The Buffalo Bills earned their first victory of 2017 at New Era Field on Thursday, with a 27-17 win over the Detroit Lions. As was customary for the fourth preseason game, both teams were extremely conservative playing their better athletes, using the game as an opportunity to evaluate the players in the depths of the roster.
Bills offensive tackle Cordy Glenn, who has had a slow recovery with lingering pain from a foot injury, made an appearance on Buffalo’s first drive for a handful of plays, his first action in quite a while. Otherwise, the team was pretty conservative with its starters. Eric Wood was replaced by Ryan Groy, and Philly Brown and Brandon Reilly immediately saw time with the “first team.”
Rookie quarterback Nate Peterman led the charge, building on a few weeks of passing the “eye test” with his first game of encouraging stats. He led the team on two scoring drives, completing 9 of 11 passes for 81 yards. He still wasn’t tested on any deep throws, but Peterman displayed great short accuracy, anticipation, and veteran savvy to draw multiple players offsides before exiting for Keith Wenning.
The Bills ground attack pounded the Lions into submission Thursday night. The team rushed for 205 yards on 45 carries (4.6 yards per carry) and three touchdowns, and the defense did its job in crucial situations to keep the Lions off the board. Rookie cornerback Greg Mabin had an end zone interception, his second of the preseason, and second year defensive end Ian Seau came on strong with two sacks, including a strip sack and fumble recovery with fewer than two minutes left to seal the win.
Crucially, by winning their final preseason game, the Bills avoided an oh-fer in August. Sure, the games don’t mean anything, but the number of teams to go winless in the preseason and make the playoffs in recent history is not pretty: In the last thirty years, 50 teams have gone 0-4 in the preseason, and only 8 of those made the playoffs.