Bills quarterback Josh Allen was looking for Zay Jones, the wide receiver running a curl route about 18 yards down the field.
But Allen felt the cornerback was poised to jump the route, and instead uncorked a bomb for undrafted rookie Robert Foster, streaking on a slant across the middle of the field. Allen was crushed by three Jaguars as soon as he released the ball. He didn’t see the catch. But he heard the roar of the crowd.
“Robert saw a safety deep, cut in front of his face, and I didn’t even really see it get caught,” Allen said. “I got hit as soon as I threw it. But looking at the replay, he made a heck of a catch and a heck of an effort after to go score. It was awesome for him.”
Foster caught Allen’s pass at the Jacksonville 37-yard line and streaked down the right sideline for a 75-yard touchdown, the longest of both players’ careers, to give the Bills a 14-0 lead in the first quarter of a game they’d win 24-21 on Sunday at New Era Field.
Foster led the Bills in receiving yards for the second consecutive game. He had two catches on three targets for a game-high 94 yards and the score, the first of his career, against the Jaguars as the Bills won their second consecutive game. He had three catches on four targets for 105 yards in the Bills’ victory against the New York Jets on Nov. 11, after being promoted from the practice squad a day earlier.
Foster made the 53-man roster out of training camp and was active for the first six games with his only two catches coming in Week 2 against the Los Angeles Chargers for 30 yards. His playing time was reduced against the Tennessee Titans or the Houston Texans and he was not targeted in either game.
Days later, he was released when the Bills promoted Cam Phillips and then was signed to the practice squad. His opportunity to return to the 53-man roster came three weeks later when linebacker Ramon Humber was released.
Foster has seven catches for 229 yards and the touchdown this season.
“He put it somewhere I could go and get it and we executed and came down with it,” Foster said, detailing the score.
Bills coach Sean McDermott said Foster contributed in other areas, as well.
“He certainly made some plays down the field,” McDermott said, “but the way he blocked in the run game, he ran some other types of routes as well, some short intermediate routes that got other people open and so we’ve got to continue to play fast on offense and move the football.”
Foster recorded just 35 catches for 389 yards and three touchdowns in four seasons at Alabama.
But he’s beginning to make his mark in the NFL.
He’s already proved to be one of the fastest offensive players in the league, according to Next Gen Stats, which credits him with surpassing 20 mph on 12 occasions in just 140 offensive plays this season. He reached 21.11 mph on the long score against the Jaguars.
“(Foster) can fly and he’s an undrafted free agent,” Allen said, “so he’s definitely that underdog story that you love to see. His work ethic is awesome and we have a really good relationship. It’s good to see him make plays like that. He deserves it because he’s been working extremely hard.”