ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The many assurances Bills quarterback Josh Allen provided in April and repeated throughout the summer over how he was placing an emphasis on cutting down on turnovers suddenly seem like empty promises entering Week 2 of the season.
There, in the early hours of Tuesday morning, an emotionally drained Allen sat at the podium having to explain how his four-turnover outing ultimately cost Buffalo in a 22-16 overtime loss to the New York Jets.
“Trying to force the ball. “Same (stuff), same place, different day,” the player who graces this year’s Madden video game cover said glumly, spiking his words with a profanity. “I can’t. I hurt our team tonight.”
This was hardly the first time Allen has been required to explain himself in front of cameras following an error-filled performance.
And it may not be the last for someone who is just as capable of throwing three or more touchdowns — he’s 19-1 when he does that — as he is committing two or more turnovers (9-12) in an outing.
Uniquely talented as the sixth-year player has proven to be as both a passer and runner in leading the Bills to win three consecutive AFC East titles, the stubborn over-reliance Allen places on his abilities versus trusting those around him continues to be a drag on his reputation.
What’s troubling about Monday’s outing is how the Bills were in a prime position to win, especially after the Jets lost starter Aaron Rodgers to a season-ending torn left Achilles injury during the first series, before Allen tilted the field back in New York’s favor in squandering a 13-3 lead at the half.
His third interception, a throw forced to the sideline intended for Gabe Davis on third-and-2 and with less than five minutes left, led to the Jets tying the score at 13.
On Allen’s next play from scrimmage, he mishandled a snap before recovering the ball. Rather than giving himself up, Allen rushed toward the line only to lose a fumble, which led to the Jets go-ahead score.
Sure, Allen effectively engineered a nine-play, 43-yard drive to set up Tyler Bass hitting a 50-yard field goal to tie the game with 2 seconds remaining. But the score was never supposed to be this close if not for Allen.
“I know he’s capable of playing better,” coach Sean McDermott said. “He’s capable of playing smarter as well.”
Allen’s teammates have his back.
“That 17 is special. It doesn’t matter if it's three or four (turnovers),” tackle Dion Dawkins said. “That doesn’t define 17, not even a little bit.”
Added tight end Dawson Knox: “It’s never one person.”
As much as the Bills run defense sprung leaks in giving up 172 yards rushing, and Buffalo’s special teams unraveled in allowing Xavier Gipson to close overtime by scoring on a 65-yard punt return, the brunt of the blame does fall on one person, who said so himself.
“I am the reason why we lost tonight,” Allen said.
Second-year offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey was effective in getting his array of playmakers involved. Speedy receiver Deonte Harty got time working out of the backfield. Rookie tight end Dalton Kincaid had four catches for 26 yards. And running back James Cook showed burst on 12 runs and also caught four passes.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
A run defense that was unable to contain Breece Hall, who had 127 yards on 10 carries, including an 83-yard gain with the Jets backed up at their 4.
LB Matt Milano was a force in having a hand in eight tackles, including one for a loss, and being in position to intercept Zach Wilson.
CB Kaiir Elam who was a healthy scratch in the latest career setback for a player the Bills selected in the first round of the 2022 draft. Elam spent last season splitting time with fellow rookie Christian Benford, with Benford now taking over the starting spot opposite Tre'Davious White.
S Micah Hyde was bothered by cramping issues late in the game.
30-21 — Allen’s record when he commits a turnover, and he's 10-14 when he does so in the second half of a game.
The Bills look to their home opener on Sunday, when they host the Las Vegas Raiders, who are coming off a 17-16 win at Denver. The Raiders left Denver to travel to West Virginia, where they’ll spend the week acclimating to the Eastern time zone.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl
John Wawrow, The Associated Press