ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — While leading the Buffalo Bills to a second straight win, it sounds as if rookie quarterback Josh Allen might have made a positive impression on one of his harshest critics.
After he was reminded this week of how Jacksonville cornerback Jalen Ramsey once referred to him as “trash,” Allen was making his way off the field following a 24-21 victory over the Jaguars on Sunday when he was tapped him on the back. Allen turned to see Ramsey with his hand outstretched.
“He just shook my hand and said, ‘Good job,'” Allen said.
“He’s an ultimate competitor just like myself, and maybe it’s a respect thing. I’m not really sure,” he added. “But I appreciate that, and it takes a big man to do that.”
Showing few signs of the sprained right elbow that sidelined him the past five weeks, Allen completed a 75-yard touchdown pass to Robert Foster. Then the 22-year-old Allen punctuated his return by posing in the end zone with his biceps flexed after breaking two tackles and scoring the go-ahead touchdown on a 14-yard run at the start of the fourth quarter.
“I love the fire. He personifies Buffalo, right? He’s a hard worker, blue-collar kid, and loves to compete,” coach Sean McDermott said. “He’s still so young, so again, let’s manage expectations. It was a good start for him.”
Ramsey credited Allen for leading the Bills to the victory, but didn’t exactly take back the comments he made about the quarterback in a story published in GQ magazine in August.
“It doesn’t matter what I said. I’m sure that’s really what he was thinking,” Ramsey said. “You can have opinions, but it’s about what you go out there and do. And what he did was go out there for his team and get a win.”
Allen was far from perfect while exhibiting some of the inconsistency he showed while going 2-3 before he got hurt in a 20-13 loss at Houston on Oct. 14. He finished 8 of 19 for 160 yards, and his touchdown to Foster was the longest completion by a Bills quarterback since Week 2 of the 2016 season.
Allen also had a team-leading 99 yards rushing to set a franchise record for quarterbacks.
The Bills finished with 327 yards of offense for their second-best total this season and their top total with Allen at quarterback. He also didn’t turn the ball over, after throwing five interceptions and losing a fumble in his previous six appearances.
It was the type of development McDermott wanted to see from Allen. He started the rookie ahead of journeyman Matt Barkley, who led Buffalo to a 41-10 win over the New York Jets before the Bills’ bye week.
The Bills invested plenty into Allen by trading up five spots to select him seventh overall — the highest position in the draft order Buffalo has ever chosen a quarterback.
“It was a good start for him,” McDermott added. “That’s a heck of a defense out there.”
Allen set up Buffalo’s first touchdown drive — a 6-yard run by Isaiah McKenzie — with a 32-yard pass to Kelvin Benjamin, who was being covered by Ramsey.
The Bills then scored on their next possession on Allen’s pass to Foster. Standing in the pocket, with pass-rushers Yannick Ngakoue and Dawuane Smoot closing in on him, Allen found Foster wide open up the right sideline.
Allen didn’t get to see the completion because he was hit just as he released the pass.
“Whether I’m standing up or laying down on the ground, a touchdown is a touchdown and that feeling won’t change,” he said. “It was awesome.”
Bills safety Jordan Poyer was impressed by what he saw from Allen.
“Jalen can say whatever he wants to say about Josh, but Josh came in there and handled that defense today,” Poyer said.
Allen played down any hint of bitterness he might hold against Ramsey.
“There was a lot of trash-talking before and after, but ultimately my job is to go out there and help this team win football games,” he said.
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