Hoping to put 13 seconds behind them.
As his assistant coaches jumped for joy and his father Joel hugged and shook many of the 37 other members of his extended family in attendance, Josh Allen embraced his receiver Gabriel Davis and rocked slowly side to side, unblinking. Allen didn’t look joyful as much as he looked relieved. He looked eased of a burden that had settled on his shoulders when second-year head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane traded up and drafted him seventh in the 2018 draft, a burden that every Bills quarterback had to carry for a franchise haunted by its four straight Super Bowl losses from the early 1990s and the lean two decades that followed.
Allen’s burden grew heavier when critics—perhaps none as confident as Football Outsiders—opined that his poor accuracy and decision-making were an anchor on his 2019 wild-card team and sabotaged his chance of developing into a franchise quarterback. It grew heavier the next year when a suddenly exceptional Allen yielded a 9-0 AFC Championship Game lead with sacks, penalties, and failed third-and-short and red zone conversions that answered a string of Chiefs touchdown drives with Bills field goals and punts. And it grew heavier last season when Allen regressed from his 25.9% passing DVOA of 2020 to a 4.9% rate that would on its own label him a good but not great quarterback.
But Allen was poised to ease that burden after he dismantled the No. 3 Patriots pass defense with a perfect seven touchdowns on seven drives in the best offensive playoff performance in the history of DVOA (108.1%) and then erased two different Chiefs leads in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter of their rematch in the divisional round. Now Allen was 13 seconds away from a torch pass that would make his Bills the AFC favorite to reach the Super Bowl.
The Bills may not have been as dominant in the regular season as they were in the first 119 minutes and 47 seconds of the playoffs, but their 11-6 record belied a 27.6% team DVOA that ranked second-best in football...