The last Bolts rookie to post back-to-back 100-yard games? Don Norton on December 4th, 1960.
Allen became the second player on that list after notching 222 receiving yards over the last two games. But the rookie from California is answering much more than trivia for the Chargers. In his latest breakthrough performance, Allen became the tough receiver who can go over the middle, absorb contact and come down with a pass when the offense needs it most.
Look no further than a two-play stretch in the first quarter to see why Allen is becoming a trusted target in Head Coach Mike McCoy's system.
On third down, the receiver broke free from man coverage and drove Colts cornerback Vontae Davis down the field. Then, he planted his feet and cut over the middle of the field, showing his numbers to Rivers long enough to garner his attention. Davis closed in on the pass, but Allen caught it with the defender draped over his shoulder for a 13-yard, chains-moving pickup.
Then, on the ensuing first down, Rivers came back to his breakout target. Allen took two steps and cut to the middle of the field on a slant pattern. Rivers hit him for four yards, but Allen dragged Davis for four more yards.
It proved to Rivers that Allen deserved those back-to-back targets. More importantly, the rookie receiver and the veteran passer showed they've developed a rapport very few first-year players have the chance to forge.
"You earn that (confidence from a quarterback) as a receiver," Rivers said. "You develop that as a quarterback with a receiver over time. He was awesome. I don’t know how many catches he ended up with tonight, but he was really good because they came in the game and they said they were trying to take (Antonio) Gates away. Gradually each week, he’s becoming more and more involved.”
It’s taken just six regular season games for Allen to be the receiver Rivers looks to when it’s time to score. On the game’s only touchdown, he trusted Allen to fight past double coverage in the end zone – and that’s exactly what Allen did.
Rivers led him back to the middle of the field with his 22-yard pass and Allen did the rest. He outwrestled two defenders in midair, secured the pass, and fell to the ground with the ball tucked away. When he sprung up to his feet, Qualcomm Stadium erupted.
He not only caught the touchdown, he also caught the attention of his head coach once again.
“Like all young football players in this league, the more you play, the more opportunities you get as a receiver, the more your confidence starts to rise,” said McCoy. “It's an improvement for him. He's getting better every week.”