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Buffalo Bills 24, Detroit Lions 20: Rapid recap and notes

It wasn’t always a fun watch, but the Bills won this one.

The Buffalo Bills returned to Detroit for the resumption of their annual preseason head-to-head, and came out on top against the Lions, 24-20. It wasn’t a very pretty game, between penalties and injuries that made fans cringe, but the Bills put together a complete performance and continued their preseason winning streak.

After showing a more wide-open passing-centric offense in their first two games, the Bills had a much more conservative game plan against the Lions. On 24 plays from scrimmage, the starting offense threw six passes and ran the ball 18 times. Josh Allen struggled to establish a passing rhythm tonight; his best throw of the night was fumbled after the catch by Cole Beasley, and he threw a horrendous interception (which was called back by a penalty) after being flushed from the pocket on 2nd and 4.

On the bright side, the rushing attack delivered when asked. Led by Frank Gore (eight carries for 57 yards) and LeSean McCoy (six carries for 37 yards), the Bills slashed through the Lions’ defense. Isaiah McKenzie scored on a jet sweep, and Devin Singletary turned his only touch into a nine-yard touchdown.

The Bills defense held up well enough in the first half, especially considering the field position they were dealt (more on that in a minute). Matthew Stafford went 12-of-19 passing for 137 yards and a touchdown, but the Bills only allowed 13 points on seven drives.

Buffalo’s special-teams unit had a lousy day, with weak punting, a long kickoff return, a fumbled kickoff return, and buckets of penalties. In the first half, the Lions had an average drive start of the 50-yard line—aided in part by Beasley’s fumble, but mainly by the poor special teams. One bright spot was Stephen Hauschka, who ended his short dry spell with a successful field goal in the third quarter.

When the backups came in, the penalty situation only grew worse. One of the bright spots from this group was backup defensive end Darryl Johnson. He didn’t show up on the stat sheet, but continued blowing up plays and nearly came away with a sack in the third quarter. Rookie safety Jaquan Johnson forced and recovered a fumble late in the game, and backup running back T.J. Yeldon led the Bills in receiving, with three catches for 51 yards.

Injury notes

  • Starting guard Quinton Spain left the game with an ankle injury. He was seen arguing with a trainer to try and negotiate his way back into the game, but later rode a cart from the sideline into the locker room.
  • Cornerback Tre’Davious White took a spill while attempting a tackle and was slow to get up. The “quad contusion” (leg bruise) is not serious, but he was seen on the sidelines with an ice pack.
  • Cornerback Levi Wallace had the wind knocked out of him shortly before White’s injury, but that injury wasn’t considered serious.
  • On Frank Gore’s longest run of the day, he took a hard hit to his hip at the end of the play. He seemed to be alright afterward, but that ended his day.


  • The battle for wide receiver six is still on and still hot. Isaiah McKenzie only took one touch but brought it in for a TD. Duke Williams caught three passes for 15 yards and a skyscraping touchdown. Ray Ray McCloud III seems to have fallen behind those two, but had a strong set of punt returns.
  • Zay Jones was seen playing late in the second half, once Tyree Jackson had entered the game.
  • Robert Foster was also seen in the second half, as part of the second-string special-teams unit.
  • On a rookie highlight, Dawson Knox and Cody Ford had key blocks to open up Devin Singletary’s rushing touchdown.
  • This game saw 21 penalties called, including 12 against the Bills.
  • Mercifully, the game ended with a kneel down, so we could wrap it up after “only” 195 minutes.
  • The Bills moved to 3-0 on the preseason with this win.