Things had unravelled quickly for the Bills Sunday afternoon in Orchard Park. They had blown a 25-point second half lead. But they got the ball back at their own 25 yard line, needing a touchdown to win the game, with exactly four and a half minutes to do it.
Josh Allen and the offense were staring at 75 yards of Bills Stadium turf between them and the end zone. Allen, who had engineered a fourth quarter comeback just seven days earlier in South Florida after the team let go of another double-digit lead, never wavered. Neither did the rest of the offense, or the coaching staff.
As head coach Sean McDermott told reporters Monday afternoon, they had faced these situations before, and each time they do, they grow and learn from it, giving them a chance to win the game, and the confidence to do it.
“You learn through experiences,” McDermott said. “We as a team have learned through shared experiences.”
After a wild sequence of plays, including converting a 3rd and 22, Allen himself being called for a facemark penalty, costing his team 15 yards, and a pass interference penalty on fourth down that had it not been called would have ended the game with a Bills’ loss, Allen and the offense faced a first and goal from the Rams 3-yard with only 21-seconds left on the clock.
That’s when those experiences became very beneficial.
“We’re inside the ten yard line, five yard line there, and there was absolutely no panic,” McDermott explained. “On the headset. From our players. On the sideline. From our players on the field. Just a lot of calm. Whether it’s Josh in this case or any other player or staff member, we’ve been there a number of times before, and that’s awesome.”
One of the experiences was the team’s playoff loss back in January against the Houston Texans. In that one, as the lead was evaporating, Allen admitted he tried to do too much and made poor decisions trying to make plays that weren’t necessary. He drew upon that game on Sunday evening, telling reporters he approached it differently, understanding what needed to be done.
“I took a lot from that game,” Allen said about the Texans playoff loss. “I wasn’t trying to force the ball in the end zone. I was taking kind of what they were giving us. I know we had time. I wasn’t trying to panic. Our team wasn’t panicking. I think, especially in that situation, they look to the quarterback to kind of be cool and calm and that’s what I was trying to be, and our guys made some plays, some spectacular plays, and we got it done.”
McDermott not only echoed what Allen said about his growth from the playoff loss, but overall as a player since then. As well.
“I think you’re seeing what we’ve seen in practice, and really going back to training camp with the way he’s approached his offseason and even before training camp, to now,” McDermott said of his quarterback. “A tremendous amount of growth.”
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