The Buffalo Bills (7-3) finally got back in the win column with a victory over the Cleveland Browns (3-7) on Sunday, November 20. With the game switching locations from Highmark Stadium to Ford Field amid a historic snowstorm and the team’s ensuing drama of getting out of Buffalo and to Detroit, the Bills were still able to beat the Browns 31-23 in Week 11.
While the Bills snapped their two-game losing streak, the game started out pretty ugly. Quarterback Josh Allen struggled early, missing six of his first 10 passes and throwing just 27 yards — before leading an 11-play, 78-yard drive and finding Stefon Diggs for a 5-yard touchdown before halftime.
Allen finished against the Browns going 18-of-27 for 197 yards and one touchdown, per ESPN. The usually explosive quarterback didn’t appear to be playing like his normal self, maybe due to the fact that the team was only able to practice once this week, but SB Nation‘s Bruce Nolan tweeted after the game, “Allen being somewhat of a passenger on offense on a day where the Bills put up 31 points was not on my bingo card at any point in the 2022 season.” The clear MVP of the game was kicker Tyler Bass, who went 6-for-6 on field goals, including a 56-yarder in the second half.
Several NFL analysts cast doubt on the belief that Allen’s throwing arm, which he injured in Week 9 against the New York Jets, was fully healed during the first half of the game. Allen had no injury designation for Week 11 but was clearly wearing a brace under his sleeve on Sunday. Democrat & Chronicle‘s Sal Maiorana tweeted, “It’s just bizarre what’s happening to Allen. These passes are all terrible. Even the completions. That elbow might be an issue.”
News 4 Buffalo Nick Veronica wrote, “Josh Allen looks like a guy who could’ve used some time to rest an elbow injury.” ESPN’s Alaina Getzenberg tweeted, “Something is just not right with Josh Allen. The accuracy problems today have been more glaring than in the previous three games.”
Before Allen found Diggs for a touchdown, The Buffalo News‘ Jay Skurski tweeted, “If Josh Allen’s play is being impacted by his elbow injury, the #Bills should take him out of the game. They are losing because of him. … If it’s not, they’ve got much bigger problems.”
However, Allen’s reserved, effective play silenced the critics in the second half. The Athletic‘s Tim Graham and Zak Jackson wrote, “After 10 miserable quarters, Buffalo’s franchise quarterback didn’t do anything reckless. He entered Sunday having thrown two interceptions in the fourth quarter or later twice in his previous three weeks and was coming off his first NFL game with multiple red-zone interceptions (he also fumbled in the end zone for a Vikings touchdown). Allen was clean against the Browns.”
Allen Said After the Game, ‘We Don’t Feel Like We Played Well’
The Bills are finally trending in the right direction after beating the Browns and now sit in second place in the AFC East, but the team is a far cry from what they looked like throughout the first six games of the season.
“I feel like we hurt ourselves a lot tonight. In terms of penalties and just kind of little mistakes. So, a lot to clean up. In the film we have right now, we still don’t feel like we played very well but it goes to show you, playing smart football, we scored 31 points but didn’t play up to our standards, Allen said during the postgame press conference.
Allen, who’s usually the team’s leading rusher, stayed in the pocket against the Browns, only rushing twice for eight yards. Instead, running back Devin Singletary rushed 14 times for 86 yards and a touchdown while rookie James Cook recorded 11 carries for 86 yards, per SI.
Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey has been heavily criticized for continuously putting the team’s offense squarely on Allen’s shoulders, so it was a nice development to see the team utilizing their backs. Allen said after the game, “If we can run it like that, we’re going to continue to run it. That’s no secret.”
A ‘Dirty’ Play Appeared to Target Allen’s Injured Arm
A controversial play took place when Allen was running out of bounds and Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah appeared to reach out and smack Allen’s injured throwing arm. Syracuse.com‘s Ryan Talbot tweeted, “Allen was clearly out of bounds here, but… Owusu-Koramoah takes a clear shot at [his] injured elbow. No flag on the field, but expect JOK to get fined for this one.”
However, not everyone agreed it was a full dirty play. Cover 1 podcast hosts tweeted, “Cheap shot with intent… yes. Penalty, no… fine, unlikely. Allen was still in the air, not technically out of bounds,” while a Browns fan tweeted, “He was barely out of bounds and he JUST switched hands. He’s trying to knock the ball out.”
13WHAM‘s Dan Fetes surmised, “I’m not saying this is a ‘dirty’ play but it’s not ‘clean.’ Josh Allen was understandably upset after getting his injured elbow hit as he was running out of bounds,” while another fan tweeted, “I think anyone outside of Cleveland can tell what was going on here. Let’s call it what it is, that’s a cheap shot and IS dirty.”