The Buffalo Bills beat the Steelers 31-17 in the Wild Card game and have advanced to the AFC Divisional round to face the Chiefs.
Here's the top 3 things we learned:
1 — Josh Allen catches fire in the Buffalo cold
There's such a duality to Josh Allen's game that he seems to set near impossible NFL records on a weekly basis, and yet his teammates are almost never surprised.
In the Bills' 31-17 Wild Card win over the Steelers, Allen became the first player in NFL history to throw 3+ TD passes while also rushing for 70+ yards and a TD in a postseason game.
"It's almost normal now," TE Dawson Knox said. "Him making a crazy play like that almost every single game. Sometimes you just can't help but just to sit back and be a fan."
His 52-yard run in the second quarter — one of Allen's four total touchdowns of the night — is both the longest playoff TD run in Bills franchise history and the second-longest TD run by a QB in NFL playoff history.
Allen detailed how it happened: "It was third and long. They played man, we didn't have a great man call on, so I decided to try to find a lane and got 15-20 yards downfield."
"And there's a lot of guys screaming 'slide!'. And I didn't slide and scored. So it worked out that time," he chuckled.
Safety Micah Hyde watched from the sideline — one of the many Bills players yelling for a slide — only to watch Allen side step and barrel through multiple defenders for an ear-deafening score in a jam packed Highmark Stadium.
"That's JA man. How big he is, he's actually really elusive," Hyde said. "He kind of has that one-two step, real quick to get people off balance and broke a tackle and took it to the house."
On the 52-yard run, Allen reached 19.33 mph according to Next Gen Stats, his fastest speed as a ball carrier this season and gained the most yards by a quarterback on a scramble this season.
Allen finished his superb evening with 21-of-30 passing for 203 yards, 3 TD and no turnovers. He added 8 rushes for 74 yards and a TD.
He threw his first two touchdowns of the game in the first quarter, both coming to Buffalo TEs. Allen hit a wide open Knox on a corner route on the Bills' opening drive, marking the fourth straight year Knox has caught Buffalo's first TD of the Wild Card game.
"Josh put on the money," Knox said.
Allen found rookie TE Dalton Kincaid in the first quarter and WR Khalil Shakir in the fourth quarter for other touchdown passes. It's his first 3 touchdown passing performance since Week 11 vs. the Jets.
In nine postseason games, Allen holds a 20 TD to 4 INT ratio and has the second-most TDs by a QB in the playoffs since 2020.
2 — Shakir & Kincaid dazzle for first career playoff TDs
It was a night to remember for rookie TE Dalton Kincaid and second year WR Khalil Shakir as both players secured their first career playoff touchdown receptions.
Kincaid caught a 20-yard pass on the opening drive to set up Knox's score. Then, after Buffalo recovered a fumble at the Pittsburgh 29-yard line, the Bills decided to take a shot to the end zone on the very next play.
Buffalo came out in an empty set with five pass catchers on the field and found their mismatch. Kincaid got open up the seam and Allen delivered a strike for a TD to go up 14-0.
"That's a game plan play we had against their specific defense," Allen said. "We saw the exact look that we practiced and (Kincaid) made a heck of a catch there."
Added Kincaid: "I saw the safeties go apart, the mike linebacker was dropping in Tampa 2 and that's exactly how we had it schemed up this week in practice. A.J. Klein actually was running the scout team as the backer for this week and it's cool to see it translate over."
In the fourth quarter, with the Bills up 24-17 and needing one last drive to seal the game, the offense went on a 7-play, 70-yard drive culminating in a wild catch and run from Shakir.
Shakir appeared to have been spun down by a Steelers defender but somehow kept his balance and weaved through defenders for six points. Highmark Stadium erupted, sensing a Wild Card win was in hand up 31-17 with four minutes to play.
"Just a shallow cross, my job is to get across the field and show eyes if they do blitz and Josh put it right on me — and, I don't know, the dude hit me and I was able to just stay up and make a play from there. Everyone else finished the play as well, everyone else finished blocks and I was able to get in the end zone."
McDermott drew a comparison to Rams rookie receiver Puka Nacua who fell to the Rams in the fifth round of the draft — and how neither Shakir or Nacua are seen as premier athletes but instead are smart, tough players who still find ways to produce.
Shakir, Buffalo's fifth round draft pick last season, has at least 30 yards receiving in his first three playoff games as a Bill.
"It was the young receiver the Rams have, and how he's (Nacua) not a great tester, or this or that, he's a great football player," McDermott said. "If you measure Khalil by playing the game of football, I think he's a pretty, pretty special player and person, for that matter."
3 — Bills control the ground game
The Steelers came into Monday with 357 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the ground over their last two games.
Against the Bills, the Steelers top two running backs Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren combined for just 75 yards on 20 carries, an average of 3.75 yards per touch.
Meanwhile, the Bills gained 179 yards on the ground and gained 11 first downs. James Cook led the way with 79 yards.
McDermott praised the balance the offense had in the game, specifically mentioning Cook as someone he was impressed with.
"It's always important that you can stay two dimensional. I thought James ran with purpose tonight," McDermott said. "You could tell by the tilt of his pads he was ready to go. So, we need more of that."