Sunday's NFL: Grieving Josh Allen shines, Bills torch Seahawks defense
Orchard Park, N.Y. — Josh Allen set aside his grief over the death of his grandmother to enjoy one of the most productive games of his three-year career.
Though Allen made no mention of his loss immediately following a 44-34 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, coach Sean McDermott revealed Allen’s grandmother had died a day earlier while praising his quarterback’s resolve.
“Josh was emotional,” McDermott said.
“He said he wanted to play and you know, he just felt like was going to have to compartmentalize for the better part of 24 hours to get through the game, and that’s what he did,” McDermott added. “It was a big, big win, and a great, great thing for him to play like he played. Just a mentally tough man.”
Allen got the Bills’ offense off to such a productive start, not even Russell Wilson and the high-scoring Seahawks could keep pace. Starting with a three-play, 45-yard scoring drive, Allen threw touchdown passes on three of Buffalo’s first four possessions. He later added a rushing TD.
He finished 31 of 38 and equaled his career best with 415 yards passing. The AFC East-leading Bills are 7-2 through nine games for the first time since 1993, a season that ended with the Jim Kelly-led Bills making their fourth consecutive, and final, Super Bowl appearance.
Allen deflected any praise, noting the defense forced Wilson to turn over the ball four times, and special teams contributions.
“As a whole team, we took care of business today,” Allen said. “Sitting here, 7-2, we’re excited with what we can do and how we can play.”
Allen’s 24 completions and 282 yards passing in the first half alone were both the most by a Bills player since at least 1991.
The Seahawks (6-2) blew an opportunity to match their best record through eight games. They were 7-1 in 2013.
Working with an early 17-0 advantage, the Bills’ defense went into attack mode and rattled Wilson, who was sacked five times, threw two interceptions and lost two fumbles.
“What I will tell you is I don’t recognize that game. We haven’t seen us look like that, and it’s a game that I don’t have any place in my brain for it,” said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who confirmed after the game that he has signed a multiyear contract extension. “We just don’t turn the ball over like that, but we did today and they capitalized on all of it and just made us pay.”
Wilson finished 28 of 41 for 390 yards with two touchdowns, but has seven turnovers in the past three games. He threw a season-worst three interceptions in a 37-34 overtime loss to Arizona two weeks ago.
The turnovers weren’t the only problem. Seattle became the NFL’s sixth team to score 25 or more points in each of its first eight games, but the defense surrendered 420 yards – the fifth time this season an opponent has topped 400 yards.
The 44 points allowed were the most in Carroll’s 11 seasons in Seattle and the most for the franchise since a 48-10 loss at Green Bay on Dec. 27, 2009. It was just the eighth time since Week 9 of the 2011 season the Carroll-led Seahawks have lost by 10 points or more.
“We just got to be cleaner,” Wilson said. “We scored 34 points. We’re a pretty good offense. But I think that we can be better.”
Though Buffalo never trailed, the game was decided in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, when the Bills scored touchdowns over a span of 2:49 to open a 41-20 lead. Zack Moss scored on a 1-yard run, one play after Allen converted a third-and-16 by hitting John Brown on a 33-yard catch-and-run.
Facing third and 25 on Seattle’s next possession, Wilson threw his second interception. Tre’Davious White broke off covering tight end Jacob Hollister to jump in front of a pass intended for DK Metcalf. White returned it to the Seattle 3, and Allen scored on a sweep on the next play.
Wilson provided the Seahawks a breath of life with a 55-yard touchdown pass to David Moore. But on Seattle’s next possession, linebacker A.J. Klein burst around the left side of the line untouched and blindsided Wilson to force the fumble, which he recovered at Seattle’s 19 with 6:30 remaining.
►New Orleans 38, (at) Tampa Bay 3: Drew Brees threw for 222 yards and four touchdowns, regaining the NFL career TD pass lead and lifting the Saints into first place in the NFC South.
The three-time defending division champion won their fifth straight game, intercepting Tom Brady (Michigan) three times and completing a season sweep of the Bucs (6-3), who also suffered a double-digit loss at New Orleans in Week 1.
The Saints (6-2) weren’t perfect – turning the ball over twice themselves – however the offense was extremely efficient with receivers Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders back in the lineup, and the defense played its best game of the season.
Brees was 26-of-32 passing, including first-half TD throws of 14 yards to Tre’Quan Smith, 8 yards to Adam Trautman and 12 yards to Sanders, who missed the previous two games while on the COVID-19 list. The 41-year-old added a 3-yarder to Josh Hill to make it 38-0 with just over nine minutes remaining.
Brees regained the league career TD pass lead with 654, three more than the 43-year-old Brady, who had thrown for 17 touchdowns and just one interception over his previous six games. The Saints intercepted Brady twice in a 34-23 season-opening win, with Janoris Jenkins returning one for a TD.
Defensive Tackle David Onyemata and safeties Marcus Williams and Malcolm Jenkins picked off Brady this time – the last on a throw the six-time Super Bowl threw wildly into the middle of the field as scrambled to avoid a relentless pass rush.
Brady was sacked three times and finished 22-of-38 for 209 yards, including three completions for 31 yards to Antonio Brown (Central Michigan), who made his debut for Tampa Bay in his return from an eight-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
The Bucs ran the ball just five times, including Blaine Gabbert’s kneel-down on the final snap of the night.
The Saints scored on five of their first six possessions to build a 31-0 halftime lead, and the Bucs were fortunate the biggest first-half deficit of Brady’s career wasn’t larger.
Jared Cook fumbled at the Bucs 2 with the Saints looking to build on an early 7-0 lead. But with Tampa Bay’s offense sputtering and one of the league’s stingiest defenses unable to slow down Brees, New Orleans pressed on.
Brady’s first interception, ending a Bucs franchise-record streak of 200 consecutive pass attempts without a pick, led to Alvin Kamara’s 1-yard TD run that made it 28-0 midway through the second quarter.
The Saints outgained the Bucs 241 yards to 36 up to that point. They added Will Lutz’s 36-yard field goal and a second interception, with Marcus Williams snaring a deep throw intended for Brown in the closing minutes of the opening half.
Tampa Bay avoided a shutout with Ryan Succop’s 48-yard field goal with 5:52 remaining.
►Miami 34, (at) Arizona 31: Tua Tagovailoa threw for 248 yards and two touchdowns in his second NFL start and the Dolphins rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the Cardinals.
Miami (5-3) has won four straight. The Cardinals (5-3) had their three-game winning streak snapped.
The 22-year-old Tagovailoa was on the winning end of an action-packed duel with Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray, who finished with 283 yards and three touchdowns. Murray also had 106 yards rushing on 11 carries.
Arizona’s Zane Gonzalez was short on a 49-yard field goal attempt that would have tied the game with 1:53 left.
Tagovailoa was more productive in his second start after throwing for 93 yards against the Rams last week. He showed great poise during two scoring drives in the fourth quarter. The left-hander also made some plays with his feet, extending drives with scrambles. He finished with 35 yards rushing.
The Cardinals pushed ahead 31-24 late in the third quarter on Murray’s 12-yard run. It was the seventh time in eight games the quarterback has thrown and run for at least one touchdown.
But the Dolphins and Tagovailoa fought back on the next series, delivering an impressive 10-play, 93-yard drive that ended with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Mack Hollins. Miami pushed ahead 34-31 with 3:30 left on a 50-yard field goal by Jason Sanders.
►(At) Kansas City 33, Carolina 31: Patrick Mahomes threw for 372 yards and four touchdowns, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill each went over 100 yards receiving, and the Chiefs held on to beat the Panthers when Joey Slye missed a 67-yard field-goal attempt wide right on the final play.
The Chiefs (8-1) were left clinging to the lead when Christian McCaffrey, just back from his ankle injury, scored from a yard out with 1:26 to go. The Panthers’ onside kick was recovered by Kansas City, but they used their three timeouts to get the ball back, and Teddy Bridgewater’s 23-yard pass to Curtis Samuel with 9 seconds remaining gave them hope.
Carolina (3-6) tried to get a bit closer with a pass to McCaffrey, but the incompletion brought on Slye, who had plenty of leg with the wind behind him. His kick dropped just outside the uprights, though, allowing the Chiefs to escape.
Slye also missed a 65-yard attempt late in a 27-24 loss to New Orleans in Week 7.
McCaffrey finished with 18 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown while catching 10 passes for 82 yards and another score. Bridgewater threw for 310 yards and two TDs with Samuel catching nine balls for 105 yards and the other score.
Kelce had 10 catches for 159 yards and Hill had nine for 113 and a pair of scores, helping the pass-happy Chiefs climb out of an early 14-3 hole and head into their bye with a bunch of new milestones and a big surge of momentum.
►Las Vegas 31, (at) L.A. Chargers 26: Justin Herbert’s pass to Donald Parham Jr. for a 4-yard touchdown on the final play of the game was overturned after a replay review, and the Raiders held on to beat the Chargers.
Derek Carr threw two touchdown passes for Las Vegas (5-3), which improved to 4-1 on the road. Herbert was 26 of 42 for 326 yards and two touchdowns for the Chargers (2-6), all of whose losses have come by seven points or less.
This time, Los Angeles got the ball on its 25 with 4:37 remaining and drove to the Las Vegas 4. Herbert found Parham in the right corner of the end zone, but after a replay review, the touchdown was overturned when it was determined the tight end did not maintain possession throughout the catch.
The Raiders trailed 17-14 at halftime but scored on their first two drives of the second half. Carr hit Nelson Agholor for a 45-yard TD and then Darren Waller had a 3-yard score to give Las Vegas a 28-17 advantage with 7:49 remaining in the third quarter.
Michael Badgley’s second field goal brought the Chargers within 28-20. On LA’s next possession, Herbert threw a screen pass to Gabe Nabers for a 4-yard touchdown, but the 2-point conversion attempt failed with 9:12 remaining.
The Chargers forced a three-and-out, but Las Vegas’ Kyle Wilber recovered KJ Hill’s muffed punt at the LA 31. The Raiders took advantage on Daniel Carlson’s 31-yard field goal with 4:42 left.
►Pittsburgh 24, (at) Dallas 19: Ben Roethlisberger threw all three of his touchdown passes after shrugging off a knee injury, rallying the Steelers past the Cowboys.
Pittsburgh is 8-0 for the first time in the storied franchise’s history despite an upset bid from the Cowboys, who were the biggest underdogs they’ve been at home in at least 31 years.
Garrett Gilbert was the fourth different starting quarterback in five games for Dallas (2-7), throwing a touchdown pass in his first career start and bringing some life to the offense for a team that lost its fourth straight game without Dak Prescott.
The Steelers erased a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter with three scoring drives, the last two aided by Dallas penalties that kept drives alive. The go-ahead score was an 8-yarder to Eric Ebron with 2:14 remaining.
The drive to the decisive score appeared to have stalled before it started when Roethlisberger threw incomplete on third down. But linebacker Jaylon Smith was called for hitting Roethlisberger’s facemask after the throw.
Gilbert had a last chance in the final minute after Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin tried to convert a fourth-and-1 instead of kicking a short field goal for an eight-point lead. But Gilbert’s pass to the goal line as time expired was knocked away by Minkah Fitzpatrick.
►Baltimore 24, (at) Indianapolis 10: Lamar Jackson turned up the tempo in the second half, and the Ravens broke the NFL record for consecutive 20-point games in their win over the Colts.
After Gus Edwards’ 1-yard plunge gave Baltimore the lead midway through the third quarter, Jackson sealed the win with a 9-yard TD run.
The Ravens (6-2) have scored 20 or more points 31 straight times — breaking a tie with Denver, which set the mark from 2012-14.
Baltimore has won 10 straight road games, the league’s longest active streak, and earned the franchise’s first win at Indianapolis in seven tries. The Ravens also had lost 20 straight games when trailing at halftime.
It was the first home loss for Indy (5-3) this season.
And, not surprisingly, the league’s reigning MVP turned the game this time by starting the second half with no-huddle against a stingy Colts defense. It changed everything after a sluggish first half in which the Ravens’ defense kept them in the game.
►(At) Tennessee 24, Chicago 17: Ryan Tannehill threw two touchdown passes, and the Titans never trailed as they beat the Bears to snap a two-game skid.
The Titans (6-2) avoided their longest skid since Tannehill took over as starting quarterback and stayed atop the AFC South going into Thursday night’s division showdown against Indianapolis.
They got big help from an undermanned and struggling defense missing three-time Pro Bowl linebacker Jadeveon Clowney with an injured knee.
Cornerback Desmond King picked up a fumble and ran 63 yards for a TD only days after the Titans picked up the 2018 All-Pro from the Chargers for a sixth-round pick. King didn’t join Tennessee until Saturday after clearing COVID-19 testing protocols and put the Titans up 17-0 late in the third quarter.
The Bears (5-4) came in trailing Green Bay in the NFC North dealing with their own injuries and COVID-19 issues. Chicago lost its third straight despite the defense coming up with three sacks and holding the NFL’s fifth-best offense to a season-low 228 yards.
Nick Foles made it interesting with a pair of TD passes within the final minutes. Amani Hooker recovered the Bears’ onside kick attempt for Tennessee with about a minute left.
►(At) Atlanta 34, Denver 27: Matt Ryan took advantage of Denver’s thin secondary to throw three touchdown passes and the Falcons turned back the Broncos' bid for a second consecutive comeback.
Ryan completed 25 of 35 passes for 284 yards with one interception. Atlanta (3-6) improved to 3-1 under interim coach Raheem Morris.
Atlanta led 20-3 at halftime. Drew Lock threw two touchdown passes and ran for a 10-yard score in the final quarter that made it 34-27. With Atlanta leading by seven points, the Broncos (3-5) took the ball at their 20 with 44 seconds remaining and no timeouts. Following three incompletions by Lock, a fumbled snap ended the possession.
One week after throwing three fourth-quarter touchdown passes in a win over the Chargers, Lock tried to spark another rally. With Atlanta leading 27-6, Lock threw a 20-yard scoring pass to Jerry Jeudy early in the fourth quarter. On Denver’s next possession, Lock was under pressure when he overthrew Jeudy and was intercepted by Ricardo Allen, who returned the ball 20 yards to the Denver 12.
Two plays later, Todd Gurley’s 4-yard scoring run extended Atlanta’s lead to 34-13.
Lock completed 25 of 48 passes for 313 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
►Houston 27, (at) Jacksonville 25: Deshaun Watson had touchdowns passes of 57 and 77 yards, the second one appearing to come after the play clock expired, and the Texans beat the Jaguars for their sixth straight win in the series.
Jacksonville (1-7) lost its seventh straight and barely avoided making NFL history. The Jaguars would have become the first to allow at least 30 points in seven consecutive games in a single season. Instead, they will share the record with the 1968 Denver Broncos and the 1984 Minnesota Vikings.
Jacksonville had a chance to tie it late, but rookie Jake Luton’s 2-point conversion pass to DJ Chark landed at his feet. Luton, a sixth-round draft pick making his NFL debut in place of Gardner Minshew, scrambled for 13 yards to make it a two-point game with 1:39 remaining.
Luton stiff-armed rookie Jon Greenard and then spun away from Keion Crossen and into the end zone. Crossen recovered an onside kick that helped Houston (2-6) ice the game.
Both of Houston’s victories this season came against the Jaguars.
Watson was instrumental in each. He threw for 281 yards and two scores in this one, which came three weeks after his 301-yard, two-touchdown passing performance in Houston.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has signed a multiyear contract extension that will keep him tied with the team well past his 70th birthday.
The new deal is expected to go through the 2025 season and was agreed to earlier this season. Carroll said he didn’t feel it appropriate to announce the agreement in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Carroll’s previous contract ran through the end of the 2021 season after being extended in 2018.
... Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list after a staff member tested positive for the coronavirus.
The team, which is on a bye this week and scheduled to host Houston next weekend, released a statement saying it was notified a day earlier of the positive test.
Mayfield is believed to have had close contact with the unidentified infected person. As long as he doesn’t test positive, Mayfield could be allowed to return to practice as early as Wednesday.