Josh Allen's 'clear mind' in road test should encourage Bills

MINNEAPOLIS -- As Josh Allen stood on the sideline at U.S. Bank Stadium preparing to take the field with the Buffalo Bills' offense Sunday, the circumstances alone of making his first career road start could have been overwhelming.

The rookie quarterback was playing without his top offensive playmaker, LeSean McCoy, and for a reeling team considered 17-point underdogs.

More rattling, though, could have been the synchronized "Skol" chant performed by Minnesota Vikings fans seconds before the opening kickoff.

"It's intimidating to come out and hear the 'Skol' chant," Allen said. "[It was] extremely loud, and it was continuous through practically the entire game. There are some good fans here."

Perhaps their Scandinavian salute to good fortune was accidentally applied to the wrong quarterback.

Allen, the No. 7 overall pick in April's draft, presented himself in the Bills' 27-6 victory as more polished and unfazed than Kirk Cousins, who became the NFL's highest-paid player when he signed a fully-guaranteed $84 million deal in March.

If Allen can maintain his impressive composure longer than the Vikings retained their perceived advantage Sunday, the Bills might actually fare a chance as their brutal early-season schedule continues with three road trips in the next four weeks.

"[Allen] was decisive early and that's important," Bills coach Sean McDermott said. "It looked like he played with a clear mind, which is also important for our young players."

The environment Sunday -- where the Bills' blue and red merely dotted the sea of Vikings purple among a crowd of 66,800 -- was almost entirely foreign to Allen. He was raised in a farming town of about 8,000 people outside of Fresno, California and, after not receiving any Division I offers, made his mark at Reedley College. The Tigers play their games at a high school stadium where out 350 people witnessed a Reedley win Saturday.

Allen played in front of a larger stage at Wyoming, but only two of his road starts -- both blowout losses to Big Ten foes Nebraska and Iowa -- came in front of more than 36,000 people.

Compared to his quarterback counterparts in the first round of the 2018 draft -- who played in the ACC, Pac-12 and Big 12 conferences -- Allen seemed least equipped, given his experience in the Mountain West, to immediately handle the pressure of a hostile NFL venue.

There were a few hiccups Sunday for Allen, particularly with ball security. A second-quarter jet sweep-style play to Marcus Murphy almost resulted in a lost fumble, and in the third quarter, Allen had to dive on a botched snap. He was bailed out later in the quarter by tight end Jason Croom when Allen was sacked and allowed the ball to come loose.

Allen only attempted four second-half passes, limiting his exposure. But his poise when the Bills were building their early lead, sucking the hope out of the home crowd, should be commended.

"I think he's done a good job," defensive tackle Kyle Williams said. "I think he's done a good job of kind of soaking it all in. Speaking when he needed to, and outside of that, learning and listening. He's done a really good job. I'm really excited about where he's headed."

Allen's next test? A trip to Lambeau Field, where the Bills opened Sunday evening as 10.5-point underdogs to the Green Bay Packers.