with mobility was shown on Allen’s 14-yard touchdown run to open the fourth quarter. He ran through the tackle attempt of Ngakoue at the 7, then absorbed a hit from linebacker Myles Jack at the goal line.
The Bills sold the Jags on the pass by lining up with an empty backfield and putting five receivers in the pattern.
“The quarterback draw down on the goal line in the red zone was a great call by coach Daboll, and we executed it well,” Allen said.
4. Beating the blitz. Allen’s 45-yard fourth-quarter run was critical because it flipped the field and allowed the Bills to pin the Jags on their own 2. With the Jaguars in man coverage, all the defenders had their backs turned as Allen bolted up the field. That kind of play might give opponents some second thoughts about blitzing.
“I came on the blitz, came outside, and he hit one of those gaps,” said Jack. “So we have to go back and look. Everything should be accounted for.”
5. Fans get an assist. The Bills’ goal-line stand late in the third quarter was aided by a false start penalty on Jaguars tight end Joe O’Shaughnessy on a second-down play from the Buffalo 2.
“The crowd is phenomenal whenever we get down in the red zone,” said defensive end Jerry Hughes. “I don’t know how many false starts they’ve caused at home, but it was tremendous. It helped us out in that area to back them up so we could go in as a D-line and get a sack.”