Last Sunday, the Buffalo Bills trailed the Detroit Lions 13-7 early in the fourth quarter when a pair of rookies delivered the play of the game.
One was prized rookie quarterback Josh Allen, who had high expectations placed on him after being selected No. 7 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. The other was Robert Foster, an undrafted free agent who was cut in October but has reemerged as the team’s leading receiver over the last five weeks.
Foster, a speedster who ran a 4.41-second 40-yard dash and went undrafted out of the University of Alabama, and Allen once again hooked up on a game-changing touchdown pass to lift Buffalo (5-9) to a 14-13 win over Detroit (5-9) in Week 15.
Foster ran the same “deep over” route that worked to perfection for a 75-yard touchdown pass in Buffalo’s 24-21 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 12. This time, Foster sprinted up the field before breaking off on a slant route, heading towards the sideline. He beat his man, cornerback Mike Ford, leapt to snare the pass at the 14-yard line, and ran into the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown.
Foster finished with four catches for 108 yards, an impressive 27 yards per catch. Those 108 yards are the eighth-most receiving yards in a game by a rookie this season, with Foster possessing four of the top fifteen highest receiving totals by rookies in 2018.
Beyond his actual catches, Foster also drew a huge pass interference call against Mike Ford, a 43-yard penalty that helped set up Buffalo’s first touchdown.
It was the latest in a line of productive outings for Foster, who recorded his third 100-plus yard effort this year, making him the first undrafted wide receiver to rack up three games with 100 or more receiving yards since the 2001 season.
Foster etched his name in Buffalo’s record books, becoming the first undrafted free agent in team history to post back-to-back games with 100-plus yards. With three 100-yard games under his belt, Foster is the first Buffalo wideout since Sammy Watkins in 2015 to record three 100-yard games in a season.
With 19 catches for 468 yards, a gaudy yards per catch average of 24.6, Foster would lead the league among qualified wide receivers, if only he had enough catches (to be eligible, a player needs to record at least two catches per game, and Foster only has 19 catches so far in Buffalo’s 14 games. He would need 13 catches over Buffalo’s last two games to become eligible).
Still, Foster is making his presence felt on a team that is sorely lacking big-time offensive weapons. He leads the team in yards-per-catch, and is second in receiving yards and touchdowns (two).
Before Buffalo’s bye, Foster broke onto the scene in a big way during a 41-10 rout of the New York Jets in Week 10. He caught three passes (four targets) for 105 yards, including a 47-yard catch off a pass from Matt Barkley on Buffalo’s first offensive play of the game. That deep ball sparked the Bills, who entered the contest having scored 33 points over their last four games, but nearly surpassed that total by halftime.
His 100-yard outing against the Jets came just one day after he was elevated from the team’s practice squad and onto the 53-man roster. It was his second stint on the active roster, as Foster showed enough during the off-season and preseason to crack the team’s 53-man roster.
But he was released in October after making only two catches for 30 yards. The Bills re-signed him to the practice squad before bringing him back up to the 53-man roster leading up to the Jets game.
In his four seasons playing for Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide, Foster had 35 catches for 389 yards and three touchdowns. He has eclipsed his career yardage from his Alabama days over Buffalo’s last five games, and Foster is coming into his own as a reliable receiver and deep threat for Allen—something the Bills desperately need heading into 2019.