On Saturday, they both gave us a tease of what’s to come in 2022. While it’s ill-advised to make too much of what happens on an NFL preseason field, it’s hard not to get excited about the rival MVP candidates’ show on Saturday.
Allen dazzles in preseason debut
After sitting out Buffalo’s preseason opener against the Indianapolis Colts, Allen got the start for the Bills on Saturday against the Denver Broncos. He used up most of it.
After the Broncos kicked a field goal on their opening drive, Allen took over the Bills offense at Buffalo’s 30-yard line. Six plays and 70 yards later, the Bills scored the first of their six touchdowns in 42-15 win. Allen was perfect on the road.
He looked at receiver Isaiah McKenzie for a 10-yard gain on the first play of the drive. Three plays later, he made a short connection with fellow Pro Bowler Stefon Diggs for a seven-yard gain. Then, he did what he does best – make a play.
On second-and-8 from the Denver 28-yard line, Allen faced a collapsing pocket under pressure from the Broncos’ four-man pass rush. He stepped up, then circled back and launched a missile toward the left side of the end zone toward receiver Gabriel Davis, who was standing between a pair of Broncos defenders. They didn’t stand a chance.
Davis jumped in the air to catch the strike and held the ball for a touchdown as cornerback Damarri Mathis tried to charge it loose.
The play was signature Allen, who displayed his trademark athleticism, rebounding ability and cannon of an arm all in one sequence. It marked a fitting end to his day when he finished 3-of-3 for 45 yards and the score.
Case Keenum and Matt Barkley kept the party going in relief as Buffalo scored touchdowns on its first six possessions against various iterations of Denver’s preseason defense. Denver fans, meanwhile, will continue to have to wait for Russell Wilson’s Broncos debut, as the first-year quarterback sat out his second preseason game. He is not expected to play until Denver opens its regular season on the road against his former Seattle Seahawks in a highly anticipated Monday night matchup.
Mahomes shines with Justin Watson, has work to do with MVS
While Allen played a single possession in his preseason debut, Mahomes continues to see a surprising amount of preseason run for Kansas City.
After leading a touchdown in a single possession against the Chicago Bears last week, Mahomes played two possessions with Chiefs starters against the Washington Commanders on Saturday. Both ended with touchdowns inbounds Kansas City’s 24-14 win.
Muhammad spread the ball around while connecting with Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Justin Watson, Travis Kelce, Jerrick McKinnon, Noah Gray, Isiah Pacheco and Jody Fortson.
Watson joined the Chiefs as a free agent this offseason after spending his first four NFL seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was on the same page with Mahomes on Saturday on a pair of big league hits. His first catch of the day set up Kansas City’s first touchdown.
On the Chiefs’ first possession, Mahomes looked to Watson deep downfield facing a third-and-10 blitz from Washington’s 47-yard line. Watson hit Commanders safety Kamren Curl and scooped up the deep ball for a 39-yard gain to the Washington 8-yard line.
Two plays later, Mahomes found Fortson in the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
The pair then connected to keep the next drive alive on another third-down near midfield. Mahomes escaped pressure on third-and-6 and scrambled to his left to keep the play alive. What happened next was signing Mahomes with help from his first-year receiver, who clearly vibes with his new quarterback.
Mahomes threw the ball sidearmed back across his body toward the middle of the field, where Watson was ready for the makeshift pass he caught for a first down.
Here’s another angle if you weren’t impressed enough:
That drive ended with another touchdown pass to Fortson as Mahomes finished his day completing 12 of 19 passes for 162 yards with two touchdowns in two possessions. And he left some room for improvement.
The Chiefs came oh-so-close to starting the game with a home run play, but Mahomes and Valdez-Scantling weren’t quite on the same page. On Kansas City’s third play from scrimmage, Mahomes looked deep down the right sideline for Valdez-Scantling, who broke free over the top of the Washington secondary. The throw just missed when the ball from Mahomes sailed to the sideline while Valdez-Scantling seemed to wait for it to arrive further infield.
Valdez-Scantling joined the Chiefs after four seasons with the Green Bay Packers and is expected to see plenty of opportunities to help fill the void left by now-Miami Dolphin Tyreek Hill. The missed connection is the type of play Kansas City hopes to be marked for Week 1 against the Arizona Cardinals.
USFL MVP with troubled past scores 2 return TDs for Cowboys
A player fighting for a second chance made a big impression on the field on Saturday.
USFL MVP KaVontae Turpin has a shot to earn a roster spot with the Dallas Cowboys. The 26-year-old former TCU wide receiver made a strong case on Saturday by posting not one, but two return touchdowns against the Los Angeles Chargers.
His first was a 98-yard kickoff return to get the Cowboys on the board with a 7-3 lead.
His second was an 86-yard punt return to extend the Cowboys lead to 22-10.
With starters sidelined for both teams, Turpin’s touchdowns proved to be the difference in the Cowboys’ 32-18 victory. A burner with elite speed, Turpin told USA Today that he clocked a 4.29 40-yard dash.
He’s looking for his first NFL shot next pleading guilty to assaulting his girlfriend in 2019. He served two years probationand Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy believes he deserves a second chance.
“In life, if you get a second chance, you do the job,” McCarthy said when the Cowboys signed Turpin. “My understanding is that he was responsible and accountable and did the things he had to do.”
Malik Willis steals a show; Bucs suffer another blow to offensive line
He was not effective. But after dazzling in his NFL debut last week, Tennessee rookie quarterback Malik Willis made more highlights on Saturday when he got the start for the Titans in their 13-3 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
He did it with his arm, escaping pressure near the goal line with a sidearm slingshot to Dez Fitzpatrick.
He did it with his legs on a 24-yard scramble to set up a Titans field goal for the game’s first score.
He ended up completing 7 of 17 passes for 80 yards with a touchdown. He led the Titans with 42 rushing yards on five carries. It was not an effort that will challenge incumbent Ryan Tannehill for the starting job. But that is not his job. The Titans drafted Willis in the third round with an eye on the future, not 2022. But could his athleticism and playmaking ability make him a situational pick this season?
Meanwhile, the Bucs received more bad news on the offensive line when guard Aaron Stinnie was carted off the field with a knee injury. He competed for a starting job on the line already missing center Ryan Jensen with a knee injury. Oblique injury could also sideline left tackle Tristan Wirfs start the season.
Tua makes preseason debut without Tyreek Hill as Dolphins fall to Raiders
We didn’t get our first look at Tua-to-Tyreek on Saturday. Tua Tagovailoa got his first start of the preseason on Saturday against the Las Vegas Raiders. But after warming up, Tyreek Hill was a late scratch as a pre-season precautionmeaning we’ll have to wait to see how the newly minted quarterback tandem looks on an actual football field.
Tagovailoa completed 6 of 8 passes for 58 yards while playing with most of his fellow Dolphins offensive starters in the 15-13 Raiders win. The Dolphins hit a field goal on Tagovailoa’s two drives. It was a familiar site for Dolphins fans used to seeing him complete most of his passes for not much yardage.
Kenny Pickett looks good again playing with Steelers starters
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars both played starters on Saturday and have reason to feel good about their quarterbacks after the 16-15 Pittsburgh win. Mitchell Trubisky started, but first-round rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett got some run with the Steelers starters and finished 6-of-7 with 76 yards and a touchdown playing against Jacksonville’s defensive starters. His 11-yard touchdown pass to Benny Snell capped a 42-second, 63-yard drive in a two-minute drill to close the first half. This comes later he threw for two touchdowns in his preseason debut against the Seattle Seahawks playing with and against backups.
Second-year Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence was just as solid against Steelers starters, completing 14 of 21 passes for 133 yards playing the entire first half. Jacksonville managed just six first-half points with Lawrence on the field.
Lions win over Colts as starters rest
In a battle of backups, Lions reserves put in a performance to make head coach Dan Campbell proud. Detroit’s defenders stopped a 2-point conversion with 38 seconds left as the Lions held on for a 27-26 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
Meanwhile, the Lions tallied 174 yards on the ground while limiting Colts running back Jonathan Taylor to 30 yards. It all adds up to a win in the grit column.
49ers top Vikings like Lance, Garoppolo sit
There’s not much of interest to glean from San Francisco’s 17-7 win over Minnesota. After testing each other’s starters in joint practices during the week, backups took center stage during Saturday’s preseason matchup. That means no Trey Lance. Not Justin Jefferson. No Kirk Cousins. It also means no Jimmy Garoppolo, whose status remains one of the interesting questions of the preseason. It was not answered Saturday.
Nate Sudfeld found JaMycal Hasty for the only San Francisco touchdown while Ty Chandler ran in Minnesota’s only score.