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Josh Allen, Bills shake off Mother Nature, Steelers in 31-17 playoff win

Jan. 15—By JOHN WAWROW

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Josh Allen threw three touchdown passes and scored on a franchise playoff-record 52-yard touchdown run, and the Bills beat the Steelers, 31-17, on Jan. 15 in an AFC wild-card playoff game that was postponed a day because of a lake-effect blizzard.

The Highmark Stadium stands erupted with snow being tossed into the air like confetti when Allen threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Khalil Shakir with 6:27 remaining that restored a two-touchdown lead for Buffalo. Shakir caught the pass at the 10 over the middle, and then slipped Minkah Fitzpatrick's tackle attempt by spinning around before outracing the rest of the Steelers defenders into the end zone.

The second-seeded Bills (12-6), who closed the regular season with five straight wins, advance to host Patrick Mahomes and the No. 3 seed Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round on Jan. 14. The Bills have longed for a home playoff game against the Chiefs after their 2020 and '21 seasons ended with playoff losses at Kansas City.

Allen finished 21 of 30 for 203 yards and ran for 74 yards on eight carries, becoming the first quarterback in NFL playoff history to throw three or more TD passes while rushing for 70 or more yards and a score.

Mason Rudolph threw two touchdown passes in his first playoff start for the Steelers (10-8), but Pittsburgh was too inconsistent on either side of the ball to keep up with Allen and the Bills. The Steelers lost their fifth straight playoff game; the franchise's most recent postseason victory was exactly seven years ago.

The Steelers came out flat, allowing Buffalo to score touchdowns on three of its first five possessions and build a 21-0 lead on Allen's electrifying touchdown run midway through the second quarter. But Pittsburgh got back into the game by blocking a field goal attempt late in the second quarter, leading to a touchdown.

Rudolph, a longtime backup, took over for the injured Kenny Pickett and ineffective Mitch Trubisky to lead the Steelers to three straight wins to close the regular season and was given the playoff start even after Pickett recovered from an ankle injury.

Buffalo had a to wait an extra day to host the Steelers after a dangerous snowstorm that dumped more than 2 feet of snow on the region, leading the NFL to bump the game from its scheduled Jan. 14 afternoon start.

The elements didn't play much of a factor. Though temperatures were in the teens, the skies were clear and there was only a slight breeze blowing in off Lake Erie.

THE SCORE

Bills 31, Steelers 17