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Analysis

Josh Allen makes big jump in leading Bills to 2-0

Vic Carucci

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Put another mark on Josh Allen's growth chart as an NFL quarterback.

This was a big jump from a week ago. It's the sort of step you make in proving you have the goods to be a franchise talent.

"Oh, he balled out," Buffalo Bills veteran running back Frank Gore said of Allen's performance in Sunday's 28-14 victory against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.

The numbers weren't staggering, but were good: 19 completions in 30 attempts (63.3 percent) for 253 yards and a touchdown. He also ran seven times for 21 yards, including a six-yard TD.

Allen is the first Bills quarterback since Jim Kelly to have seven consecutive 200-yard passing games.

But Allen's most impressive stat was the zero in the turnover column. While playing here a week ago, he had a hand in giving the New York Jets the ball four times in the first half. It took a stellar defensive effort to allow the Bills to overcome the mistakes for a one-point win. It also took Allen finding his composure in the final two quarters.

On Sunday, he was poised and ready to deliver from the very start.

"The fact that he was able to come in and step up this week and eliminate some of the mistakes from last week, it was just a testament to his resiliency," offensive tackle Ty Nsekhe said.

"Last week, I just kind of felt settled down, especially in the second half when things kind of started slowing down," Allen said. "I just tried to have the same thought process when I went out there today. Trust the five guys in front of me, trust my guys to go get open, and trust my eyes, my feet."

Maybe the clumsy comment Giants coach Pat Shurmur made earlier in the week about sticking with his pre-2018 draft assessment that Allen "had a chance to be a starter" in the league provided a bit of fuel. Or maybe it was just a case of Allen spending the week dialing himself in and being particularly focused on cutting down mistakes and taking his game up a notch.

Gore had a simpler explanation for the difference.

"It's football," said the running back, who combined with rookie Devin Singletary for 125 rushing yards. "You have ups and downs in this game. As long as he stays with his mind right, like he will, and keep believing in us and we can believe in him, we're going to be fine."

Allen and Shurmur spoke briefly before the game and Allen said they were just "catching up" and there was no mention of Shurmur's remarks.

[Jason Wolf: Bills 2-0 for first time since 2014, but haven't 'accomplished anything']

Let's get this out of the way: the Giants are terrible and the Jets aren't much better. In both cases, the better team did precisely what it was supposed to do by winning.

But a significant part of how the Bills have gotten to 2-0 for the first time since 2014 is worthy of praise. Regardless of the opponent, staging six touchdown drives of 70 or more yards (including four Sunday), makes a loud statement. It hasn't always been pretty, but it has been effective.

And Allen deserves major props for leading the way.

"I think it goes back to practice, just how we practice," he said. "They work extremely hard, all of our receivers, tight ends, our running backs, our O-line. Everybody works extremely hard. When you can do that and you see the results, it makes you want to work that much harder."

Allen targeted 10 different receivers and connected with eight Sunday. John Brown led the way with seven catches for 72 yards. However, it was Cole Beasley who found the gaps in the Giants' lousy secondary on the way to grabbing all four of the passes thrown his way for 83 yards, an average of 20.8 yards per reception.

His biggest came midway through the second quarter, when, on first-and-20 from the Bills' 35, he managed to find a massive hole in the coverage for a 51-yard reception to the New York 14. On the next play, Allen flipped the ball to Isaiah McKenzie, as he cut in front of the quarterback, for a 14-yard touchdown to give the Bills a 21-7 advantage.

Beasley also made an impressive extension to catch a not-so-impressive Allen throw for a 9-yard gain and on third-and-four from the Giants' 43. Allen followed that with a 26-yard connection to McKenzie to help set up Allen's six-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7 late in the first quarter.

On a third-and-10 from the Giants' 26, Allen fired to Beasley, who came back for the ball and then made a pretty spin move to make it a 12-yard reception. One play later, Singletary ran 14 yards for a score to put the Bills in front, 14-7, early in the second quarter.

“The play’s never dead with him, almost," Beasley said of Allen. "Any time he can get out of the pocket and extend plays, we’ve got to do a great job of working for him, so maybe he can stay away from the hits a little bit. Right now, he’s just scrambling and getting yards, but if we can move with him and find open space, that’ll help, too.”

Still, with each week, the needle keeps moving on the confidence Allen has in himself and his teammates have in him.

"We have the right quarterback for this team," Gore said. "I don't care what the outside world says, I know we believe in him. I feel he can do anything on the field, and it showed today."

Bills' defense rights itself after shaky start against Giants

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