Josh Allen gets Bills off to fast start in 24-18 win over Buccaneers

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) celebrates his touchdown pass to wide receiver Gabe Davis (13) in the second half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) celebrates his touchdown pass to wide receiver Gabe Davis (13) in the second half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

AP Sports Writer

Eds: UPDATES: with quotes, details. Will be updated. With AP Photos.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -- Josh Allen threw two touchdown passes and ran for another -- shrugging off aggravating an injury to his throwing shoulder -- and the Buffalo Bills hung on to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24-18 on Thursday night.

After a week of questions about his "low-energy" approach and Buffalo's slow-starting offense, Allen came through for the Bills (5-3), throwing for 324 yards on 31-of-40 passing. He had been listed on the Bills' report with a right shoulder injury and was checked in the blue medical tent in the second quarter, but remained in the game.

Gabriel Davis had a career-best nine catches for 87 yards and a touchdown, and rookie tight end Dalton Kincaid scored his first career TD on a 22-yard catch.

"Personally, I feel like I did, but I will let you guys write about that whether you guys thought I did or not," Allen said, on bringing a higher energy level. "I spread the ball around and I felt like, mentality wise, we were in a good spot."

Allen also reintroduced running threat ability in finishing with seven carries for 41 yards -- his most since a season-best 46 in a 37-3 win over Washington in Week. 3.

Receiver Khalil Shakir sensed a difference in a game he had six catches for a team-high 92 yards.

"We just came to this game with a different mindset," Shakir said. "Obviously, ups and downs, but (coach Sean) McDermott tells us don't ride the roller coaster. Stay consistent as a team and stay on the gas pedal."

Buffalo's defense limited the Buccaneers' Baker Mayfield-led attack to less than 200 yards of offense through three quarters and 302 overall. And Bills punter Sam Martin contributed by landing three punts inside Tampa Bay's 10.

Mayfield tried to rally Tampa Bay (3-4) late. He threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans, followed by a 2-point conversion to Cade Otton, to get the Buccaneers within six with 2:44 remaining. But it took Tampa Bay 17 plays and 7:21 to march 92 yards for that score.

The game ended when Mayfield's Hail Mary attempt from his own 45 fell between several players in the end zone. The Buccaneers have lost three straight and four of five since opening 2-0.

"We fought our tails off and we understand how hard we fought, but we keep making small mistakes that cost us the game," Tampa Bay coach Todd Bowles said. "But I don't believe for one bit that anybody in that locker room believes we can't win ball games."

Penalties were an issue for the Buccaneers, who were flagged 11 times for 74 yards. That included offensive lineman Nick Leverett picking up an unnecessary roughness call following the two-point conversion, which forced Tampa Bay to kick off from its own 20. Center Cody Mauch was also flagged for holding, negating a 42-yard catch by Evans four plays into Tampa Bay's final scoring drive.

"We've got the fight, now we just need the execution," Mayfield said.

Buffalo built a 17-10 lead at halftime and never trailed. That was seven more points than the Bills had combined for in the first halves of their previous three games, two of which they lost.

Having a lead took the pressure off a defense missing three key starters.

Mayfield finished 25 of 42 for 237 yards and two touchdowns, including a 3-yarder to Chris Godwin, who was the closest to Mayfield's final throw when it fell to the turf untouched. Running back Rachaad White led the Bucs with seven catches for 70 yards and had nine carries for 39 yards.

Tampa Bay's defense was missing both starting defensive tackles. Vita Vea was ruled out with a groin injury, and Logan Hall hurt his groin during pre-game warmups.

Allen took advantage, topping 300 yards for the 23rd time in his career.

His TD run was the 43rd of his career, matching Steve Young for second-most all-time among quarterbacks. And he now has 199 combined passing and rushing touchdowns, tying Hall of Famer Dan Marino for second among quarterbacks in their first six seasons.

Allen said on Tuesday he might be partially responsible for Buffalo's slow-starting offense after consciously making the decision to rein in his emotions last month. Allen called it a "low positive" approach and acknowledged he might have gone too far in reducing his energy level.

The only thing subdued about Allen was his touchdown celebration following his 13-yard scoring run. Allen stood in the left corner of the end zone in front of a cheering crowd and casually walked up the sideline after being congratulated by several teammates.

On the play before his TD run, Allen was sacked along the sideline, and that hit is what sent him to the medical tent to have his shoulder evaluated. He returned in time for Buffalo's next drive but threw an interception when his pass deflected off the fingers of Antoine Winfield Jr. and was caught by defensive lineman William Gholston.

The Buccaneers scored two plays later on Mayfield's pass to Godwin to tie the game at 10-all.

Allen then led Buffalo on a nine-play, 75-yard drive, capped by the quarterback rolling to his right and throwing across his body to find Kincaid open over the middle.

Everything the offense appeared to lack over the past three weeks seemed corrected. The Bills changed their rhythm by going up-tempo at times to keep the Bucs off balance. And Allen attacked the middle of the field, something he was hesitant to do in his previous two outings.

UP NEXT

Buccaneers: At Houston on Nov. 5.

Bills: At Cincinnati on Nov. 5. Last January on the road against the Bengals, Bills safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest and needed to be resuscitated on the field. The game was halted and eventually canceled. Hamlin has resumed playing but has only been active once this season.

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photo Buffalo Bills defensive end Kingsley Jonathan (59) celebrates in the second half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
photo Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) talks with wide receiver Chris Godwin, right, in the second half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
photo Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) runs for a first down after escaping a sack in the second half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
photo Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) carries in the first half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
photo Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Rachaad White, front, is tackled by Buffalo Bills safety Jordan Poyer, rear, in the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
photo Buffalo Bills tight end Dalton Kincaid (86) gestures after scoring in front of Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Ryan Neal, right, in the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
photo Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) gestures in the first half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
photo Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin (14) carries in the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
photo Buffalo Bills cornerback Josh Norman (29) and Cam Lewis, right, celebrate a tackle by Norman in the first half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

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