ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey called Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback Josh Allen "trash" in an offseason interview with GQ, then doubled down on his assessment this week.
Allen responded by setting a team record for a quarterback with 99 rushing yards on 13 carries, including a 14-yard fourth-quarter scramble for a touchdown and another 45-yard run to help seal a 24-21 win. Allen had 101 rushing yards before two kneel-downs to end the game.
“Josh is a baller,” Bills safety Jordan Poyer said. “They can say whatever they want to say about Josh. Jalen can say whatever he wants to say about Josh. Josh came in there and handled that defense today.”
The performance topped the franchise's previous single-game mark of 79 yards, set by Tyrod Taylor in 2015.
“Josh played phenomenal,” Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said. “I would like to see what [Ramsey] thought now, after Josh played as well as he played today. Playing physical. He ran over some of the defensive players and made some big plays. When you talk, you have to show up and show out. Josh was able to do that by just showing the way he played today.”
Allen's efforts might not be enough to put the Bills, who improved to 4-7, back in the conversation for the playoffs. But after being sidelined for four games with an elbow injury, Allen returned to the lineup and gave the Bills promise for 2019 as they close out this season with a six-game stretch in which Allen's development will be paramount.
Despite not having played since Oct. 14, Allen was spectacular in the first quarter Sunday. He completed 5-of-6 passes for 125 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown strike to undrafted rookie wide receiver Robert Foster in which Allen managed a strong and accurate throw despite being sandwiched by multiple Jaguars defenders. Foster, who caught passes of 47 and 43 yards from Matt Barkley in a Nov. 11 victory over the New York Jets, again led the Bills with 94 receiving yards.
The Bills, who scored 41 points in their Week 10 win over the Jets, have scored 65 points in their past two games after managing only 96 in their first nine games, when they went 2-7.
“I said before the Jets game that this offense is really close,” Allen said. “It showed in the last two weeks of what we’re capable of doing. Matt [Barkley] came in against the Jets and did a heck of a job. … Coach [Sean McDermott] says that this is a time for me and us to grow, and I’m doing that and trusting the guys around me.”
Allen also managed a 32-yard completion to wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin in the first half despite being hit. Allen's meager stat line of 8-of-19 passing for 160 yards and an 89.8 passer rating belied his winning performance, which included passes that should have been caught by tight end Jason Croom and wide receiver Deonte Thompson, as well as other completions called back by penalties on the offensive line.
However, the most impressive part of Allen's return was his scrambling ability, similar to when he hurdled a Vikings defender and ran twice for touchdowns during a Week 3 upset win in Minnesota.
“He brings that extra spark,” running back LeSean McCoy said. “He brings that extra electricity in the building. His ability to run the ball, be very elusive, be that big, but also to put the ball in the air going deep. … He’s no chump. He plays hard. They talked a lot about him, so he couldn’t wait to get out there and prove them wrong.”
The question for Buffalo will be the sustainability of Allen's fearless playing style, especially after he had his legs taken out at the end of his 45-yard run Sunday and later had his lower body twisted on a red-zone running play in the fourth quarter.
“Josh is a playmaker,” Alexander said. “Obviously, he’s young and some of the stuff [saying], ‘Throw it away! No, no, no!’ And he’s making plays. I’m just glad he comes out healthy after doing some of that stuff.
“Sometimes, once he gets a big play, you want him to get down and not take unnecessary hits. But he’s a physical guy, young guy. Obviously his body can take that. But he’ll learn from that, because of those [hits] you don’t want your premier guy taking.”