QB Josh Allen Has His Coming Out Party; Leads Bills to NFL's Biggest Upset
By Tracy Ringolsby, Special to The Sports Xchange
Josh Allen might be a rookie quarterback and might be raw around the edges. But what the NFL discovered on Sunday, and what the Buffalo Bills celebrated, is Allen has a focus and a determination to succeed and he meets his goal, despite all the doubts he has faced in his career.
Remember, this is a young man whose childhood dream was to play football at Fresno State, but the Bulldogs wouldn't even let him walk-on out of high school.
This is a young man, who went to junior college for a year in hopes of finding a four-year school that would welcome him, and when he sent out 100 emails, complete with videos, only one school responded - Wyoming.
This is a young man who left Wyoming a year early, and became the seventh player selected in last spring's NFL draft, leaving many draft experts, who had never seen Allen play and relied on the old world of statistical analysis and not competitive nature, blasting the Bills.
This is a young man, who was given his first NFL start the second week of his rookie season, suffered through a game that became a lopsided loss, and led to more questions about the Bills' decision to trade up so they could get Allen.
On Sunday, in Minnesota, however, this is a young man who gave the Bills, their fans and the rest of the NFL a good look at why the folks in Firebaugh, Ca., and at the University of Wyoming are such strong believers in him.
It was a Vikings team known for his smothering defense that the Bills beat, 27-6, and according to ESPN's Bill Barnwell became the fifth NFL team since 1990 to win as an underdog of 15 or more points, and the first to win by seven or more points.
Now the focus of all this became a brilliant display of Allen's athleticism and his willingness to do whatever it took to make something happen when he hurdled linebacker Anthony Barr - literally hurdled - to turn a five-yard gain into a 10-yard gain on a third-and-nine play.
"Did you see that hurdle," Bills safety Micah Hyde asked after the game. "I jumped off the bench, man. I think I was on the field trying to dab him up. It was a huge play. Don't do it again, though."
Guess what, he will. It's not the first time Allen has made a play like that. He did it at Wyoming. It's just that a small Division I school in the least populated state in the United States doesn't necessarily get a lot of attention.
The Bills scored three touchdowns. And Allen had a hand in each. He passed for one and he ran for two.
"Hey, that kid's got something that you don't see from many rookies, man," offensive tackle Jordan Mills said. "His enthusiasm, the way he works every day. He's going to have mistakes, but he's going to make plays. And he's going to get better and better and better."
Here's the other thing. As good as he was, he could have been better. Four first-half passes he threw were dropped - when he was credited with completing 12 of 19 for 172 yards. Two of them were dropped by the Bill's No. 1 receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, including one that had touchdown written on it. Tight end Charles Clay also dropped a potential touchdown pass, and rookie receiver Robert Foster didn't hang on to a well thrown bomb.
What caught the nation's attention, though, was his ability to run with the ball. There was that well seen hurdle, but he also outran Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr on that 10-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, and called his own number to bull his way over the line on a fourth-and-goal play on the Vikings 1.
The Bills went to a ball-control approach in the second half. There was no padding of numbers.
No big deal. That's not Allen's style.
As his fans from Wyoming know, Allen's style is to do what it takes to win.
He is the ultimate gamer, an intangible too often overlooked.
--Tracy Ringoslby is an award-winning baseball writer and faithful alum of Wyoming. He publishes insidetheseams.com and this article was featured in the "Write-em-Cowboy" section of the site.