Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen will, at some point, likely come to the realization that he will never catch Cincinnati Bengals star Joe Burrow in the area that all quarterbacks are judged the most: Playoff success.
Burrow is heading back to Arrowhead Stadium for an AFC Championship Game rematch with the Kansas City Chiefs. Allen is headed back to … wherever he spends his winters getting over playoff heartbreak.
And after Sunday’s 27-10 beatdown at the hands of the Bengals, Allen can be forgiven if he needs more than a few days to get right.
Joe Burrow and Bengals Stomp Josh Allen, Bills
“Domination from start to finish,” Burrow told CBS’s Tracy Wolfson moments after Sunday’s one-sided affair ended. “That’s what we expected. Job’s not finished. We’ve got another big one next week, on the road. Excited.”
The Bills, meanwhile, are done until September.
Buffalo has a long, painful playoff history. Allen has only been part of it for the last four years. But during that time, the Bills have lost in the Wild Card round once, the Divisional Round twice, and in the AFC Championship Game once.
The Bills’ Super Bowl appearance drought is now 29 years. The Bills’ Super Bowl championship drought stands at 57.
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But this was supposed to be Buffalo’s year — particularly with a home game in a snow globe in front of a raucous crowd that included miracle man Damar Hamlin.
Instead, it’s fair to start wondering if this particular nucleus — with Sean McDermott at coach and Allen at quarterback — can ever get it done.
The only thing more surprising than the high-flying Bills managing 10 points is that they had those issues scoring without a single Allen turnover until the game was well out of reach.
Josh Allen vs. Joe Burrow Stats
But that doesn’t mean Allen was sharp Sunday. He was not.
Sixteen of Allen’s 41 attempts fell incomplete. The Bills were 5 of 12 on third downs — which is usually a reflection of a quarterback’s play.
And some real talk here: If the Miami Dolphins had started even their second-string quarterback instead of their third-string QB last week, the Bills probably wouldn’t have even gotten this far.
In the 2022 postseason, Allen completed just 59.3% of his passes, turned the ball over four times, and averaged 7.6 yards per attempt. His playoff passer rating? Eighty.
Compare that to Burrow, who’s emerged as one of the two or three most clutch players in the league (if not No. 1 overall). Burrow’s line: 67.6%-0-6.6-100.8.
Burrow now has five playoff wins in two postseason appearances. Allen, meanwhile, fell to 4-4 as a playoff starter. Wins, of course, are a team stat, not an individual stat. But they do add context to what our eyes and box scores tell us.
Allen is a better natural talent.
Burrow is a better player when the lights are the brightest.
Zac Taylor Is Sean McDermott’s Daddy
But as Burrow was the first to acknowledge, it wasn’t a one-man show.
“Complete game from everybody,” he told CBS.
That includes an offensive line that allowed one sack and totaled 172 rushing yards despite Jackson Carman making his first start at left tackle, backups starting at both positions on the right, and Ted Karras limping around on one leg. The Bengals owned the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
And speaking of footballs, Bengals coach Zac Taylor will surely gift a few more to Cincinnati water holes after his fifth playoff win in six games as a head coach.
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It’s time for Taylor to get his due. The job he did in 2021 was criminally underrated. And if he goes to Buffalo and Kansas City in consecutive weeks and wins them both, Taylor should be considered one of the world’s best coaches.
McDermott, meanwhile, might not even be the second-best coach in his own division. He’s racked up a ton of regular-season wins with a mutant at quarterback. But in the playoffs, the Bills keep falling flat, particularly on defense.
The Bills had the best possible draw, considering Patrick Mahomes’ injury.
Yet, they blew it. Again.
And they will have to live in that reality for the next eight months — and likely beyond.