ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP)Josh Allen had the Buffalo Bills’ up-tempo passing attack humming so efficiently in his preseason debut receiver Emmanuel Sanders wondered when his turn would come to make a play.
The veteran offseason free-agent addition was fifth in line as part of an opening drive in which Allen completed 10 of his first 11 attempts, including a touchdown, in a 19-0 win over the Green Bay Packers in both teams’ preseason finales Saturday.
”It was like bing, bing, bing, bing and I was like, `When is it my turn?’ And the next thing you know, it was my turn and I caught it,” said Sanders of his 6-yard catch for a first down that got the Bills across midfield.
”Man, it was fun. Practices don’t do it justice,” said Sanders, who’s caught passes from the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees over his previous 11 seasons. ”Like, we were supposed to play a half, but I looked at Stef (receiver Stefon Diggs) and said, `I don’t want to come out.`”
Allen needed just three possessions to finish 20 of 26 for 194 yards and two touchdowns to show he and the Bills high-powered offense are ready for the regular season.
”Yeah, it felt good,” said Allen, who set numerous single-season scoring and passing records last year in helping the Bills win their first AFC East title since 1995. ”It’s preseason so we’re not gonna overreact to anything. But we went out there, we executed like we should have, and at the end of the day that’s all you can ask for.”
Buffalo finished 3-0, extending its preseason winning streak to eight games, dating to a 26-13 loss to Cincinnati on Aug. 26, 2018.
Green Bay can now look forward to Aaron Rodgers providing stability to a mistake-filled offense which lacked finish behind a cast of backups, led by Jordan Love. The Packers finished 0-3, closing a preseason in which a majority of their starters didn’t play.
Love played into the third quarter and finished 12 of 18 for 149 yards and an interception. He returned to action after missing last weekend with what he revealed to be a strained right rotator cuff. A myriad of mistakes led to the Packers coming up empty, with their first three possessions stalling inside Buffalo’s 21.
”We just didn’t finish when we needed to. And that’s why that score can get a little out of hand, or lopsided,” coach Matt LaFleur said.
Love was just off-target bouncing a pass off Reggie Begelton’s fingertips on fourth-and-goal from the 1 to end Green Bay’s first drive. Next, on first-and-10 from Buffalo’s 21, Love was under pressure and threw off his back foot to have his weak pass easily intercepted in the end zone by Micah Hyde.
”It’s one I’ve got to obviously learn from and dump that to the sideline, and play the next play,” Love said of his interception.
The Packers’ third and final possession of the first half ended with Mason Crosby missing a 28-yard field-goal attempt wide left.
Complicating matters were a pair of bad snaps from backup center Jake Hanson.
Allen, meantime, displayed the polish and poise that led to the fourth-year starter being rewarded with a six-year, $258 million contract extension three weeks ago.
He capped Buffalo’s opening drive with a perfect throw in hitting Gabriel Davis in stride – a step ahead of cornerback Isaac Yiadom – on a post route for a 31-yard touchdown on third-and-20. Allen then squeezed a tight 3-yard pass over the middle to Zack Mossto put the Bills up 13-0 on his third and final possession.
Allen spread the ball in completing passes to eight receivers, while playing without his favorite target, Diggs, who sat out because of a lingering knee injury.
He also displayed his familiar dual-threat ability by scrambling to his left and throwing a pass across his body to a wide-open Cole Beasley for a 21-yard gain to set up Moss’ TD.
”It’s not a surprise,” Moss said of Allen’s completion to Beasley. ”We all know what he can do with his arm. … Super excited to see where he leads this team throughout the year.”
SPECIAL TEAMS CHANGES
Crosby got off a 41-yard punt while filling in after JK Scott developed cramps in the second half. ”Mason is a reliable vet and did a nice job when he went in there, but he is not our punter,” LaFleur said.
Bills second-year defensive end A.J. Epenesa took over the long-snapping duties with Reid Ferguson (back) sidelined.
Receiver Isaiah McKenzie revealed on social media he has received his COVID-19 vaccination, posting a picture of his CDC card on Saturday. He included the message ”For the greater good,” followed by a thumbs-up emoji.
His decision came two days after he and Beasley revealed being fined by the NFL for failing to wear a mask inside the team facility. McKenzie did not play due to a left shoulder injury.
Beasley, Davis and defensive tackles Star Lotulelei and Vernon Butler were all activated on Friday and played against the Packers after spending time in the NFL’s five-day cadence.
PACKERS: open season at the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 12.
BILLS: open season hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 12.
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