Defensive coordinators can spend the offseason weighing the risks of gambling against Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen.
Allen’s spectacular, 30-yard touchdown run against Miami on Sunday came against a six-man blitz. The Dolphins had the play locked up from a coverage perspective.
But they didn’t have the Bills' QB accounted for, and it cost them. The Bills have been searching for a generation for an elite quarterback who can defeat scheme. That means, you don’t always have to call the perfect play, the QB can overcome whatever the defense throws at him.
Allen gives Bills fans hope that maybe the team has found that guy.
Allen’s TD run highlights the plays that shaped the Bills’ 42-17 victory:
1. Burning the blitz. With the Bills leading, 28-17, Allen faked a handoff to Chris Ivory on a first-and-10 play from the Miami 30.
Allen was looking for Zay Jones, who ran a deep out down the right sideline.
“We had a route dialed up that we wanted, and they didn’t give us the coverage for it,” Jones said. “The defense played a good scheme against what we wanted to do. It was really out of our control. If we had the defensive look we wanted, it would have worked. But Josh being the playmaker he is, saw the defense shifted a little bit. He pulled it down. Honestly, I stuck my hands up in the air because I saw he was going to score.”
Bills back Chris Ivory picked up linebacker Mike Hull, who blitzed up the middle. The other linebacker on the field, Raekwon McMillan, looped on a blitz around left tackle.
That left nobody in the middle of the field to chase Allen. Linebacker Jerome Baker had his back turned to the play because he was covering Charles Clay on the right sideline.
Allen simply got downfield too fast for Miami to react. Allen eluded the lone deep safety, Maurice Smith, at the 5-yard line.
“Josh has very deceptive speed,” Jones said. “If you look up on the board when it shows his speed, he’s running 19, 20 miles per hour. He’s moving. It’s not that quick-twitch maybe, that shakiness, but with his long stride, he’s covering ground. He’s moving for sure.”
2. Back shoulder. Allen missed on a couple key back-shoulder throws in New England last week. The TD pass that put the Bills ahead, 21-14, was a 5-yard back-shoulder pass to Robert Foster, and a check at the line of scrimmage, according to Allen.
“It was perfect by Josh,” Foster said. “We definitely have to be on the same page. We have confidence in the situation.”
3. Walk-in TD. The Bills caught Miami in the perfect defense for LeSean McCoy’s 9-yard, weak-side TD run off left guard.
Miami lined up with a nose tackle over the shoulder of center Ryan Groy and defensive end Andre Branch in a “wide-9” position, well outside of the left tackle. That left a big gap where McCoy was running. Left tackle Dion Dawkins sealed McMillan, and guard Wyatt Teller sealed off Hull.
“This is about to break – that’s what I was thinking,” Dawkins said. “I don’t know if they lined up wrong or something, but we just took advantage of it. Easy.”
4. Deep over, again. The Bills have hit Foster on deep over routes twice the for long scores the second half of the season. This time, Jones ran across the length of the field to the deep corner on his 26-yard TD pass. Miami blew what looked like three-deep coverage, and Jones was wide open.
“We’ve hit Robert Foster on a lot of those crossing routes,” Jones said. “Sometimes I would take out the safety or Isaiah McKenzie would take out the safety. Thinking they would probably be watching that on film, we flipped it. So that way Rob Foster did a good job clearing out his man and the safety, and left it open for me.”
Foster and McKenzie took the coverage with them by running to the left sideline.
5. Defending the QB: The Bills’ offensive linemen were quick to come to the rescue of Allen after Miami’s Kiko Alonso was flagged for a personal foul by hitting him after he had slid on a 9-yard gain.
Guard Ike Boettger was the first to dive on Alonso, then tackle Jordan Mills was ejected for scuffling with Miami’s Robert Quinn.
“You see Josh put his body on the line every week, and when you see somebody take a shot at him like that, you’ve got to protect him,” Boettger said. “That’s our mindset forever since I’ve played offensive line. It wasn’t even a question what Josh was trying to do. If they’re going to take a shot like that at the quarterback, you’ve got to defend him.”
6. Getting out of the pocket. Allen showed how dangerous he is outside the pocket on a 46-yard pass to Ivory, which set up the first TD.
Again, it was a blitz by Miami, but Allen eluded Cameron Wake in the backfield. Baker had Ivory covered but then went after Allen as the QB neared the sideline. Allen calmly lofted the ball to Ivory.
“When the quarterback rolls out, I have to try to stem up and come back to the ball, and that’s what I did,” Ivory said. “I was covered. When I came back down, the defender went towards the quarterback and Josh found me over the top."