The Kyle Allen experience went like this on Sunday: He rebounded from costly mistakes; made perfect throws on two touchdown passes and drove the Washington Football Team into position to beat the New York Giants. It also went like this: Allen turned the ball over twice, including a fumble that was returned for the winning score late in the fourth quarter.
It ended in a 20-19 loss for Washington.
The team turned toward Allen to provide a boost entering an easier portion of its schedule, hoping his experience running this offense would result in more wins. Instead, Washington has lost his two starts, though the first one came against the Los Angeles Rams (4-2). Sunday, Washington was a successful two-point conversion away from its second win of the season.
After the game, coach Ron Rivera said Allen would continue as the starter. He completed 31-of-42 passes for 280 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also had a total QBR of 71.0, 12th best in the NFL Sunday -- and the highest by far for a Washington quarterback this season.
"He did what we needed him to do," Rivera said. "He moved the ball when we had to, he put us in the end zone when he had to have it. He did a lot of positive things."
But those turnovers, including a first-quarter interception, led to 14 points for New York.
"Kyle's day was good with the exception of the two takeaways," Rivera said. "He's got to do a little better with the ball. ... But he had a very productive day."
With five straight losses, the issue for Washington isn't really Allen, it's outside perception.
The team traded a fifth-round pick for Allen because the coaching staff knew him well, Allen knew their offense and he could be a good safety net if then-starter Dwayne Haskins Jr. didn't develop. And when they didn't see what they wanted from Haskins -- on the field or with his weekly preparation -- they turned to Allen.
But benching Haskins after four games left Washington with a starting quarterback perceived as a backup and the franchise seemingly headed for another offseason search to solve this position. In the eyes of the fans, they're not winning now with Allen and they're not developing a quarterback for the future.
The sobering reality is Haskins, the No. 3 quarterback for the second consecutive week, isn't viewed as that guy right now and his future likely will be elsewhere. It's also true that Allen has started 15 games in two-plus NFL seasons -- only four more than Haskins. Like Haskins, Allen is a young quarterback -- he just happened to enter the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2018. Haskins was the No. 15 overall pick in 2019 and is viewed as having a higher ceiling, but Allen also is developing.
Allen offers mobility and the ability to extend plays. He responded well after turning the ball over. After forcing a pass that was intercepted in the first half, on Allen's next two drives he completed 13-of-15 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown. The other drive resulted in a field goal. And, after his fumble, he led Washington on a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive capped by a 22-yard scoring pass to receiver Cam Sims in the corner of the end zone with 36 seconds left.
"He's able to bounce back," said tight end Logan Thomas, who caught Allen's first touchdown pass, a five-yard toss also in the corner. "Sometimes in football things don't go your way, it's about how you respond."
Allen extended a fourth-and-4 play just before halftime by running to his right; he also could have avoided the need to do so by connecting in rhythm with receiver Terry McLaurin, running wide open at the first-down line on a shallow crosser.
Allen also scrambled for a first down on a third-and-6, lunging forward with the ball as he spun while being tackled. A week ago, Allen was knocked from the game after a third-and-1 scramble -- a play offensive coordinator Scott Turner later termed "boneheaded." The coaches want him to smart so he can stay on the field; Allen, though, knows it's a key element to his game.
"It comes naturally to me," Allen said. "It's a part of my game I've tried to implement as much as I can over the last couple of years. In this day and age, defenses are getting better, DBs are getting better and they're playing a lot of man coverage. You've got to be able to get out of there and run a little bit. I think that's part of the game that a lot of young QBs have, and it's part of mine, too."
The turnovers have been as well. He's thrown 17 interceptions in his past 14 starts and now has fumbled 14 times. He's lost eight, but in the past 13 games he's only lost four.
"You want him to get rid of the ball, but at the same time you want to protect the ball," Rivera said. "That's what he has to understand. He's done this in the past, where he's fumbled it a couple times. ... It hurts because it led to points."
Allen showed what he could do Sunday, but unless that starts resulting in wins, Washington will be left with grim outlook: A season with too many losses and no quarterback of the future.