Josh Allen's potential MVP season started with a dud.
The quarterback struggled in every aspect in the 23-16 loss to the Steelers, dominated by the Pittsburgh defense.
"It's not what we hope for, what we strive for, how we want to start the season," Allen said, via the Buffalo News. "That's why we're playing 17. You know, we're not expecting to win them all. We go into each game expecting to win, but we understand that it's a long season. A lot to learn from this tape, honestly starting with me."
After major improvements in 2020, this was closer to the Allen we saw during his first two seasons. The accuracy was all over the place. He still can't find the deep range, and his pocket presence was shaky after getting hit early.
Allen missed receiver Emmanuel Sanders deep in the first quarter, which could have changed the entire complexion of the game.
"That's one I need back," Allen said. "A defense like this gives you that type of opportunity, you've got to execute and make those plays happen. You know, I didn't. We didn't."
It wasn't just the deep misses that were a concern -- even at his height last season, the downfield accuracy was a challenge for the big-armed QB -- it was the short-range accuracy that Sunday he couldn't find. Last season, Allen improved in that area to such a degree, it was seemingly a given that he'd continue to progress. Instead, for just one week at least, Allen was back on the struggle bus.
The fourth-year QB missed behind several receivers on plays where he seemed just a hair late to pull the trigger. A third-down throw into the feet of Cole Beasley underscored the accuracy issues for Allen.
"There's some plays he wants back, I know that just talking with him a little bit during the game," coach Sean McDermott said. "That's what we all have to do. We all have to do our part. It can't just be Josh, it's a team game here."
The offensive line struggled to block a Pittsburgh pass rush that came in waves, and the run game was nonexistent as Allen attempted a career-high 51 passes (completing 30 for 270 yards and a TD). With a passer rating of 79.1, Allen's last two games with a rating of under 80 both came against the Steelers D (77.5 in Week 14, 2020).
The Bills were a favorite to contend in the AFC. One game shouldn't change that in totality, but Buffalo needs Allen to play like a potential MVP to compete with the conference contenders in the final 16 games.
"I wish we could have put on a better show for the fans and obviously that's not how they wanted it, nor us," Allen said. "Hopefully that next game, we'll be able to go out there and give them something they like."