If you were hoping for some sort of miracle playoff run for the Detroit Lions, they died on the cold field in suburban New York Sunday afternoon. The Lions offense continued to struggle as they dropped a frustratingly ugly game against the Buffalo Bills, 14-13. Here’s how it happened.
The Bills offense kicked things off, and for a while it looked like Josh Allen would get on the board first. With some mild success on the ground, Buffalo worked their way into field position. However, a third-down sack by Devon Kennard push the Bills back, and they decided to punt it away to the Lions.
With Zach Zenner starting as the lead back, the Lions failed to respond with a score. A 20-yard pass to Kenny Golladay got them near midfield, but a third-down pass to TJ Jones came up a couple yards sort and Detroit punted the ball back to Buffalo.
As the first quarter drew to a close, the Bills couldn’t do much with their second possession of the game. A big Jarrad Davis tackle for loss put the Bills behind the chains. Allen probably threw an interception on third down, but the refs ruled Glover Quin out of bounds and Matt Patricia did not challenge.
Close enough I would’ve challenged pic.twitter.com/dfkWZROVrT— Erik Schlitt (@erikschlitt) December 16, 2018
Kenny Golladay kicked the second quarter off with a huge play. With Tre’Davious White all over, him Golladay hauled in a 31-yard catch despite a defensive pass interference penalty. From there, Theo Riddick got the Lions into the red zone with a couple of good run plays, and then Matthew Stafford found Andy Jones in the endzone for the first touchdown of the young receiver’s career. The PAT snap was botched, so there was no extra point attempt. 6-0 Lions.
But Allen and the Bills would quickly respond. Picking on Mike Ford, who allowed a big completion then was called for a long pass interference penalty, Allen quickly got Buffalo into the red zone. From there Allen would deke Jarrad Davis out of his shoes and beat the rest of the Lions to the edge for 3-yard touchdown run. 7-6 Bills.
Suddenly the Lions and Bills found themselves in a shootout, and Kenny Golladay was the man with the biggest gun. Golladay pulled in impressive catches for 24 and 40 yards, putting Detroit in scoring position.
From there, Zach Zenner punched it in, giving the Lions the lead again. The Lions would convert the extra point this time. 13-7 Lions.
The teams would slow down from there, as the Bills offense couldn’t go anywhere, and the Lions had yet another failed two-minute drill following an unsuccessful draw on third-and-2. Detroit would end the half with that 13-7 lead and the ball coming their way in the second half.
Detroit offense didn’t score on the opening drive, but they did move the ball downfield with a couple of good plays from Zach Zenner. Sam Martin capped the drive with a punt that pinned the Bills down at their own 11-yard line.
The Bills were able to get to midfield while successfully pounding the football against the Lions defensive front, but the drive stalled after a couple of incomplete passes. The Lions would take over at their own 10-yard line. However, they would quickly go three-and-out after failing to convert another third-and-short.
The Bills would take over from their own 36-yard line, and it looked like they would take advantage. A big 31-yard strike to Robert Foster looked to be out of bounds, but officials ruled his left foot was down inbounds and the call was upheld upon replay. However, the Lions defense held up strong in the red zone and the Bills made a risky play going for it on third and short. A’Shawn Robinson would stop a scrambling Josh Allen, and Detroit took over on downs.
Detroit moved their way to midfield as the game turned over to the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately, Detroit would only go backwards after that. Zenner caught a screen for -5 yards and Stafford would just miss TJ Jones for a big gain on third down. Martin would send the ensuing punt bouncing into the endzone.
The Lions defense would force a quick punt and a big punt return from Quandre Diggs had Detroit’s offense in good field position, but a penalty on the punt pushed them inside their own 20. An ugly three-and-out gave the Bills the ball back with good field position.
After a questionable pass interference call on Slay, Allen finally connected on a big play. He found Foster for a 42-yard touchdown with Mike Ford trailing a couple yards behind in coverage. 14-13 Bills.
Stafford was able to work the Lions offense quickly into field goal position with a long gain to Golladay, but Detroit’s offense completely stalled when they got to the Bills’ 30-yard line. A rare miss from Matt Prater at 48 yards out kept the Lions down a point with only 5:50 left to go.
Detroit’s defense would stand tall, giving the offense the ball after a quick three and out. It was up to Stafford, from his own 30-yard line with 4:41 left to get more points on the board. But the Lions offense refused to push the ball downfield and quickly went three-and-out yet again.
They would need another defensive stop and they would not get it. A play-action pass over Glover Quin’s head got the Bills to midfield, and another first down allowed Buffalo to run out the clock and Detroit’s miniscule chances at the postseason.
There are only three games left in the Detroit Lions 2018 regular season. While many fans seem to live for the offseason, I am not one of those people. I cherish each week of the NFL, no matter how “meaningless” the games are or how poor the matchup looks on paper.
So while there isn’t a ton to get excited about when the Detroit Lions head to Buffalo to take on the Bills this week, it is Lions football. And without a doubt Lions Football > no Lions Football.
That may be a low bar to set, but that’s just math. It’s irrefutable. Don’t @ me.
This week, the Lions are pretty beat up heading into Week 15 and some key players—including Da’Shawn Hand, Bruce Ellington, Rick Wagner and Kerryon Johnson—have already been ruled out. But the Bills are one of the worst teams in the league, especially on offense.
Detroit beat a team much like the Bills last week, when they won in Arizona for the first time in 25 years. The Lions haven’t won in Buffalo since 1991. Will they put another long drought to be this week? Here’s how to watch:
How to watch Lions-Bills
Date: Sunday, December 16, 2018
Time: 1 p.m. ET
Location: New Era Field — Orchard Park, NY
Week 15 TV Map: Courtesy of 506 Sports here
Announcers: Joe Davis, Brady Quinn, Bruce Feldman
Online streaming: Fox Sports Go, Yahoo Sports app
Local radio: WJR-AM NEWS TALK 760
Radio announcers: Dan Miller, Lomas Brown
Odds: Bills by 2.5