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Detroit Lions’ comeback spoiled by Bills in preseason opener, lose 16-15

The Lions started slow, but finished (somewhat) strong.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Kimberly P. Mitchell via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The Detroit Lions’ preseason opener didn’t start as they’d hope, with the first-team offense drawing a quick three-and-out. But the Jared Goff and the offense were able to put points on the board before taking the rest of the game.

As the game went on the Lions started to get their bearings, and ultimately were able to erase a 10-point deficit and take a lead with under two minute left. The defense, unfortunately, couldn’t hold after getting the Bills into a fourth-and-10 late in the game. Ultimately, Detroit would drop their 2021 preseason opener 16-15.

Here’s a breakdown of the entire game with highlights.

First quarter

The Detroit Lions won the toss and wanted the ball first. Unfortunately, the first drive didn’t go nearly as planned. Jared Goff nearly threw an interception on the first play from scrimmage, Jamaal Williams was stuffed on second down, and Goff was sacked on third down. Yikes. Rookie Penei Sewell struggled in pass protection on the sack:

The Bills responded by running the ball four straight times. But facing a third-and-six, Mitchell Trubisky threw it at his receiver’s feet, and the Bills were forced to try a 50-yard field goal, and made it. 3-0 Bills.

The Lions offense responded with a much better drive the second time around. Though the running game still couldn’t get off the ground, the Lions efficiently picked up a couple third-and-shorts, and a third-and-7 with a 9 yard catch from Amon-Ra St. Brown. The drive was highlighted by this big pickup from Tyrell Williams.

Ultimately, the Lions stalled in the red zone, and kicker Randy Bullock was good from 28 yards. 3-3 tie.

Second quarter

The Bills continued to see some success running the ball, but the Lions were able to stop Buffalo in a short-yard situation, getting a midfield stop by Kevin Strong on a third-and-3. With the second-team offense in, Tim Boyle led Detroit to another quick three-and-out. Victor Bolden dropped a potential third-down conversion.

The Bills, led by third-string quarterback Davis Webb mounted a 15-play, 83-yard touchdown drive against the Lions’ second-string defense. Again, the Bills found some success on the ground, but Webb capped the drive with a play-action pass that led to busted coverage on Detroit’s side. Running back Devin Singletary was wide open for the easy 6-yard touchdown. 10-3 Bills.

That gave the Boyle the opportunity to run a two-minute drill to end the half. Unfortunately, the Lions couldn’t even manage a first down. They decided to get aggressive and go for it on a fourth-and-1 at their own 36-yard line, but Jermar Jefferson was stuffed, giving the Bills an opportunity to add to their lead.

Webb 13-yard draw play put the Bills into the red zone, but a pressure from Julian Okwara forced an intentional grounding. That just about put an end to the Bills’ drive, as they had to settle for a field goal. 13-3 Bills.

Third quarter

The Bills’ opening drive in the second half went nowhere thanks, in part, to Lions rookie linebacker Derrick Barnes. In coverage, Barnes closed in on tight end Jacob Hollister and made an open-field tackle for no gain. A couple plays later, the Lions sent him and rookie cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu on a blitz. Melifonwu was picked up, leaving Barnes open to pressure the quarterback, forcing a throwaway and a punt.

Tim Boyle threw an interception on the ensuing drive, but it was negated by a roughing the passer penalty that had Boyle limping after the play. He decided to stay in the game, but couldn’t pick up a first down, giving the ball back to the Bills.

Buffalo could only muster a single first down before the Lions offense took back over. Boyle led the Lions on a successful drive as the third quarter came to an end. Running back Dedrick Mills kept the drive alive with an impressive fourth-down run. He avoided the tackle for loss, broke another tackle and picked up 20 yards, setting the Lions up in the red zone.

Fourth quarter

Boyle suffered another roughing of the passer penalty on a big hit. But Detroit’s offense could not take advantage. An illegal chop block moved the Lions back 15 yards, and Boyle couldn’t get them out of the hole. The Lions ended up settling for a field goal and Randy Bullock was good from 27 yards out. 13-6 Bills.

The Lions defense forced a three-and-out thanks to a third-down sack split between Bruce Hector and Robert McCray.

David Blough took over at quarterback with just 10:51 remaining in the game. This drive was all about newly-added running back Craig Reynolds. Signed just a day ago, Reynolds showed nice evasive skills with a 10-yard run, then followed it up with this electric 24-yard touchdown run.

Detroit went for two to avoid the tie but failed to convert. 13-12 Bills.

Though the Bills were driving to extend their lead, Julian Okwara—still in the game late—picked up a third down blitz to end the threat.

Victor Bolden muffed the ensuing punt, but rookie cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu bailed him out with the recovery.

Blough kicked off the drive with an impressive 35-yard bomb to undrafted rookie Javon McKinley.

Out of the two-minute warning, Blough found a wide-open Tom Kennedy for a big 29-yard gain, and suddenly the Lions were in field goal position with the ball at the 15-yard line and 1:52 left in the game. The Lions weren’t able to advance the ball further and only burned an additional 14 seconds off the clock, but Randy Bullock was good from 28 yards, and the Lions took their first lead of the game. 15-13 Lions.

The Lions nearly forced a four-and-out to close the game, but Jake Fromm connected with Marquez Stevenson for a 42-yard bomb on fourth-and-10 to put the Bills in Lions territory. Tyler Bass would convert on a 44-yard field goal to give the Bills the lead with just 15 seconds left. 16-15 Bills.