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NFL playoffs: Patriots need a disciplined pass rush against Bills quarterback Josh Allen

Related: Bill Belichick on playing the Bills a third time this season: ‘Each game has its own unique circumstances’

NFL: DEC 26 Bills at Patriots Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The New England Patriots know quite well what Josh Allen can do. The Buffalo Bills’ starting quarterback has given them plenty of trouble recently, leading his team to victory in three of the last four meetings.

In those four games, Allen has posted some impressive numbers. He completed 63.4 percent of his passes for 933 yards as well as eight touchdowns and just one interception. He also carried the football 26 times for 166 yards and another score.

Allen’s ability to stress a defense with both his arm and his legs, and extend plays to put more pressure on the coverage, is what makes him one of the best quarterbacks in football right now. It’s also a key area of concern for the Patriots heading into the two teams’ wild card playoff meeting on Saturday.

“It’s just tough when he can do both,” said linebacker Matthew Judon about Allen’s versatility earlier this week.

“We have to keep him in the pocket and make him use his arm. Make him beat the coverage instead of everybody being covered and him uncovering everybody with his running, especially when our DBs and linebackers have their backs turned, when he can just pick lanes and weave, and end up with a 25-yard gain on what looks like we have everybody covered. Up front, we have to do a better job of just containing him.”

Containing Allen has been an issue for the Patriots recently. His rushing average of 6.4 yards per run speaks for itself.

His success on the ground has come in a variety of situations. While 16 of his runs came in a designed setting, 10 happened on scramble drills. On those, Allen was able to escape the pocket for a combined gain of 111 yards and an average of 11.1 yards per rush. He also picked up six first downs.

To bring those numbers down and limit Allen’s impact on scramble runs or play extension, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick points towards pass rush discipline and situational awareness.

“It’s rushing, but pass rushing with discipline and awareness,” Belichick said. “If you miss him and he gets loose, that’s going to be a big problem. You just can’t stand there and watch him throw. That’s not the answer, but being undisciplined and just running around back there, letting him run, that’s not the answer either.

“He’s a hard guy to defend. We’ll have to try to balance ... aggressive rush with vision and an element of containment on him.”