ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The extreme winter weather could only delay the celebration for the Buffalo Bills.

Kicking off 27-plus hours later than originally scheduled at Highmark Stadium, the Bills made up for lost time by beating the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-17, in an AFC wild-card matchup that extended Buffalo's win streak to six games.

Quarterback Josh Allen threw first-quarter touchdown passes to tight ends Dawson Knox and Dalton Kincaid, later adding a personal record 52-yard touchdown run to stake the Bills to a 21-0 lead they would not relinquish.

The Steelers, meanwhile, saw their unlikely late-season push end amid Allen's big plays and their own turnovers. Pittsburgh, which was playing without All-Pro pass rusher T.J. Watt, reached the postseason despite possessing a 4% chance of making the playoffs Dec. 22.

A look at the top storylines for both teams in Monday's matchup:

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Buffalo Bills

Dealing with a variety of defensive injuries as the Steelers got the game within one score, the ball was in quarterback Josh Allen's hands to put together a drive and pull ahead.

The Bills charged downfield, leading up to a second-and-9 play from the Steelers' 16-yard line. Allen found wide receiver Khalil Shakir in the middle of the field, and he managed to somehow find his way out of an attempted tackle by safety Minkah Fitzpatrick downfield, past other Steelers defenders and into the end zone.

The score punctuated a 31-17 win for the Bills in which the team took advantage of miscues by the Steelers and found cohesion on offense with Allen completing 21-of-30 passes for 203 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 74 yards on eight carries. It was Allen's fourth career playoff game with three passing touchdowns, passing Jim Kelly for the most in Bills postseason history. It was only the second time since Week 4 that Allen did not turn the ball over.

Next up for the Bills, who must assess the damage of a variety of defensive injuries, will be a Chiefs team led by Patrick Mahomes in his first career road playoff game.

Describe the game in two words: Step one. Winning in the wild-card round is a step in the right direction for a team with the biggest of goals, and while it wasn't a perfect performance -- the theme of the Bills' season -- a strong start led to the Bills advancing to the next round.

QB breakdown: Allen posted an impressive all-around performance, but his 52-yard record-breaking touchdown run deserves a shout-out of its own. On a third-and-8 play, Allen darted past and through defenders to score the Bills' third touchdown of the day despite safety Damontae Kazee making contact to try and bring him down. The run was the second-longest rushing touchdown by a quarterback in postseason history and the longest rushing touchdown in team postseason history.

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Pivotal play: Kaiir Elam's interception in the second quarter. The Steelers were primed to score on Pittsburgh's fifth drive of the game. Backup cornerback Elam came in during the drive for Christian Benford (knee) and was run over on a 12-yard pass to tight end Pat Freiermuth, then was called for defensive pass interference two plays later. Two plays after that, Elam redeemed himself and caught a Mason Rudolph pass in the end zone to keep the Bills up two scores and the Steelers scoreless.

Troubling trend: Defensive injuries. With the return of defensive tackle DaQuan Jones late in the season, the health of the Bills defense finally seemed to be looking up. Then starting cornerback Rasul Douglas, outside linebacker Tyrel Dodson and safety Taylor Rapp were hurt in Week 18 and missed the start to the playoffs. Then, in this game, starting middle linebacker Terrel Bernard was carted off and linebacker Baylon Spector (back) and cornerback Christian Benford (knee) both left the game with injuries. Nickel corner Taron Johnson also left to be evaluated for a head injury. With a short week, the number of defensive injuries could take a significant toll. -- Alaina Getzenberg

Next game: vs. Chiefs (6:30 p.m. ET, Sunday, Jan. 21)

Pittsburgh Steelers

Playing without NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate T.J. Watt, the Pittsburgh Steelers battled back from a 21-0 hole, but they fell short of completing the comeback in a 31-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills, ending their season in the wild-card round. The Steelers are winless in their last four playoff appearances, last winning a playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2016 divisional round.

The Steelers, playing a day later than originally scheduled because of a winter storm in the area, fell behind 14-0 after one quarter as the Steelers' mistakes compounded the Bills' dazzling playmaking. Yet, in a microcosm of their season, the Steelers didn't give up and fought to make it a one-score game early in the fourth quarter until Josh Allen and the Bills offense carved up the Steelers' depleted defense.

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With the loss, the Steelers have reached a crossroads and an offseason full of choices that could alter the course of the franchise. Will they commit to Kenny Pickett as their starter in 2024? Will Mike Tomlin, currently under contract through the 2024 season, return to the sideline in the fall? The clock on those decisions starts now.

Pivotal play: Trailing 14-0, the Steelers had their best opportunity to score from the 4-yard line early in the second quarter. Instead, they came away with zero points after Kaiir Elam picked off Mason Rudolph as Elam dove in front of Johnson in the end zone to nab the ball. On the ensuing drive, the Bills went up 21-0 on a 52-yard Josh Allen touchdown run. That the Steelers even got within a sniff of the end zone was a feat after gaining just 34 yards on their first four drives. The Steelers' fifth drive went 88 yards before Rudolph's pick.

QB breakdown: Making his fourth consecutive start -- and first of his career in the postseason -- Rudolph performed better than his stat line suggests. He completed 22 of 39 passes for 229 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, but the most impressive thing about Rudolph was the poise he showed in high-pressure moments.

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Multiple times, Rudolph stood tall in the face of pressure, delivering strikes from the pocket as the Bills pass rush closed in. In the third quarter, Rudolph climbed the pocket, dancing away from pressure, and threw across his body to hit George Pickens over the middle for a 19-yard gain on third-and-long. He capped that drive with a seven-yard touchdown to Calvin Austin to make it a one-score game late in the fourth quarter.

Rudolph's confident and consistent play puts the Steelers in an awkward position. A new offensive coordinator is atop the list of Steelers' offseason priorities, but did Rudolph do enough to challenge Pickett for the starting job? Does Rudolph, not under contract for 2024, want to return to Pittsburgh or go somewhere else where he has a better shot at a starting job?

Silver lining: Rookie outside linebacker Nick Herbig has the makings of the next Steelers' defensive star. WIth Watt out, Herbig had a bigger than usual role on the defense, but his most impressive play came on special teams when he hustled down the field to recover a field goal blocked by Montravius Adams. Thanks to Herbig's heads-up play, the Steelers got their first points of the day on a short-field drive capped by a 10-yard Rudolph to Diontae Johnson touchdown just before halftime. -- Brooke Pryor