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Josh Allen Talks Injury, Playoff Race, 'My Cause My Cleats' and More In B/R Interview

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVNovember 30, 2022

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 24:  Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) looks for a receiver during a regular season NFL football game between the Buffalo Bills and the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day on November 24, 2022 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Thanksgiving week can be a stressful time under even the most normal of circumstances without being forced to travel hundreds of miles to avoid a major snowstorm to perform your job twice as much as usual in a five-day span.

That is exactly what Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills faced in Weeks 11 and 12 of the season when their game against the Cleveland Browns—which took place just four days before a Thanksgiving matchup against the Lions—was moved to Detroit because of weather concerns.

"Just find a way," Allen told Bleacher Report when asked what the team's mindset was that week. "It was a roller coaster of emotions with lots of ups and downs. Getting snowed in, but then having the fans dig us out of our driveways and dig our cars out and help us out with plowing. And then having two games in five days at the same spot that isn't home.

"So it was big for us to kind of battle that and be resilient and come together and get two wins out of that. We could have easily let that be a distraction or excuse, but the leadership that we have in our locker room and how much we care about each other helped make sure that didn't happen."

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That leadership helped the Bills go 2-0 during a stretch that was going to be important regardless of where the games were played.

Buffalo entered the Cleveland matchup on a two-game losing streak and emerged from the contest against the Lions on a two-game winning streak thanks in large part to a back-and-forth victory on Thanksgiving.

Detroit took the lead in the fourth quarter with a D.J. Chark touchdown, but Allen found Stefon Diggs for a score to retake the lead before Detroit tied it with a field goal with 23 seconds left. As if there was ever a doubt, though, Allen directed the offense into field-goal range in the final seconds, and Tyler Bass won it with a 45-yarder.

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"I have the best quarterback in the league."<br><br>Stefon Diggs, Tyler Bass and Josh Allen celebrate a nail-biting Thanksgiving W with <a href="https://twitter.com/tracywolfson?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@tracywolfson</a>, and turkey legs of course 🍗 <a href="https://t.co/p23AhaeYEl">pic.twitter.com/p23AhaeYEl</a>

As if the drama of the entire week wasn't enough, Allen has been playing with an elbow injury that hasn't forced him to miss a game but did leave him questionable ahead of the Week 10 matchup with the Minnesota Vikings.

"The elbow's feeling great," he said in an update that is welcome news for Bills fans. "We're working through it, and I've been able to play the last few games. I really haven't felt it at all. Each day brings more progress as well, so I'm just trying to find a way to truck on."

That means he will take the field Thursday against Mac Jones and the New England Patriots.

While they will be playing against each other, Allen and Jones partnered with Gillette for the NFL's annual My Cause My Cleats initiative. The quarterbacks worked with visual artist Joshua Vides to create their designs with the proceeds for Jones' going to the Boys & Girls Club in Jordan, Massachusetts, and the proceeds for Allen's going to the Oishei Children's Hospital in Buffalo through the Patricia Allen Fund.

The Patricia Allen Fund started when Allen's grandmother died and fans started donating to the Oishei Children's Hospital in $17 increments to match his jersey number.

The cleats will be auctioned at NFL.com/auction, and Gillette will match the proceeds.

"We've got a really cool design this year," Allen said. "...My cleats are going to have the OCH blocks that you can find in front of the hospital, the Team 17 logo on the back, the Patricia Allen Fund—which is something near and dear to my heart—on the sides. There's going to be an EKG, there's a heart on each cleat. And then on the inside, we've got six signatures from kids at Oishei Children's Hospital."

Photo Credit: Joshua Vides

As for Jones, his cleats will feature the Boys & Girls Clubs of America logo and a flower or heart on the toe of each one, which was requested by the members of the club when he visited them.

The choice was clear for Allen when deciding he would represent Oishei Children's Hospital for the My Cause My Cleats initiative.

"As a rookie I did a few visits to see some kids," he said. "And I remember as a kid, my brother was in a children's hospital for a week. I just remember as a young kid the angst that I had with the uncertainty of what was going on. And when I did these visits, I just realized how easily I could make an impact on someone and just brighten their day by showing up and being there to show them that people care."

Photo Credit: Joshua Vides

He will be wearing those cleats in a critical Week 13 game against the Patriots where he will have the opportunity to earn a division win and improve his MVP chances.

The University of Wyoming product has completed 63.9 percent of his passes for 3,183 yards, 23 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and appears well on his way to a third straight season with more than 4,000 passing yards. He also has 561 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.

Allen and Diggs are arguably the top one-two combination in the league, and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick had nothing but positive things to say about the quarterback ahead of the matchup.

"Allen's the leading rusher, so that tells you all you need to know about what you have to defend every time he touches the ball, it could be any number of things and does them all well," he told reporters. "Great player, certainly an MVP candidate. He does a lot for their team in a lot of ways."

While the ultimate goal is to take the next step after heartbreaking playoff losses to the Kansas City Chiefs the last two seasons and reach the Super Bowl, Allen could claim the award with a strong finish as he battles with Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa and others.

But even Belichick's suggestion that he is in the running didn't take away from his primary focus.

"It's such a great compliment coming from someone that's got such a historical resume and is one of, if not the, greatest coaches to ever grace this game," Allen said. "So it means a lot coming from him. But at the same time, all I'm trying to do is find a way to win the game. And he's going to have a good gameplan, they always do. So we have to find a way to adjust in-game and find a way to win."

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Most games with 300 Pass Yards, 3 Pass TD, 0 INT vs Bill Belichick <br>(incl. postseason)<br><br>Josh Allen 3<br>10 players tied 1 <a href="https://t.co/N1UfZ3wdTS">pic.twitter.com/N1UfZ3wdTS</a>

Finding a way to win is all the more important in such a competitive AFC East race.

The AFC West got much of the love before the season with Mahomes, Justin Herbert, Russell Wilson and Derek Carr as the quarterbacks, but only the Chiefs are better than one game over .500.

Instead, it is the AFC East that has taken the spot as the best division in the conference with all four teams above .500 and the Bills and Miami Dolphins sitting at 8-3. Miami is yet to lose a game with a healthy Tua Tagovailoa and even defeated Buffalo in Week 3.

Fortunately for the Bills, everything is still in front of them with four of their final six games against divisional foes.

"It's going to take us playing our best ball and finding ways to be smart, score touchdowns and play complementary football," Allen said when asked what the team needs to do to emerge as division champs. "I think the most important thing is taking it one game at a time and trying to go 1-0 each week. Division games are hard, but our most important game is always the next one. And that's Thursday night."

His cleats will have quite the spotlight as the Bills look to build momentum heading into the stretch run.