Josh Allen’s homecoming couldn’t have been sweeter.
The Buffalo Bills quarterback played in his home state of California for the first time in his NFL career, leading his team to a decisive 31-10 win over the Los Angeles Rams in Thursday’s season opener. Allen had a large contingent of friends and family on hand, and got to share an emotional moment with his parents after the win.
Allen Leads Bills to Win in His Home State
The last time Allen played football in his native California, he was a little-known junior college quarterback well below the radar of Division I colleges and invisible to NFL scouts. After growing up in the small northern California town of Firebaugh, Allen didn’t get any Division I offers and went to play at JUCO Reedley College. As the story famously goes, Allen sent an email to more than 1,000 colleges trying to sell himself but got just one offer, from Wyoming.
After skyrocketing to a top NFL prospect and growing into an MVP candidate with the Bills, Allen finally got the chance to return to California.
“It’s kind of the perfect Hollywood story,” NFL Network’s Cynthia Frelund told the Bills’ official website before Thursday’s game. “You come in and you’re kind of overlooked, you’re in this small town growing up and then you come to this big city with a brand new stadium.”
Allen wrote the perfect Hollywood ending to his homecoming, throwing three touchdown passes and running for another in Buffalo’s blowout win. He set a franchise record for completion percentage in a regular-season game, going 26-of-33 for 297 yards while adding a game-high 57 rushing yards.
Though the Bills squandered chances to build a lead in the first half — turning the ball over three times and allowing the Rams to erase a 10-0 deficit — Allen said he never lost faith in his team.
“I was actually happy at halftime,” Allen said, via the Los Angeles Times. “Three turnovers and going in 10-10 — zero to zero —that gave us all the confidence in the world, our defense being able to back us up. We hurt ourselves a lot in that first half. There’s a lot to learn from. But that second half, that’s who we want to be, going out there and executing the way we expect to execute.”
Allen Shares Love With Family
Allen had plenty of support in his return to California, with a large group of family watching along with his girlfriend, Brittany Williams. After the game, the Bills quarterback came over to share a hug with his father, who appeared overcome with emotion.
Allen nearly had a homecoming two seasons ago, one that would have been much closer to his hometown of Firebaugh. The Bills were slated to play against the San Francisco 49ers in 2020, but Santa Clara issued an order banning all contact sports and practices during a COVID-19 surge. The game was played in Arizona, with the Bills winning.
Allen’s father, Joel, said Thursday’s home-state game was worth the wait.
“There have been a lot of great moments,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “But this is epic.”