the buffalo bills had to overcome jet lag from two round-trip trips to Detroit in four days, as well as an energetic Lions team on a three-game winning streak, but they survived the game with a 28-25 victory on a last-second goal. of Tyler Bass field. . Although it looked like the team ran out of fuel in the third quarter, when they punted three straight times and gave up the lead to the Lions, the Bills found a second wind when it counted the most and emerged victorious.
Although both teams started the game with back-to-back three-and-out drives, the two offenses heated up from there. For the Lions, a 12-play, 61-yard drive took nearly 6 1/2 minutes of the first quarter, mixing up runs and short passes before Jamaal Williams ran in from left tackle for a 2-yard touchdown run. The Bills responded with their own TD drive, set up by a 21-yard run from Josh Allen that put them in the red zone. Allen hit Isaiah McKenzie on a deep cross to tie the game at seven apiece.
On Detroit’s ensuing drive, the Bills forced a turnover: Ed Oliver was part of a Bills team that tackled Williams in the backfield, and when the ball flew free, Oliver dove on the fumble and recovered it for Buffalo. Buffalo mixed six runs and four short passes on another touchdown drive, which ended with a minor mishap: Allen fumbled over the middle, but when he got the ball back, the unexpected fumble knocked enough defenders out of position to open up a lane. of scramble. the middle towards the end zone.
Trailing 14-7, the Lions attacked the Bills aggressively in the second quarter. Dan Campbell kept his drive up the field on fourth-and-1 from his own 33-yard line, and the gamble paid off with a first-down conversion. The Lions carried that momentum all the way to the goal line, where they faced another fourth and one. Campbell called on a fast pass play that scored a touchdown to tie the game.
Detroit left enough time on the clock for a two-minute drill from the Bills, and while Allen had some early success with some deep passes from the sideline, the Lions shut him down once the team reached the red zone. The teams left at halftime with Buffalo leading 17-14 after Tyler Bass’ field goal shot.
After halftime, the Bills offense ran out of gas in another pathetic third quarter. Although his first drive reached the Detroit 10-yard line, Allen threw an interception when his pass was deflected down the line, killing the drive.
Buffalo’s defense made a great stoppage on the next possession: a tackle for loss, an incompletion and a safe sack by Oliver that gave them a 19-14 lead. But none of that excitement carried over to the Bills’ offense, which they would punt on three straight drives, totaling 32 yards gained on those three drives. The Lions couldn’t avoid their own mistakes, with a long drive ending with a field goal attempt, but in the final minute of the third quarter, Kalif Raymond returned a punt 41 yards to spark his team’s offense. One pass interference penalty later, the Lions were at the 22-yard line, and it didn’t take much more effort for them to beat the Bills and take the lead back.
Finally, the Bills worked out their woes well enough to put together another scoring drive in the fourth quarter. It was an impressive 14-play, 80-yard drive that featured standout runs and the resurgence of Stefon Diggs, who had been nearly invisible throughout the game as Allen overcame accuracy issues and exceptional pressure throughout three quarters. Diggs caught the touchdown pass to give the Bills a 25-22 lead, but as Tyler Bass aimed to make it 26-22, his extra-point kick hooked too far left and that left the game within 1-2. three points.
With 2:40 complete and three timeouts remaining, the Lions had plenty of time to pull out the win (or force overtime). They moved 22 yards on their first three plays, and even when the Bills had a turnover tackle on the next play, the Lions were able to gain enough yards to set up a pivotal fourth-and-one. Campbell made a great play with a receiver handoff that gained seven yards, but the Lions ultimately couldn’t execute the remaining passes to secure a win. They had a chance when DJ Chark led off deep, but he and Jared Goff weren’t on the same page at the pitch. Lions kicker Michael Badgley redeemed his earlier mistake with a 51-yard pass to tie the game, but the Bills had 23 seconds and three timeouts to try to regain the lead.
Allen came out and ripped a 36-yard frozen string to (who else but) Diggs, immediately putting the Bills on the cusp of field goal range. The strategic use of timeouts, along with two QB runs that gained 12 yards, set up Bass for his own redemption arc. He made the 45-yard field goal to seal the victory for the Bills.
The Bills, at 8-3, are temporarily back in sole possession of first place in the AFC East. The stage is set for the final third of their season: They win their divisional games and are in the playoffs (and probably with a very high seed).
- Von Miller left the game in the second quarter after a Lions defender landed on the back of his right leg and rolled it up. He was classified as having a knee injury, and early projections indicated it could be a sprained MCL, but Miller will undergo an MRI to confirm the severity.
- Dion Dawkins hurt his right ankle early in the third quarter. David Quessenberry stepped in at left tackle and Dawkins was listed as questionable to return to the game.
- Josh Allen became the first quarterback to win in all three Thanksgiving time slots with today’s victory. He beat the Cowboys in 2019 and then crushed the Saints last year.
- In the third quarter, Ed Oliver sacked Jared Goff for a safety to put the Bills up 19-14. He was Buffalo’s first safety since 2019, when browns QB Baker Mayfield was sacked in his own end zone. For Detroit, it was his first safety since 2014.
- Oliver wasn’t chosen as one of the stars of the game, but he deserved the honor. He had six tackles, a sack that led to a safety, two TFLs, two QB hits and a fumble recovery. He stepped up when Miller couldn’t play.
- Somehow, Isaiah McKenzie ended up as a key focal point today, scoring ten times and catching six for 96 yards and a touchdown. He gave the Bills some early life on offense.
- Stefon Diggs finished the first half with two receptions for 15 yards on five targets. But he and Allen got back on the same page late in the game, as Diggs finished with a team-high eight catches on 15 targets, racking up 77 yards and a touchdown.
- The Bills defense handed a 27-yard run to Jamaal Williams, but overall held Detroit to 96 gain yards on 28 rushing attempts.
- The passing game, on the other hand, was still problematic. Amon Ra St. Brown caught nine of 10 targets for 122 yards and a touchdown. Jared Goff had a 98.9 passer rating that day.
- Jim Nantz did his best to avoid a curse, but to no avail: In the third quarter, with the Lions lined up for a field goal, he shared how the Lions kicker hadn’t missed a kick this season. So, of course, Michael Badgley deflected his field goal attempt wide left.
- Badgley wasn’t the only kicker to suffer from the commentator’s curse today. He fell behind, but after Nantz brought up Tyler Bass’ perfect extra-point streak, Bass missed an extra-point kick that would have given the Bills a four-point lead late in the fourth quarter.
It’s time for the first of two Bills-Patriots games on the schedule! The Patriots will host the Bills on Thursday Night Football, and in a strange quirk of the schedule, both teams will have seven days off, because both teams are playing today. The Patriots are 6-4 at press time, having cruised to a 10-3 victory against the Jets on Sunday with a last-minute punt return touchdown run.