OPINION: It’s the quarterback, dummy

Josh Allen shines in a 47-17 win over the Patriots in the playoffs
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When it comes to the New England Patriots, we’ve been through so much. Nearly 20 years of domination. Three wins from 2001-19.

You know a team is in your head when you can remember those three wins without even having to look them up. The 2003 season opener, the thriller in 2011, and the season finale in 2014 when a certain quarterback only played a half because New England was locked into its usual playoff spot at, or near the top of the conference and the Buffalo Bills were snuggling up with Kyle Orton.

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Bill Belichick - the high priest hoodied Jedi of NFL coaches - has, of course, been there for all of it. Belichick’s record speaks for itself, going all the way back to Super Bowl XV, if you want. There he was the defensive coordinator for the New York Giants, when the Bills lost their first of four-straight Super Bowls.

There will be no cheap shots thrown at the game's greatest coach here. Again, the trophy case tells the story.

But I’d bet for all the scheming and wizardry Belichick has laid down over the years, even he would tell you, you have to have the players. And in the NFL, the most important player is, of course, the quarterback.

Belichick had his time with his quarterback, and the winning seemed as though it would never stop.

Then that quarterback left, and at the same time, a superstar was being born in Buffalo. It is starting to feel like the only way Belichick can corral Josh Allen is for the game to be played in a tornado.

Since Allen arrived in Buffalo, there have been plenty of superlatives thrown around to describe his performances. His growth as a passer, coupled with his ridiculous running ability, have made him a superstar in a city that may have thought their day would never come again.

Now we’ve got an unprecedented offensive performance for the ages to sit with. The Patriots and their vaunted defense got run out of the joint Saturday night in historic fashion.

Prior to kneeling the game out at the end, seven possessions yielded seven touchdowns. No punts, no field goals, no turnovers. Just touchdowns. The offense with Allen at the helm produced a performance that had never been seen before in the NFL.

In the playoffs. Against Belichick. On a frigidly cold January night. With fans packed into Highmark Stadium for a playoff game for the first time in a lifetime.

Please indulge me as I list the Bills' possessions from Saturday night:

- 70-yard touchdown drive
- 80-yard touchdown drive
- 81-yard touchdown drive
- 89-yard touchdown drive
- 58-yard touchdown drive
- 77-yard touchdown drive
- 39-yard touchdown drive
- Backup quarterback kneel-downs

Put that on a t-shirt. Maybe a coffee mug. Bumper stickers should be made. Tattoo it on my damn forehead.

I don’t want you to stop reading, but look at those drives again. I’m trying to move on, but staring at that list of possessions is hypnotizing. Allen did that. He threw more touchdowns (5) than he did incompletions (4).

We tend to want these victories to be permanent, which isn’t really possible in sports. There’s always another game, another season. We thought we were done with Belichick and the Patriots last year. I mean, he threw a phone!

Even earlier this season, it may have seemed like the Patriots were permanently in the rear view mirror. Until they weren’t. Then they were ahead of the Bills.

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What, you mean we have to keep on beating these guys? Yeah, as it turns out. If you’re gonna run things, you have to keep on beating your rivals. They’re not ever really dead, because the next game or the next season always comes.

But that’s for another day. For now, just enjoy looking at those touchdown drives.

And know this: When they meet again, the Bills will be quarterbacked by a superstar in Allen, who was running so hot on Saturday night that he helped Buffalo put up an offensive performance of historical proportions.

Mac Jones mostly looked cold.

Photo credit Losi and Gangi
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