NFL takeaways: We saw why Josh Allen’s superior to Lamar Jackson

Bills-Ravens came down to a head-to-head QB duel, and Buffalo’s Josh Allen did what Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson couldn’t

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In all that rain, Josh Allen vs. Lamar Jackson probably never was going to be a classic quarterback battle. The game though, in which Buffalo beat Baltimore 23-20, did come down to a head-to-head opportunity of sorts for each.

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And it magnified the key difference between these two elite quarterbacks.

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With the score tied 20-20 early in the fourth quarter, each side — as it turned out — got only one more possession.

Jackson and the Ravens had the first turn and possessed the ball for more than nine minutes, from 13:38 left til 4:09, marching nearly the length of the field, down to the Bills’ one-yard line.

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To get there, Jackson completed all four passes but for just 21 yards. He ran four times for more yards, 29.

Then the Ravens got stoned, as so often happens to teams led by quarterbacks that rely a little too much on their running ability.

A halfback run lost three yards. On third-and-goal from the four, Jackson ran up the middle for two. And on fourth-and-goal from the two, rather than have Justin Tucker kick a nearly certain field goal to go up 23-20, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh elected to go for it.

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But Jackson’s desperation pass into the end zone was intercepted by Bills safety Jordan Poyer, his second of the quarter.

Harbaugh explained afterward that his thinking was if they didn’t make it, the Bills would take over at, or about, their two. Jackson’s ill-advised pick, though, made it a touchback with Buffalo beginning its drive at its 20.

Three snaps later, Allen showed particularly why he’s a more lethal quarterback, currently, than Jackson.

On third-and-two from the Buffalo 28, Allen threw a bold, laser of a pass to his tight end Dawson Knox up toward the far right sideline and he caught the pass for a 20-yard gain, with 2:53 left.

It was a top-shelf throw that perhaps only a handful of NFL QBs would even have attempted, let alone had both the accuracy and arm strength to get it to Knox over two fast-closing Baltimore defensive backs.

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Allen completions of nine and 16 yards, plus an Allen scramble for seven, a roughing-the-passer penalty on Baltimore, advanced the Bills to the Baltimore 11, with 1:50 left.

The Ravens appeared to try to let the Bills score a touchdown, so they could get the ball back, but the Bills wisely refused to try to, electing instead to run the clock down inside the five-yard line before attempting a game-ending chip-shot field goal — which Tyler Bass made from 21 yards out.

Granted, Jackson does not have probably even a top-25 wideout corps. That hamstrings him as a passer, no doubt.

But Jackson’s inability to reliably move his team just with his arm, in the crunch, remains a work in progress. Especially on third downs.

The Ravens converted four of their first five third downs of the game — great. But only two of their last eight.

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Jackson no doubt is a far better and confident passer than he was earlier in his career, but what he did on third downs after Baltimore took a 20-3 lead midway through the second quarter must still vex and annoy Ravens coaches and fans. On six subsequent third-down attempts until game’s end, Jackson:

— Threw three passes, completing only one, a shorty that gained a first down on a completion of nine yards, with eight yards to go;

— Ran three times, only once picking up a first down, on a drop-back and random scramble that somehow gained 18 yards only thanks to his stunning running talents, with 12 yards to go.

Look, one third-down pass completion for nine yards over the last two-and-a-half quarters of any game is rarely going to lead a quarterback’s team to victory.

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Hence, performances such as Sunday’s make it difficult — really difficult — to place the same level of confidence in Jackson as an aerial wizard in the class of Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Matt Stafford and Joe Burrow.

Oh, and Allen … Allen perhaps most of all.

Jackson and Allen probably are the most dangerous quarterback runners in the league; Jalen Hurts and Kyler Murray are a narrow tier below them.

Thing is, Jackson runs as his co-main weapon, along with his arm, whereas Allen runs only to augment his now dazzling passing abilities.

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A replay showed Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur exhaling in obvious relief after Mason Crosby booted a 31-yard field goal late in overtime to lift his Packers, 27-24, over the surprisingly plucky, competitive New England Patriots.

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The Pats refused to believe they didn’t have a chance at historic Lambeau Field without their starting quarterback, Mac Jones, sidelined by an ankle injury.

Not even when they lost Jones’ top backup, vet Brian Hoyer, on their second drive with a suspected concussion did the Patriots fold.

Rookie third-stringer Bailey Zappe — a fourth-round pick, drafted 137th overall last April out of Western Kentucky — got thrown into the fray for his first regular-season pro snaps.

Danged if the kid didn’t play well. Composed and effective.

At Lambeau Field? In his NFL debut? Wow.

New England took a lead in each of the first four quarters, answering every Packers scoring drive until late with one of their own.

Sure, a pick-six thrown by Green Bay’s iconic QB Rodgers just before halftime helped New England’s cause big-time.

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But the kid didn’t get intercepted. He completed 10-of-15 (67%) for 99 yards and a go-ahead touchdown late in the third quarter.

Zappe just couldn’t do anything on the Patriots’ one overtime possession. He was rushed on his one pass attempt and threw incomplete.

Rodgers ably led the Packers on their winning score, completing all four passes for 50 yards: Clinical.

His 13-yard scoring throw to receiver Romeo Doubs in the fourth quarter was the 500th touchdown pass of the 38-year-old’s career.


When Jacksonville jumped out to a 14-0 lead at Philadelphia by the end of the first quarter, they’d just outscored the Eagles, Chargers and Colts over their previous nine quarters of play by 76-10.

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The Jaguars’ run of dominance ended there. Philly outscored Jacksonville thereafter 29-7 to improve to 4-0 and remain the NFL’s last undefeated team.

While Hurts was good, not great, at the helm of the Eagles attack, Miles Sanders ran for 134 yards and two scores, while Philly’s defence bottled up the Jags’ potent rushing attack and sacked Trevor Lawrence four times, picked him off once and forced four fumbles from him.

Philly hadn’t had five takeaways in a game since their Super Bowl-winning 2017 season.


Quarterbacks didn’t do much impressing in Pittsburgh, throwing six interceptions.

But New York Jets second-year Zach Wilson, in his 2022 debut, did what was needed down the stretch to rally his team to its second last-minute win in three weeks, this time 24-20 over the Steelers.

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New York improved to 2-2 and for first time perhaps in eons, find themselves ahead of the basement-dwelling 1-3 Patriots in the AFC East.

Wilson completed only 50% of his 36 throws, but drove the Jets 65 yards in 10 plays for the win, a two-yard run by rookie running back Breece Hall.

As for the Steelers, who lost their third straight, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky once again was meh. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin benched him after halftime, inserting rookie Kenny Pickett.

Pickett completed 10-of-13 for 120 yards, but his risky throw that was intercepted set up New York’s winning drive. Pickett was picked thrice.

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Give the Tennessee Titans credit: After an ugly 0-2 start they’ve won their past two to improve to 2-2 and are now tied with Jacksonville atop the AFC South.

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Derrick Henry ripped off big chunks early in the Titans’ 24-17 win at arch-rival Indianapolis. That, as always, allowed Ryan Tannehill to shine, which he did, completing all but four of his 21 passes for only 137 yards, but two went for key early touchdowns.

The Colts (1-2-1) have won only once because they’ve been able to overcome multi-score deficits in all four games only once — which is about all you’d expect. They keep falling behind early, in every game, because the defence is terrible early in every game, and the offence nearly impotent.

Indy has trailed at halftime of every game (by seven, 17, four and 14 points) and after three quarters of every game (by 17, 24, four and seven points).

That was not the recipe anyone envisioned when the Colts traded for long-tooth quarterback Matt Ryan in March. A dominant run game and a feisty defence were supposed to help him big-time.

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Not even close. It’s like he’s playing for a bad Atlanta team still. And that’s a shame.

“We need to play better,” Colts head coach Frank Reich said, “we need to execute better, we need to stop turning the ball over, we need to start getting turnovers, we need to run the football a little bit better, and start faster.”

That’s all.


How bad is the Detroit Lions’ defence? Worst in the league and it isn’t even close.

Well, maybe it is. The Seattle Seahawks might have the next worst.

The Seahawks, who had averaged just 15.7 points per game coming into the Motor City, rolled up 555 yards of offence and outscored the Lions, 48-45. Detroit was playing without its No. 1 wide receiver (Amon-Ra St. Brown) and No. 1 running back (D’Andre Smith).

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Nearly all the way through, the Lions kept falling behind by two scores, but kept pulling to within one TD — only for their gawdawful defence, coordinated (ha, good one) by Aaron Glenn, to lamely allow quarterback Geno Smith and the Seattle running backs to easily score again to go back up by two.

Smith completed 77% of 30 throws for 320 yards, two TDs and no picks — while Smith and running backs Rashaad Penny and Kenneth Walker rolled up 235 yards on the ground. Seattle converted a ridiculous 9-of-12 (75%) third downs.

The Lions, behind another game passing performance from Jared Goff, are now far and away lead the NFL in scoring with 140 points. Too bad they far and away lead the league in most points allowed with 141 — 35.25 per game.

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Afterward, an especially annoyed Lions head coach Dan Campbell said, defensively, it’s back to the drawing board:

“From the scheme to personnel. We’ll find the best fit, whatever we feels give us the best chance — and our best chance in 3-4 weeks, too, and if that’s a younger player it’s a young player.

“We’re going to look at everything. We’re going to look at it all, top to bottom … We lack confidence. That’s very clear to me. That’s one element to it. We lack a lot of confidence … We’re still making it errors. That falls into our boat as coaches. That’s on us.”

Asked if “everything” includes possible defensive staff changes, Campbell said, perhaps ominously:

“I’m going to look at everything.”

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In the first of three International Series games to be played in London, the Minnesota Vikings escaped with a 28-25 win over New Orleans, thanks to a double-doink.

That is, when Saints placekick Wil Lutz — who minutes earlier had made a 60-yard field by a couple of yards — missed a 61-yarder at 0:00 when the ball glanced off the left upright, deflected down, hit the crossbar, then bounced up but backward and to the ground.

No good.

QB-wise, Kirk Cousins Cousinsed for the Vikes (66% completions, 273 yards and a touchdown spread around a few enraging WTF-was-he-thinking misfires) while New Orleans backup Andy Dalton Daltoned (a high completion percentage, 71%, a few great throws but disappointingly low scoring production).

Minnesota and its first-year head coach Kevin O’Connell improved to 3-1, while New Orleans and its first-year head coach Dennis Allen dropped to 1-3.

Check out our sports section for the latest news and analysis. Care for a wager? Head to our sports betting section for news and odds.

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