Josh Allen and the Bills’ offense find a spark under interim coordinator Joe Brady

NFL

“I think more than anything, the intangibles of the offense started to show up in the second half — the effort, the unselfish play.”

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Khalil Shakir (10) celebrates after his touchdown with Trent Sherfield. Jeffrey T. Barnes/AP Photo

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Josh Allen kept reminding everyone the Buffalo Bills’ offense wasn’t broken.

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It took a drastic move by coach Sean McDermott, who fired coordinator Ken Dorsey last week, and one dynamic play by Allen on Sunday for the quarterback to prove he wasn’t kidding.

Lining up with an empty backfield, Allen recognized the New York Jets’ defensive formation — “We call it ‘66 Buzz,’ he said — and knew immediately what to do.

After scanning to his left to see Stefon Diggs covered, then over the middle, where Dalton Kincaid drew a safety’s attention, Allen zipped a pass up the right seam to hit Khalil Shakir in stride at the Buffalo 42 for an 81-yard touchdown.

The reception stands as the NFL’s longest-scoring play of the season and put away a 32-6 win on Sunday. Identifying the “66 Buzz” formation brought the buzz back to the Bills’ offense.

“Well, it was a step,” McDermott said Monday. “I think more than anything, the intangibles of the offense started to show up in the second half — the effort, the unselfish play.”

For one game, the indecisiveness Allen showed on the field and his frustrations off it were gone. So were the stagnation and predictability the offense had displayed as Buffalo dropped four of its previous six games.

At 6-5, the challenge has only begun for the three-time defending AFC East champion Bills if they want to climb back into contention. They are about to enter the toughest part of their schedule, and they have just two home games left.

This weekend, Buffalo travels to play NFC East-leading Philadelphia. Following a bye week, the Bills play at AFC West-leading Kansas City before hosting Dallas.

And with Buffalo’s defense depleted by injuries, Allen and interim coordinator Joe Brady will feel pressure to build on their promising start.

Against the Jets, the pair incorporated new — or perhaps forgotten — dimensions to an attack that was not solely reliant on Allen’s top target, Diggs. The Bills won despite Diggs dropping several passes and finishing with four catches for 27 yards — the third-lowest total of his three-plus seasons in Buffalo.

What shined through was Allen’s ability to find open receivers on each of his three touchdown passes, and Brady’s ability to consistently incorporate the run, especially in the first half.

Buffalo had a season-most 18 rushes in the first half and finished with 38. That’s the most since having 40 in a 29-15 win over Atlanta on Jan. 2, 2022, when Brian Daboll was still the Bills’ coordinator.

Brady made no promises on what he’ll do next, noting his game plan is opponent specific. But in his first outing, he injected creativity into an offense that was too often static in its formations and approach.

Allen bought in, whether it was a result of his competitive drive or feelings of regret after acknowledging he deserved blame for Dorsey’s ouster.

The performance was validating.

“This is huge for us,” left tackle Dion Dawkins said. “It just gives us the positive mindset of what we can do at any point that we choose to.”

What’s working

Complementary football. The offense’s ability to build and expand on its lead took the pressure off a banged-up defense by forcing the Jets to become one dimensional. The defense responded with six sacks and two interceptions, Buffalo’s first picks in seven games.

What needs help

Special teams. Last week, the Bills were flagged for too many men, allowing Denver’s Wil Lutz a second chance to hit a game-winning field goal as time expired. Against New York, the Bills were fooled by a fake punt. Punter Thomas Morstead converted a fourth-and-2 from his own 24 by completing an 18-yard pass to Brandin Echols, and extending a drive that ended with New York scoring a TD to cut Buffalo’s lead to 16-6 to close the first half.

Stock up

CB Rasul Douglas. Playing his third game since being acquired in a trade with Green Bay, Douglas had two interceptions and recovered a fumble.

Stock down

WR Gabe Davis. The fourth-year player wasn’t even targeted.

Injuries

S Taylor Rapp has a chance to play this week despite sustaining a neck injury that required him to be loaded into an ambulance. … CBs Taron Johnson and Dane Jackson are both in the concussion protocol. … Safeties Micah Hyde (stinger) and Cam Lewis (shoulder) are listed day to day.

Key number

0-11 — The Jets’ performance on third down, marking the first time Buffalo has blanked an opponent since Indianapolis went 0 of 10 on Dec. 13, 1987.

Next steps

It’s a homecoming for McDermott, who grew up in Philadelphia and broke into the NFL as an Eagles assistant under Andy Reid. Eagles coach Nick Sirianni was a Bills fan growing up in Jamestown, New York, which is a 90-minute drive south of Buffalo.


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