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Lions Beat Bills 14-6 to Cap Off Undefeated Preseason

Even in the most meaningless of all 2008's meaningless games, the Lions were once again able to come out on top. With most of their starters sitting, you would think they would be at a disadvantage, but they actually weren't at all. Their opponent, the Buffalo Bills, sat all but one of their normal starters, leaving the door open for another Lions victory. Detroit did just that by beating Buffalo 14-6 in interesting fashion. The win meant that the Lions finished the preseason with a 4-0 record, which is something no other team accomplished this preseason.

After the Bills took an early 3-0 lead, Detroit caught a break thanks to a rookie mistake made by Leodis McKelvin. McKelvin went back to field a Nick Harris punt and called for a fair catch. Only problem is that he called for the fair catch at his own 5-yard line, backing the Bills up in their own territory big time. Shaun Cody made the most of the poor field position as he wrapped up the Bills' running back in the end zone for a safety. That came after the running back lost 4 yards on the play preceding the safety, which set up Cody to get the Lions 2 points.

Jason Hanson connected on a 39-yard field goal after the Lions went three and out following the free kick. Brandon Middleton returned the kick 46 yards to put the Lions in field goal range, meaning their poor drive still resulted in points. The field goal gave the Lions a very unusual lead of 5-3.

Leodis McKelvin made up for his earlier mistake a little bit with a nice 45-yard return of his own. The Bills couldn't make use of the good field position, though, as Gilbert Gardner recovered a fumble forced by Gerald Alexander. That put the Lions in decent field position and led to a TD after Orlovsky moved the ball effectively with mid-range passes. Eventually Orlovsky faked a handoff on 3rd and 1 and found fullback Jerome Felton wide open for an easy pass. Felton made the catch and ran into the end zone from 9 yards out to give the Lions a 12-3 lead.

Before the first half came to a close, Leodis McKelvin made another mental mistake as he tried to return a punt that he fielded at the 6-yard line. McKelvin went nowhere and once again the Lions defense made the most of the Bills' bad field position. Quarterback Gibran Hamdan dropped back in the shotgun and was wrapped up by Lions defensive tackle Langston Moore. Moore didn't actually bring Hamdan to the ground, but apparently the officials felt Moore wrapped him up long enough for it to be considered a tackle. Hamdan actually did get rid of the ball and found a receiver open, but the refs ruled that it was another safety. That put Detroit on top 14-3 going into the locker rooms for halftime.

The second half really was boring as the only points scored came from a Bills field goal. That got Buffalo within 8 points, but that was as close as they would get. The Lions were able to hang on to the lead and win the game 14-6. It wasn't pretty, and considering there were so few starters in the game it really meant nothing, but it's still a win and not a loss.

By going 4-0, this was the Lions' best preseason since 1993, a year when they also went undefeated (4-0-1) in the preseason and actually went on to go 10-6 in the regular season, which was good enough to win the NFC Central. Again, it's the preseason and it means nothing, but I do think we saw an improved team out there over the last few weeks. Whether or not that translates to the regular season is left to be seen, but we'll get our first real look at the Lions on September 7 when they open the season in Atlanta. It is a game that the Lions should win as Falcons rookie quarterback Matt Ryan is making his first start ever. If the Lions can get pressure on him like they have on opposing QBs in the preseason then it could be a long day for Ryan.

Kickoff for the first game of the regular season is at 1 p.m. ET on Fox. I'll have live updates in the comments section of the game thread, and throughout the next week or so I'll be getting you ready for the start of the regular season.

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After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.