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Rookie QB Josh Allen leads Bills past slumping Jaguars

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The Sports Xchange
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) scrambles against the Baltimore Ravens in the third quarter on September 9, 2018 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) scrambles against the Baltimore Ravens in the third quarter on September 9, 2018 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Josh Allen didn't answer every question with his performance Sunday. The Buffalo Bills rookie still looks like a flawed, young quarterback trying to find his way in the NFL, but he's also showing signs of progress.

Allen had no ill effects of an injured passing arm that sidelined him for more than a month, reaffirmed he can still inflict damage with his legs and helped the Bills to a 24-21 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in an unsightly game for both teams at New Era Field.

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Allen uncorked his rocket arm with a 75-yard touchdown pass to Robert Foster in the first quarter, and he gave Buffalo the lead for good after scooting 14 yards for another touchdown in the fourth. The Bills (4-7) earned their second straight victory and handed the Jags (3-8) their seventh straight loss.

Leonard Fournette scored on two short touchdown runs before he and Buffalo end Shaq Lawson were ejected after exchanging punches in the third quarter. Their dustup came after Donte Moncrief caught a pass near the goal line and wrestled with Levi Wallace over possession.

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The game was decided by Allen, who gained 99 yards on 13 carries and broke the franchise record for most rushing yards in a game by a quarterback. He also completed 8-of-19 passes for 160 yards and the touchdown pass to Foster.

Allen gave the Bills a 21-14 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter when he broke through the middle of the defense for his third rushing touchdown of the season. It came after a strange series of events after Jacksonville threatened to take the lead.

Jacksonville had an apparent touchdown called back upon review and failed to score from the 1-yard line. The Jags ended up moving backward before Josh Lambo pulled a 42-yard field goal attempt. It was an unsightly sequence in an ugly game.

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Receiver Isaiah McKenzie also scored a touchdown for the Bills in the first quarter. McKenzie found the end zone on an end-around while Allen found Foster with his longest touchdown pass of the year to give Buffalo a 14-0 lead.

Blake Bortles had a rough afternoon against the Bills' defense. He completed 12-of-27 passes, one touchdown and two interceptions. He found Dede Westbrook for a short score with 1:20 remaining in the fourth quarter.

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Buffalo and Jacksonville played like two teams with 3-7 records going into the game. Both offenses struggled to move the ball in a game littered with sloppy plays, mistakes and penalties. The outcome wasn't decided by the better team so much as which was less terrible.

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For the Bills, it mattered little.

Allen's development this season was among their top priorities after they selected him seventh overall in the draft. His progress was stunted first by getting rushed into the lineup when Nathan Peterman struggled in the opener and again when he suffered a sprained elbow.

The rookie's return, and whether he learned anything from more than a month on the sidelines, was a key storyline going into the game. Allen had become more comfortable with the offense and the speed of the NFL before he was injured but still had a long road ahead.

Any questions about whether he was physically capable were answered on his 75-yard pass to Foster in the first quarter to give the Bills a 14-0 lead. Allen was under heavy pressure but stepped into the pocket and rifled a perfect throw to Foster down the field.

Allen merely needed to look the part to show improvement. He often looked uncomfortable in the passing game but showed a penchant for running away from pressure rather than stepping into the pocket and throwing with conviction.

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The Bills were coming off their best performance of the season, a 41-10 blowout over the Jets in which they started journeyman Matt Barkley over Peterman at quarterback. Allen was immediately inserted into the lineup once he was healthy.

Jacksonville, which was a popular choice to win the Super Bowl this season, had been drowning in losses and gasping for playoff survival and now has dropped seven straight. Losing to the Bills certainly will crank up pressure that had been building on head coach Doug Marrone.

But the Jaguars had some fight. Fournette banged his way for a 5-yard touchdown and Jacksonville trailed by a 14-7 deficit.

Jacksonville stormed back on its next possession. Westbrook ran off tackle and raced 43 yards down the sideline, Fournette picked up 21 yards on his next two carries and finished the drive with a 1-yard plunge to tie the game at 14-14.

Allen showed he could still be effective with his feet. He wasted little time taking off. He gained 45 yards on one play, and he gave Buffalo the lead for good when he saw daylight between him and the end zone early in the fourth.

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