Sept. 9 (UPI) — Quarterback Josh Allen unleashed his arsenal of stiff-armed runs and precise passing as Buffalo Bills defenders overwhelmed opposing quarterback Matthew Stafford in a thrashing of the Super Bowl-champion Los Angeles Rams in the NFL season opener on Thursday night.
Allen completed 26 of 31 passes for 297 yards and threw for three touchdowns in the 31-10 triumph Thursday at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. He ran for another touchdown in the lopsided victory.
“We needed to win a game because we needed to put our best foot forward, try to execute the way we know we can execute, and just try to win the game, that’s all,” Allen told reporters.
“1-0 each week is our mindset, [and being] playoff caliber, that’s what we’re trying to do.”
The game was tied at 10 at the half before the Bills, who forced three turnovers, shut out the Rams with 21 unanswered points over the final two quarters.
The Bills defense sacked Stafford six times. Buffalo linebacker Von Miller had two of them.
For Los Angeles, Stafford completed 29 of 41 passes for 240 yards, one score and three interceptions.
“As disappointing as [this game] is, you never want to start the season that way,” Stafford said. “It really doesn’t matter if it’s the first game, last game, whatever it is.
“You want to win them all. Didn’t accomplish that goal. Didn’t play well enough to do it.”
The Bills out-gained the Rams 413 to 243 in total yards and Buffalo held Los Angeles to 52 rushing yards.
“They did a great job,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “When you look at a lot of the ways that this game unfolded, I feel a huge sense of responsibility to this team.
“We weren’t ready to go. I take a lot of pride in that and that’s on me. I got to do better.”
Allen led the Bills to an efficient, 11-play touchdown drive to open the game. He ended that possession with a 26-yard touchdown toss to wide receiver Gabriel Davis.
Both offenses struggled to produce points for the remainder of the first quarter. Bills kicker Tyler Bass made a 41-yard field goal about six minutes into the second for a 10-0 lead.
The Rams answered with a 13-play, 55-yard touchdown drive. Stafford connected with star wide receiver Cooper Kupp on a 4-yard touchdown toss to end that possession.
Rams kicker Matt Gay added a 57-yard field goal just before halftime to tie the score at the break.
The Rams punted on the first drive of the second half. Allen then orchestrated another long drive. He ended that 10-play, 63-yard possession with a 7-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie.
Allen helped the Bills push their lead to two touchdowns when he ran for a 4-yard score with 13:34 remaining. He connected with star wide receiver Stefon Diggs on a 53-yard touchdown toss about four minutes later for the final points of the night.
Diggs totaled 122 yards and a touchdown on eight catches. Jordan Phillips and A.J. Epenesa totaled 1.5 sacks apiece in the victory. Greg Rousseau, Boogie Basham and Miller logged the other Stafford takedowns.
Basham, Jordan Poyer and Dane Jackson also interceptions the Rams quarterback. Kupp totaled 13 catches for 128 yards and a score for the Rams. Bobby Wagner and Aaron Donald sacked Allen in the loss.
“It was a very humbling night, but hey, you got to be able to look yourself in the mirror, say ‘I got to be better within the framework of my role,'” Rams coach Sean McVay said.
“That’s exactly what I’m going to do. That’s what I know our coaches are going to do. That’s what our players are going to do. We’re going to stay together and we’re looking forward to our next opportunity to be resilient and respond.”
The Rams (0-1) next will host the Atlanta Falcons in their second game at 1:05 p.m. PDT Sept. 18 at SoFi Stadium and the Bills (1-0) will host the Tennessee Titans at 7:15 p.m. EDT on Monday Night Football on Sept. 19 at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y.