March 3, 2024

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Josh Allen's TD rush dazzles Bills in Wild Card win against Steelers

Josh Allen's TD rush dazzles Bills in Wild Card win against Steelers

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — When Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen rushed and raced his way onto the field, preparing to meet Pittsburgh Steelers defenders, it was interim offensive coordinator Joe Brady who was calling on a headset to his fellow coaches for Allen to slide into avoiding contact.

Others on the Bills team on the field and on the sideline were yelling for him to get down, per Allen, but instead, he kept running. His legs kept moving on third-and-7 from the Buffalo 48-yard line midway through the second quarter and led to a 52-yard touchdown run as part of a playoff performance that reset the record books for the NFL and the Bills.

Allen's play led Buffalo to a 31-17 win over the Steelers in Monday's wild-card playoff game. Cue the snow thrown into the air around Highmark Stadium.

“They played a man, and we didn't have a great man, so I decided to try to find a passer and I got 15-20 yards and there were a lot of guys screaming slide,” Allen said. “And he didn't slide and score. So it worked out at the time.”

Or as McDermott described, “This is Josh doing some of what Josh is known for. So, everything in moderation.” This from a coach who emphasized the importance of Allen learning how to slide over the years to avoid hits.

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Wide receiver Khalil Shakir remembers his jaw dropping while playing with rookie tight end Dalton Kinkaid, agreeing that it still surprises him. Dawson Knox noted that it's almost normal now to see him make at least one crazy play.

“The amazing part is I feel like I've been spoiled since I've been in the league,” Spencer Brown said. “I've been with Josh every year I've been here, but like his ability to make plays and do things like that, almost, you don't see that very often, but I've seen it a lot of times, and I don't want to say I'm insensitive to it, but it's like, “Yes, we will take him.”

Allen finished the rescheduled game — which was scheduled to start at 1 p.m. ET Sunday, but moved back a day due to a snowstorm — completing 21 of 30 passes for 203 yards and three touchdowns. He ran for 74 yards on eight carries and a score. The touchdown run was the longest rushing score in Bills postseason history and the second-longest by a quarterback (Colin Kaepernick, 56 yards, 2012 divisional round).

“I thought Josh did a great job when we needed the yards the most…He just took off and made some gutsy runs and I praised him,” center Mitch Morse said. “I thought it might slip at first, and then it was like, ‘No, no, no. “Yes, yes, yes, yes.” And as he always does, he gets us out of difficult situations.

The game marked Allen's third career playoff game with four combined passing touchdowns, a rushing touchdown and zero turnovers, tying Joe Montana and Patrick Mahomes for the most in NFL history. It was only the second time since Week 4 that Allen didn't turn the ball over.

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The decrease in turnovers due to the Bills offense has been linked to Brady taking over the play-calling in Week 11 and an increase in running the football. From Weeks 1 through 10, Buffalo had a designed rushing percentage of 36% and a drive turnover percentage of 17. Since then, its rushing play percentage increased to 47 and the percentage of drives ending in turnovers decreased to 10.

It wasn't a perfect game from Allen and the offense combined with a slow start to the second half — a triple-double followed by the only field goal of 14 plays — helped the Steelers claw their way back. The game and get it within one score.

But when they needed it most, Allen and the offense responded with a touchdown on the next drive, thanks to some elusive moments by Shakir after catching a pass from Allen to get into the end zone.

“[Allen’s] very different. “He's the best midfielder in the league for sure,” Shaker said. “What he can do. And yeah, those moments like that, it feels good of course.”

Next up for the Bills is hosting the Kansas City Chiefs in Mahomes' first road playoff game on a day short of preparation due to the contest being postponed. Mahomes and Allen represent the third group of starting quarterbacks to face each other three times in the postseason before turning 30, joining John Elway, Bernie Kosar, Troy Aikman and Brett Favre.

“[Mahomes] “He might want to come out here, man, the many times we've played out there, he might need a change of scenery,” defensive tackle Ed Oliver said. “He might be happy to come here. You never know.”

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