Josh Allen played with the poise of a well-seasoned quarterback for the Buffalo Bills by accounting for three touchdowns in his first road start in the NFL. Allen made Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins look like the raw rookie in a stunning 27-6 upset of the Vikings on Sunday afternoon.
Cousins had three turnovers, including a lost fumble on a third-down sack inside Minnesota’s 20-yard line, on each of the first two possessions. Buffalo turned those recoveries into 10 points and was on cruise control by midway through the second quarter as the crowd at U.S. Bank Stadium cranked up the boos.
The Vikings (1-1-1) were 16½-point favorites when the game began, allowing the Bills (1-2) to become only the sixth such underdog in the NFL’s last 81 point spreads that big. After being outscored 75-9 over their first six quarters of the season, the Bills have enjoyed a 41-9 advantage over the last six periods.
Allen, the seventh overall pick in the draft out of Wyoming who took the job earlier than expected in relief of a struggling Nathan Peterman in the opener, completed 15 of 22 passes for 196 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown pass to wide-open tight end Jason Croom.
Though Allen took three sacks and fumbled three times, the Bills were able to recover all of them. He settled almost exclusively for safe underneath or sideline throws, but took advantage of several broken coverages by the Vikings for chain-moving gains.
Where Allen did the most damage was on the ground, putting together a mini-highlight film with his feet while injured running back LeSean McCoy watched in team-colored sweats — with a big smile — from the sideline. Allen dived to finish a 10-yard run by beating Anthony Barr to the edge of the end zone and scraping the pylon with the ball to finish the game’s first drive.
At the end of the first quarter on third-and-9, Allen sprinted straight up the middle out of a collapsed pocket and hurdled Barr 2 yards short of the marker to get the first down. He capped that possession with a 1-yard touchdown sneak on fourth down for a 24-0 lead in the second quarter.
Allen became the first Bills rookie to run and pass for at least one score each in his first career road start.
With running back Dalvin Cook (hamstring) inactive and the score so lopsided, the Vikings set a franchise record for fewest rushing attempts with six. Cousins took four sacks.
That’s because Buffalo’s front seven, with former Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier serving as defensive coordinator, overwhelmed Minnesota’s offensive line. Left tackle Riley Reiff was beaten regularly by Jerry Hughes, who had one of the sacks that caused a fumble. Linebacker Matt Milano had a sack, an interception and a fumble recovery. Defensive end Trent Murphy took credit for the other strip sack.
The Bills, including their playoff game, went the final eight games of last season without recovering a fumble.
Cousins finished 40 for 55 for 296 yards and a late touchdown to Kyle Rudolph.
The Vikings inducted the late Dennis Green, who’s second behind Bud Grant in winning percentage as a head coach, into their Ring of Honor. Green, who guided the Vikings to the playoffs in eight of his 10 seasons, became the 24th member. The Vikings beat the Bills in all three meetings under Green.
Bills: Beyond McCoy (rib) and Gaines (elbow), backup DE Shaq Lawson (hamstring) was inactive. … C Russell Bodine, who started in place of Ryan Groy, limped off with leg cramps in the third quarter. Groy, who had moved to LG when Vlad Ducasse left with an injury, shifted back to the middle as Ducasse re-entered. … Lewis left with an injury in the fourth quarter, as did Murphy (ankle).
Vikings: In addition to Cook and DE Everson Griffen (knee), backup TE David Morgan (knee) and PR Marcus Sherels (ribs) were held out. … CB Trae Waynes (ankle) left the game in the first quarter and did not return. … RT Rashod Hill (ankle) limped off in the second quarter and was replaced by rookie Brian O’Neill.
Bills: Play at Green Bay next Sunday.
Vikings: Play the Rams in Los Angeles on Thursday night.
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