The final game of the preseason is never expected to entertaining, mainly because most starters don't play for very long or at all. Last night was no exception, as the Lions beat the Bills 17-6 in a game that was fairly boring. It did have a few exciting moments, though, including a few Matthew Stafford passes to Calvin Johnson and an 80-yard touchdown run by Tristan Davis. Had it not been for some untimely penalties, there would have been a couple more exciting plays that actually counted.
- The Lions' defense struggled at the start of the game's opening drive but got things turned around just in time to force a Bills punt.
- Matthew Stafford came out with his back up against the goal line, as the Lions started their first drive from the 8-yard line. Aveion Cason gave the offense some breathing room by running for 7 yards, but that gain was balanced out by a sack on the next play for a loss of 7 yards. No blocking pretty much left Stafford with no options and led to the sack. On 3rd and 10, Stafford had time to throw and delivered a perfect pass to Calvin Johnson for a gain of 37. Johnson got past the Bills player covering him and Stafford put it in his arms with a perfect throw. This almost became a touchdown pass, as Johnson got by the only defender that could stop him, but he stepped out of bounds in the process.
Another Stafford to Johnson connection led to a 19-yard gain when a Bills cornerback fell down. Then, on the very next play, Stafford found Johnson again, this time in the end zone for what should have been a 34-yard touchdown. Instead, holding was called on Daniel Loper, negating the touchdown and yet another perfect pass by Stafford. He lobbed it down the field and put it right where only Johnson, who was covered by two Bills defenders, could get it.
The Lions moved the chains once after the holding penalty, but this drive came to an end rather quickly when Aaron Maybin blew by Jeff Backus and hit Stafford's arm to force a fumble. Stafford got his hands on the ball after it came loose, but he was in too awkward of a position to really fight for it, and the Bills recovered.
- The Bills started to move the ball effectively until they got a couple penalties. Eventually it became 3rd and 24 thanks to the penalties, giving the Bills a lot of ground to make up. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick completed a pass that was only good for a gain of 9, but that was the least of the Bills' problems on this play. Jordon Dizon came in and forced a fumble that was recovered by Chris Roberson, giving the Lions the ball near midfield.
- This next drive got off to a great start, as the Lions converted on third down with a pass to Casey FitzSimmons and again moved the chains on the next play with an amazing run by Maurice Morris. In reality he didn't do a whole lot of running, but the play was amazing for a different reason. Morris got hit after only a yard or two and suddenly there was a big pile of players around him. Somehow this pile kept moving forward and by the time Morris went down he had gained 11 yards. This put the Lions down around the Bills' 30 and made it look like they were on the verge of having a successful drive.
- That successful drive never happened, as this one ended just like the first one -- with a turnover. Matthew Stafford was picked off thanks to Keary Colbert falling down. That gave the defender an easy interception and a big return that was stopped by Stafford at the Lions' 27.
- The Bills were unable to move the ball outside of a couple Lions penalties and were forced to attempt a field goal. It was only from 33 yards away, but Rian Lindell pushed it wide right, giving the Lions a break after the turnover.
- After already making a nice catch to move the chains on third down, Casey FitzSimmons went up and grabbed a high pass for another first down, or so we thought. The Bills challenged the play, saying he didn't make the catch, and after the review the officials sided with Buffalo. The reception was ruled an incomplete pass and the Lions drive stalled after the ruling.
- The two teams traded punts on the next couple of drives. (Brooks Bollinger took over for the Lions at this point.)
- The Lions got another turnover when Chris Roberson picked off a pass and returned it to Detroit's 45. Roberson had a great game in general, and this interception was especially nice.
- Dane Looker drew a pass interference on third down and then made a nice catch near the sideline to move the chains again. This set the Lions up for at least a field goal before the half, but thanks to Aveion Cason's best run as a Lion that I can ever remember, Detroit ended up on the 5. Cason had a big hole and broke a couple tackles for a gain of 23. After an incomplete pass and another interference call, the Lions had the ball on the 1-yard line. Jerome Felton was stuffed on first down, and Cason was unable to get into the end zone on a toss on second down. Finally on third down, Felton got the handoff from the fullback position and got into the end zone for a touchdown. The Lions led 7-0 at halftime.
- The Lions opened the second half with another promising drive that would end because of a turnover. Aaron Brown made his first appearance and ran for 15 yards. After a holding call made it 2nd and 16 a couple plays later, Brown got the ball and ran for 17 yards to again move the chains. Brooks Bollinger then threw a great pass downfield to Adam Jennings, who took it out of the air for a gain of 39. Three plays later, the Lions had a shot at scoring another touchdown when Bollinger threw a pass to Keary Colbert in the end zone. The pass was a little bit behind Colbert, who ended up knocking it into the air, allowing it to be intercepted. I can understand dropping the pass, but there is no excuse for basically creating an interception.
- The Bills finally got something going after the two teams both went three and out. The no huddle seemed to give the Lions' defense problems on this drive, though they eventually stepped it up and forced Buffalo to kick a field goal. Rian Lindell made it this time (from 24 yards), but it was good that the Lions kept Buffalo out of the end zone (thanks mainly to a couple of good plays by Cletis Gordon in coverage).
- Aaron Brown showed off his skills with a 23-yard run a few plays into the Lions' next drive, but a holding penalty on Milford Brown had it called back. This eventually led to it being 4th and 10 on the Lions' 39, which is when Detroit decided to use some trickery. The punt was snapped directly to Marquand Manuel, who was an up-back. He ran for 20 yards and picked up the first down, catching the Bills completely off guard.
- The Lions got the ball into field goal range after a 5-yard run by Brown and an 11-yard reception by Dan Gronkowski, but that was pretty much it for this drive. Billy Cundiff came out and kicked a 32-yard field goal to make this a 7-point game yet again.
- Following back-to-back three and outs, the Bills cut into the lead with a 48-yard field goal by Rian Lindell. The field goal came after a 44-yard gain on a pass that was the result of poor coverage. The Bills didn't do squat after the big pass (they actually lost a yard on a run and had two incompletions), so it was a nice recovery by the Lions.
- Kevin O'Connell came into the game and didn't have to do anything except hand the ball off to be part of a scoring drive. Tristan Davis took the ball on the first and only play of the drive and made a cut to the left. He ran past one defender and suddenly sprinted by everyone for an 80-yard touchdown. He showed off some great speed on the play and essentially clinched a win for the Lions.
- The Bills did drive down the field and had a shot at scoring a touchdown, but Ramzee Robinson intercepted a fade pass in the end zone to end Buffalo's nearly 6-minute long drive with a turnover.
- O'Connell came back out and took two kneel downs to end the game and clinch the Lions' a 17-6 win.
The regular season is just over a week away for the Lions. They head to New Orleans to take on the Saints in Week 1 of the season on September 13. The game will get underway at 1 p.m. on FOX, and you can bet the excitement for football that actually counts will be through the roof over the next week or so. Until the anticipation really starts to mount, however, there is some business to take care of. The final round of roster cuts will be made on Saturday, letting us know who will be on the 53-man roster. The Lions will then scour the list of players released to see if there is anyone worth bringing in. At that point the roster will probably be changed up a bit again before being finalized in time for the Saints game.