The 2012 NFL preseason is officially over for the Detroit Lions. The Lions concluded the preseason on Thursday night with a 38-32 victory over the Buffalo Bills at home. It was a wild game that saw a lot of scoring, especially in the first quarter.
Speaking of the first quarter, the Lions actually led 28-7 after the first 15 minutes of the game. This came after they quickly went down 7-0. The Bills marched right down the field on the game's opening drive, and the Lions just couldn't stop them. Ryan Fitzpatrick connected with Stevie Johnson on a fade for a four-yard touchdown over Jonte Green to put them on top 7-0.
The Lions responded by quickly going down the field and scoring a touchdown of their own. Mikel Leshoure made a nice play on third-and-three by juking a defender and going for 33 yards on a catch. Later, Matthew Stafford connected with Calvin Johnson, who was covered by two defenders, for a 24-yard touchdown.
The Lions got the ball back on the ensuing kickoff when Reshard Langford recovered a fumble forced by Ashlee Palmer and Amari Spievey. Two plays later, with mainly backups now in the game for Detroit, Leshoure scored a touchdown from two yards out.
The Lions continued piling on after a Bills three-and-out. They got good field position thanks to a 30-yard punt return by Patrick Edwards, and it only took Shaun Hill and company six plays to go 40 yards. He scored on fourth-and-goal from the one on a quarterback sneak and actually ended up losing his helmet in a skirmish after the play. He emerged from the pile with the ball and emphatically spiked it to celebrate the score.
Two plays into Buffalo's next drive, Tyler Thigpen threw a bad pass right at Green. Green redeemed himself for the bad coverage on the Bills' earlier touchdown by picking off Thigpen and returning the interception 23 yards for a touchdown. Suddenly the Lions led 28-7 in what was quite a turn of events in the first quarter.
The Bills started chipping away at the Lions' lead in the second quarter when they blocked a 35-yard field goal attempt by Jason Hanson. Leodis McKelvin got a great jump and blew right past Will Heller to block the kick, and the Bills proceeded to go down the field and get a 30-yard field goal, making it a 28-10 game.
The Bills continued chipping away at the Lions' lead in the third quarter. On their first offensive possession of the second half, Buffalo put together a seven-play, 54-yard touchdown drive. Following a three-and-out by the Lions, the Bills went 47 yards in only four plays to add another touchdown. The Lions' pass defense was struggling big time, allowing the Bills to make it a four-point game.
The Lions tried to respond with a field goal on their next drive, but Hanson pushed a 51-yard attempt just wide left. He did convert a 39-yard attempt on Detroit's next drive, though. This made it 31-24 in favor of the Lions, but their seven-point advantage didn't last for long. On the ensuing kickoff, the Lions were flagged for being offside. On the second kickoff, the Bills took it back 100 yards for a touchdown. The great string of plays by the coverage unit came to an end, and after converting a two-point conversion, the Bills now were up by a score of 32-31.
Needing a scoring drive to retake the lead, Kellen Moore led the Lions down the field with passes of 15, 16, 27 and seven yards. This put the Lions at the five-yard line, and Joique Bell appeared to score the go-ahead touchdown. The play was reviewed and overturned, however, putting the ball at the one-yard line. On the very next play, Moore faked a handoff for a perfect bootleg and scored for a one-yard touchdown. The Lions were now back on top, 38-32.
On the next two drives, the teams traded punts. Buffalo took over in Detroit territory with 6:35 to go after a 20-yard punt return. The defense held the Bills to fourth down, but Buffalo decided to go for it. Tarvaris Jackson threw a pass deep and it was picked off by Amari Spievey, giving Detroit the ball back at its six-yard line.
The Lions weren't able to run out the clock, so the Bills got the ball back with one last chance to retake the lead and win the game. Their hopes of doing just that were looking up after a string of completions, but Thigpen, who returned to play quarterback on this series, was picked off at the Lions' 14-yard line. Justin Miller got the pick, which was set up by Everette Brown getting a hand on Thigpen.
The interception allowed the Lions to simply take a knee and run out the clock, giving them a 38-32 victory. The Lions finished the preseason with a 2-2 record and can now set their sights on the regular season. Of course, before that happens the Lions will have to cut down their roster to 53 players, and that process will take place on Friday.