The Detroit Lions lost a tough one to the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving, falling 28-25 in a game they had a chance to win with less than a minute left.
It’s always tough to find the bright spots in a loss, but there were a couple of standout players in this game that deserves some recognition. Let’s take a look at a few of the best players in this game.
Amon-Ra St. Brown
Stat line: 9 receptions, 122 yards (career-high), 1 receiving touchdown, 1 rush, 7 yards
St. Brown has looked fully healthy for two weeks now and when the team needed plays they often turned to the Sun God. That was never more evident than on fourth downs, where St. Brown converted two, the first of which went for a touchdown:
Everyone eats‼️#BUFvsDET | CBS pic.twitter.com/0x0PKhYrIx— Detroit Lions (@Lions) November 24, 2022
The second fourth-down conversion came on the Lions’ final drive. With the game on the line, St. Brown took the handoff on an end around and turned it upfield for seven yards.
In the end result, St. Brown registered 122 receiving yards, which is a career-high for the second-year receiver.
Stat line: 2 sacks, 1 fumble recovery
Houston was activated this week due to injuries on the edge and it didn’t take long for him to make an impact on the field. After forcing a three-and-out, the Bills punted and Kalif Raymond opted for the return, but after roughly five yards, he fumbled (Kalif made up for it later) and Houston jumped on the loose ball. An important save on what could have been a big play for the Bills.
But Houston’s most impressive play came near the end of the first half. On third down, the Bills were driving looking for a late score. The Lions countered with their NASCAR package (four edge rushers) on the drive, and Austin Bryant subbed out for a breather, giving Houston his first NFL snap on defense.
#Lions rookie James Houston with a chop into an unreal dip to get his first career sack (on what I believe is his first defensive snap in the NFL) pic.twitter.com/OtPEfGnmaO— Erik Schlitt (@erikschlitt) November 24, 2022
Just a terrific sack for the rookie, showing a level of dip that can’t be taught.
Oh, but he wasn’t done. With Julian Okwara (elbow) out with an injury, the Lions needed to lean on Houston in their third-down packages. Halfway through the third quarter, Houston entered the game on third down again and got the sack to get them off the field.
The rookie said watch me do it again! #BUFvsDET | CBS pic.twitter.com/TIw9hqDPr4— Detroit Lions (@Lions) November 24, 2022
With that second sack, per the Lions PR department, Houston became the first Lions player in team history to record multiple sacks in their NFL debut.
With coaches previously saying they wanted to get a close look at Houston, and the rookie showing up in a big way, he should be in line for more opportunities moving forward.
Quick hits on other candidates
From here on out we saw a lot of players who made some terrific plays but also some big mistakes.
Jared Goff had an overall solid day. He threw for 240 yards and two touchdowns and zero turnovers. He properly called a check into the Lions 2-point conversion, which illustrated his intelligence, but when the pressure got turned up, he was too often rattled and it led to mistakes. The Lions needed him to finish the game in this one and he missed his opportunity.
Jamaal Williams registered another rushing touchdown, but also only had 66 rushing yards on 18 carries for a 3.7 per carry average. He also had an unfortunate fumble of the football.
DJ Chark scored a big touchdown to give the lions the lead in the fourth quarter, but he only caught two passes on the day (16 yards) and had a miscommunication on the Lions' 3rd-and-1 play on the final drive.
Kalif Raymond had a stellar 41-yard punt return that set up the Chark touchdown and caught four passes for 35 yards, but he also fumbled his first punt return on the day.
Isaiah Buggs had some impressive pass rushing flashes, taking advantage of the Bills’ backup interior line, but he was also lacking against the run and far too often allowed easy runs up the middle.
Alex Anzalone was flying around the field at times and his interception came at a critical juncture, but he also looked completely lost on Bills quarterback Josh Allen’s touchdown run.
Mike Hughes made some of his best plays in coverage during his time as a Lion, but he also struggled to stick with Stefon Diggs in man coverage and occasionally ran himself out of position.
Jerry Jacobs is aggressive and willing to put himself on the line to make a play—sometimes to his own detriment, as he exited early with a possible concussion—but he also got penalized for pass interference, again. Jacobs lives with his hand on the receiver, and most of the time, referees give him the leeway to do that. But on other occasions, it provides the referee an opportunity to make that PI call.
Alright, time to vote. Choose from one of my options or vote “other” and tell me where I’m wrong in the chat:
Who should get the Lions Week 12 Game Ball?
This poll is closed
Amon-Ra St. Brown