There are a number of things that Josh Allen cannot do, or at least not yet.
But we know he can run, and he’s showing a certain timeliness, and at the moment, the Bills will take it.
The second-year quarterback led the Bills to a 17-10 win over the Steelers, clinching their playoff spot in the process.
Allen threw for a touchdown and ran for one, making just enough plays against a Steelers defense that hasn’t allowed many lately.
Allen finished the night 13-of-25 passing for 139 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. His accuracy isn’t such that he can carry them conventionally. But taking advantage of a turnover and using his big frame to run in (his ninth rushing touchdown of the year and 17th of his career) has worked.
He might lack polish as a passer, and that’s going to keep the margins very small for them. The Bills had scored 274 points in their first 13 games (21.1 per game), but 68 of them came in two games against the Dolphins. Take that out of the equation, and the 18.7 per game is probably a better indication of where they are.
That will make it harder for them to succeed against teams that can move the ball more efficiently, but the Bills have now won 10 games the hard way.
Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:
1. Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White came back from an early shoulder injury in a big way, and made it clear he’s one of the top cover corners in the game.
His trip to the medical tent proved not to be a big deal, but he had an interception before and after that visit, and they were significant.
White’s now tied for the NFL lead in interceptions with six, matching New England’s Stephon Gilmore (who also had two Sunday against the Bengals).
And while he doesn’t get the attention of his Patriots counterpart, he’s every much the factor in offensive game-planning, or he should be.
2. Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt can fill up a stat sheet, and he might have a future as a fighter.
Watt finished the game with half a sack, two quarterback hits, two tackles for loss, breaking up a pass and forcing a fumble.
But one play he didn’t make suggested a future in another sport. He tried to punch the ball away from Allen in the fourth quarter, and even though he missed, you could tell the man could box if he wanted.
3. Not many teams have future Hall of Fame running backs as backups.
But the Bills might have run the risk of going to theirs too quickly.
But Singletary has proven why he’s getting the bulk of the work instead of Gore lately. He was averaging 5.6 yards per attempt going into the game.
Gore doesn’t need to be given any honorary degrees at this point — he’s earned his respect. Singletary has also earned the chance to make more big plays, even though he’s been making them for a short time.
They didn’t leave him in the doghouse for long, and he finished with 21 carries for 87 yards. But they can’t afford to keep him off the field for long, if they’re going to contend with teams that can score.
4. Steelers right tackle Matt Feiler won’t score fantasy points, but he saved the Steelers four real ones.
He prevented a touchdown by knocking White out of bounds on his second touchdown, forcing the Bills to eventually settle for a field goal.
It was a huge swing on a night when offense was hard to come by, and the Steelers benefitted from his hustle.
5. Every game, there’s some call that makes you wonder if the guys wearing stripes are watching.
In the second quarter, Bills linebacker Tremaine Edmunds called for a facemask penalty, which was fine except for one thing. He had Steelers running back Kerrith Whyte by the jersey as he dragged him to the ground, never making contact with Whyte’s helmet.
The call was later charged to cornerback Kevin Johnson, but he went in with his shoulders lowered and didn’t appear to grab White’s facemask either.
The league has promised a top-down review of its officiating operation this offseason, and they need to, because it’s a conversation far too often.