As college football kicked off across the nation, the NFL played their final preseason tilts. The Buffalo Bills came to Ford Field as coaches tried to glean what they could from their rosters, determining who would stay and who would be out of town come Saturday's roster cut deadline.
As noted in the inactives, the starters did indeed sit for the game, and Lions fans were greeted to Dan Orlovksy for the first quarter. The first drive was three and out, but on the punt return, Quandre Diggs laid a massive hit on Tobias Palmer. The defense looked unsteady early as Cierre Woods caught a screen pass, and despite the play being read, managed to elude Lions' defenders en route to a first down. The Bills' offense stalled, however, and when they decided to go for it on fourth and two, they fumbled the ball. The Lions took over on their own 45 yard line.
The first score came as Orlovsky threw high to Jeremy Ross, who brought the ball down with him... only to have it bounce off his body, ricocheting into the air and right into the hands of Bills' cornerback, Ron Brooks. Brooks ran it back 81 yards to give Buffalo the first score of the game.
Greg Salas injured his knee during the proceedings of the first quarter and would be later taken to the locker room. As this went on, Kellen Moore took over for Orlovsky with a few minutes remaining in the first quarter. By the time the second quarter arrived, Zach Zenner, preseason darling, had two carries for negative six yards total. When the second quarter began, Moore threw a short pass and Matt Prater kicked a 41-yard field goal.
Meanwhile, the line got blown up at least once by Andre Fluellen:
Welp, I have my preseason game Vine of the night, courtesy of Andre Fluellen. https://t.co/AmUkqNR2lD— Chris Trapasso (@ChrisTrapasso) September 4, 2015
A shining play for the Moore in the second quarter came when he took inside pressure from two Bills and threw the ball to Jeremy Ross, who backpedaled to make the catch. Later in the quarter, Moore found TJ Jones on the slant route. Jones took the ball 52 yards into the endzone for a Lions touchdown. Jones took the ball 52 yards into the endzone for a touchdown. By the time the half ended, the score was tied 10-10.
In the second half the Lions spent some time looking at some players you will definitely see on the roster. Tahir Whitehead played late in the game against the Buffalo offense. Kyle Van Noy, coming off injury, looked like his old self, shining as he brought pressure and made plays. Buffalo lined up for a field goal with six and a half minutes remaining in the third, but their kicker put it directly off the upright. On the next drive Zach Zenner finally got a 15-yard rushing strike in, capturing some desperately needed numbers. In the dying seconds, Bills quarterback Matt Simms got pressure and threw the football backwards a good 10 yards or so and Kerry Hyder grabbed it.
OH GOD MATT SIMMS NO pic.twitter.com/gtbnQAbemp— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) September 4, 2015
In the fourth quarter, Jim Caldwell went for it on fourth down and inches. Jeremy Ross would be tackled short for the first down, but a flag for offsides on Buffalo's IK Enemkpali gave the Lions a fresh set of downs. The next play, on the three yard line, Zenner finally got his chance to shine again and punched the ball in for a touchdown to give Detroit the lead. The Bills would have one final chance with a minute and change to go, but the Matt Simms pass would be deflected on 4th down. Buffalo turned it over on downs and Moore would kneel the ball twice to end the game.
The whole of the game found itself fairly forgettable on a night where almost no starters played and more than a few Lions fans might have been distracted with the start of the college football season. However, it is to be recognized as the final marker of the preseason. From here, the next time we write about recapping a game, it will be the NFL season proper. Small miracles.