'Sneaky-fast' Josh Allen suddenly among NFL's best QB rushers

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- When the Buffalo Bills were scouting Josh Allen before making him the No. 7 overall pick in April's draft, one of the games that stood out to general manager Brandon Beane was a 16-13 win over Colorado State last season in which Allen led Wyoming in both passing yards (138) and rushing yards (60).

"There were game where his stats were bad," Beane said in June, referring to Allen's completing only 10 of 20 passes in that Nov. 4, 2017 game. "But if you watch that game, they’re not winning that game without Josh Allen. He was running the ball. He was their leading rusher and, obviously, their leading passer [because of] all the things that he brings beyond just standing back and throwing the ball."

The Bills dropped to 4-8 with a 21-17 loss Sunday to the Miami Dolphins. Buffalo fell inches short of their third straight win, if tight end Charles Clay could have caught up to a wobbling fourth-down throw from Allen for what likely would have been the game-winning touchdown in the final minute. But for the second consecutive week since returning from an elbow injury, Allen led the Bills in rushing and showcased the mobility skills that helped attract Beane to the polarizing Mountain West prospect.

Allen rushed nine times for 135 yards, the most rushing yards gained by any NFL quarterback since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick scampered for 151 yards in 2014. Seven of Allen's carries and 126 of his yards came on scrambles on designed passing plays, including a third-quarter gain of 28 yards and back-to-back fourth-quarter runs of 25 and 26 yards.

It was an encore performance to a 24-21 win last week over the Jacksonville Jaguars in which Allen ran 13 times for 99 yards. Allen's 45-yard scramble in the fourth quarter helped seal that victory and set a franchise record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a game. He broke his own record Sunday.

Allen's 234 rushing yards in the past two games were the most by any NFL quarterback since Green Bay's Tobin Rote had 281 in consecutive games in November 1951, according to the Elias Sports Bureau data.

"You got to put him in that category as a runner," Bills running back LeSean McCoy said. "Big white boy, stiff -- you don't think he can move like that. But now, I'm sure he'll get that attention [from opponents]. [They'll say,] 'OK, he can run. Let's send different blitzes, let's slow how they pressure, let's kind of squeeze the pocket instead of having a wide rush.' I'm sure they'll change it up. It might not be next game, but I think once they see more tape and see how elusive he is. Because he's sneaky-fast. He'll get going."

One pre-draft scouting report mentioned Allen's willingness to "pull it up and move the chains with his legs," but Allen seems to have caught defenses off-guard with both his propensity to run and his ability while running. The latter was on display when Allen made a double move to elude Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso on an 11-yard jaunt for a first down in the second quarter.

Allen is averaging 7.13 rushes per game, the second-highest rate by any quarterback this season behind Cam Newton (7.58). The only quarterbacks who have averaged more carries per game than Allen in a single season since 2001 have been Newton, Tim Tebow, Michael Vick, Robert Griffin III, Josh Freeman, Tyrod Taylor and Russell Wilson.

Allen leads NFL quarterbacks in averaging 48.6 rushing yards this season. Only three quarterbacks since 2001 -- Vick, Wilson and Griffin -- have averaged more rushing yards per game in a season.

Defenses might adjust as Allen proves himself as one of the league's most capable running quarterbacks, but his noted arm strength could make that difficult.

"He’s a big guy that can run," Dolphins coach Adam Gase said. "If somebody shakes free down the field, he can throw it a long way. He causes a lot of problem in that area. You’ve got to stay in your coverage when he starts scrambling around. That’s why it’s hard for guys to just take off and start chasing him, because they know if they leave their guy and he sees them, it’s going to be a touchdown."

Allen, 22, has proven fearless when running -- for better or worse. While he avoided taking big hits as a ball carrier Sunday, he took multiple blows to his lower body against the Jaguars that worried his teammates.

"I'm happy today that he slid [against the Dolphins]," McCoy said. I had a whole fight with him. [I said] 'Yo, listen, slide!' You're the franchise quarterback. Stop trying to run and spin around and stiff-arm."

Coaches, including offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, have preached to Allen the importance of making smart decisions after tucking the ball and taking off. Bills coach Sean McDermott welcomed Allen's scrambles when the Dolphins' defense allowed him to do so.

"The guy's a competitor, man," McDermott said. "He's a competitive sucker, and I'll take him on my team any day. That was a great performance."

Allen was intercepted twice Sunday, including once on a last-second heave at the end of the first half. The two turnovers and a 54 percent completion rate (18-of-33 passing) reduced Allen's passer rating to 71.7, tied for his third-best rating in eight games this season.

Despite the loss, Allen's performance was enough to encourage his teammates and impress defenders on an AFC East foe.

"He’s got a little Ben Roethlisberger to him," Dolphins safety Reshad Jones said. "He’s got a similar game, a big guy. He can run. Probably one of the strongest arms in the NFL. I think that guy is going to be good."