The Detroit Lions gave the Buffalo Bills everything they could. They even scored the game-tying drive with 23 seconds left to push for overtime. However, quarterback Josh Allen was able to use those few seconds to quickly drive the Bills down field with a 39-yard strike to Stefon Diggs.
A few plays later, the Bills would dash the Lions’ upset hopes with a 45-yard field goal to win the ballgame 28-25.
It was a tough battle, and the Lions even held the lead midway through the fourth quarter, but the Bills proved to be just too much for Detroit. The Lions moved to 4-7 with the disappointing loss and the Bills to 8-3.
Here’s how it happened.
The Detroit Lions got the ball first, but they would give it up quickly after two incomplete passes by Jared Goff, including a deep shot to DJ Chark that didn’t have much of a shot at completing. But the Lions defense quickly got a three-and-out themselves, after a drop from Stefon Diggs and pressure forced Josh Allen out of the pocket on third-and-long.
The Lions had a scare on the punt return, as Kalif Raymond fumbled the ball, but James Houston—playing in his first NFL game—came up huge with the recovery, keeping the ball with Detroit at their own 39-yard line.
Detroit would pick up the first conversion of the game with a Jamaal Williams run up the middle on a third-and-1. A 16-yard quick pass to DJ Chark got the Lions inside Buffalo’s 30-yard line. Detroit converted a clutch third-and-9 with a slant to Amon-Ra St. Brown down to the Bills 14-yard line. The Lions then faced a fourth-and-1 at the 5-yard line, and while they picked it up, the Bills were offsides and the Lions took the penalty. On the next play, Jamaal Williams punched it in from the 2-yard line to give Detroit a 7-0 Lions lead.
The Bills offense started to get things moving. Josh Allen found Gabe Davis for a 16-yard strike, and then Devin Singletary picked up a third-and-1. Allen caught the Lions in undisciplined rush lanes and rushed up the middle for a 21-yard gain down to the Lions’ 23-yard line. Then on third-and-6, Allen lobbed a perfect pass over Will Harris’ head into the waiting arms of Isaiah McKenzie for the game-tying touchdown. 7-7.
The Lions were able to pick up yet another third-and-long, after Goff found St. Brown, who absorbed a big hit to pick up 13 to finish off the first quarter.
After a failed trick play, the Lions picked up another first down on a nice screen pass to Justin Jackson, moving Detroit onto the Bills side of the field. But Williams fumbled the football a few plays later, and Ed Oliver recovered to give Buffalo the ball at their own 42-yard line.
After a couple of first downs, the Bills hit a big play on the ground, as Singletary broke a tackle for a 19-yard gain down to the 11-yard line. Allen then scrambled for 7, and the Bills took the lead after Allen fumbled the snap and juked his way into the end zone. 14-7 Bills.
The Lions got a little risky on the next possession, going for it on fourth-and-1 from their own 33-yard line. Williams, though, picked it up. Detroit then picked up 22 yards on a sneaky throwback to rookie tight end James Mitchell, setting up the Lions in the red zone for the second time on the day. Detroit ran a draw play to D’Andre Swift on third-and-3 and appeared to have scored, but replay officials ruled him down at the 2.5-yard line, setting the Lions up first-and-goal from there. That almost turned out to be a huge overturn, but the Lions dialed up the aggression again on fourth-and-goal, and a play action pass fooled the Bills and left a wide-open St. Brown to tie the score up at 14-14.
On that drive, Bills pass rusher Von Miller suffered a significant knee injury and was ruled out for the rest of the game.
The Bills had 1:52 and two timeouts to re-take the lead before the half, starting at their own 25-yard line. Allen got the drive off to a huge start with a 27-yard pass to McKenzie. A third-down conversion to Diggs got them on the edge of field goal position. Another 16-yard gain from McKenzie pushed the Bills to the 20-yard line with 20 seconds left. But the Lions would hold strong thanks to a sack from rookie James Houston. Buffalo would finish the half with a 47-yard field goal to take a 17-14 Bills lead into the locker room.
The Bills got out of some early trouble on the opening drive. Facing a third-and-13, Allen found Davis for a 16-yard gain to midfield. Then on a second-and-21, Allen hit the hole in Detroit’s zone coverage, connecting with McKenzie for 30 yards. On the play, Julian Okwara appeared to suffer a serious injury to his elbow. He did not return.
The Lions appeared to get a stop to hold the Bills to a long field goal attempt, but Jerry Jacobs was called for pass interference on a ball thrown behind Diggs. That gave the Bills a first-and-goal from the 10-yard line. But the ball didn’t lie, as Malcolm Rodriguez tipped the next Allen pass and it dropped into the arms of fellow linebacker Alex Anzalone for the interception.
Detroit started the next drive at their own 8-yard line with an opportunity to re-take the lead. Unfortunately for the Lions, after a big 5-yard loss to open the drive, Goff took a sack in the end zone to give the Bills a 19-14 lead.
Buffalo quickly got to midfield on the ensuing drive thanks to a 15-yard run from Singletary. But Detroit’s defense would get off the field thanks to another sack from Houston after Aidan Hutchinson and John Cominsky had helped flush Allen out of the pocket.
To strikes to St. Brown of 13 and 25 yards quickly moved Detroit into Bills territory. Then on a third-and-1, Jamaal Williams broke it out wide for a 27-yard gain down to Buffalo’s 11-yard line.
But Detroit’s drive would stall there and they had to settle for a field goal attempt, but kicker Michael Badgley pushed the 29-yarder wide to keep the Bills up five with 1:57 left in the third quarter.
The Lions defense, though, got a quick three-and-out, and Kalif Raymond would make up the earlier special teams mistake with a huge 41-yard punt return down to Buffalo’s 35-yard line.
A pass interference on a trick play picked up 13 yards to kick off the drive, and a Justin Jackson 11-yard run closed out the quarter, giving Detroit a first-and-goal from the 10-yard line.
Two runs got the Lions down to the 1-yard line, setting up a pivotal third-and-goal. Goff fit a tight ball to DJ Chark on a play action pass and the Lions receiver hung on for the go-ahead score. Detroit went for two an Swift scampered to the outside for the conversion and a 22-19 Lions lead.
On the ensuing drive, the Bills quickly picked up a couple of first downs to get to midfield. But the Lions would force three straight incompletions from there, and the Bills would punt with 10:41 left.
The Lions kicked off the drive with a play-action pass to St. Brown for 19 to their own 28-yard line. Goff found St. Brown for another 16 on the next play. But back-to-back incomplete passes—including a disastrous near-interception—set the Lions in third-and-long and they couldn’t convert.
The Bills took over with 8:59 left and still down three points. Early in the drive, Lions cornerback Jerry Jacobs suffered an injury and went straight into the locker room. Allen responded by floating a nice pass over a Lions defender to Dawson Knox to get the Bills to midfield yet again. Slowly, the Bills chipped away, moving inside the red zone.
It looked like Detroit had backed the Bills into a third-and-10, but on second down Austin Bryant committed a devastating roughing the passer penalty, setting the Bills up first-and-goal. Two plays later, Allen found Diggs on a quick slant for a 5-yard touchdown, but the Bills missed the extra point, keeping it a three-point game. 25-22 Bills.
Down three, the Lions had 2:40 left and all three timeouts to tie or re-take the lead. Detroit moved to the 42-yard line on a nifty throwback to Swift. The Lions got to their own 46-yard line at the two minute warning. At midfield the Lions faced a fourth-and-inches, need to pick it up to continue the game. An end around to St. Brown picked it up and moved Detroit to the 42-yard line. A catch and run from St. Brown got Detroit down to the 33-yard line to set up a third-and-1. Detroit opted to go deep, but Goff missed Chark. Badgley redeemed his early miss, though, and tied it with a 51-yard field goal with 23 seconds left. 25-25 tie.
That turned out to be too much time, as Allen immediate found Diggs for 39 yards.
Allen would tack on a few more yards, and that’s all the Bills would need to kick a 45-yard game-winning kick to win the game. 28-25 Bills.