It wasn’t an easy victory, but the Buffalo Bills had a successful Thanksgiving Day encounter with the Detroit Lions after placekicker Tyler Bass connected on a 45-yard field goal with 2 seconds remaining. That kick allowed the Bills to earn a 28-25 victory, their second victory at Ford Field in the last 5 days.
The road-weary Bills, who were forced to play their Week 11 home game at Ford Field against the Cleveland Browns because of a record snow storm in Buffalo, saw the Lions tie the score with 28 seconds remaining on a Michael Badgley 51-yard field goal.
Josh Allen quickly led the Bills down the field prior to the winning kick by Bass.
Allen came through with enough big plays to earn the victory for the Bills. He completed 24 of 42 passes for 253 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Isiah McKenzie caught 6 passes for 96 yards and a score, while No. 1 receiver Stefon Diggs caught 8 passes for 77 yards and 1 touchdown.
Allen was able to drive down the field in the game’s final seconds to allow the Bills to attempt a game-winning field goal. The quarterback’s ability to come through with the game on the line is the main reason he is considered one of the top players at his position in the league.
Allen’s performance is even more impressive considering he is playing with a UCL injury.
The Bills got enough from their running game to be effective, but they did not dominate in that area. Allen was the most productive performer as he gained 78 yards and scored 1 touchdown on scrambles and plays where he had the option to pass or run.
Allen has plenty of speed for a quarterback but he often runs with toughness, taking on tacklers to gain an extra yard or two when other quarterbacks might slide safely.
Devin Singletary was also effective running with the ball as he gained 72 yards on 14 carries. Buffalo’s other ball carriers were somewhat ineffective.
The Bills have given up a number of big plays through the air, most notably in Week 10 in their loss to the Minnesota Vikings. The area remained vulnerable against the Lions.
Jared Goff was able to have quite a bit of success as he completed 23 of 37 passes for 240 yards with 2 TDs and no interceptions. The Bills were able to pressure Goff at key moments throughout the game, and he was sacked twice.
The Bills had a very difficult time containing Detroit wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, who caught 9 passes for 122 yards and 1 touchdown.
The Lions had some success on the ground, largely behind the power running of Jamaal Williams, who gained 66 yards on 18 carries and pounded the ball into the end zone once.
However, the Bill rarely allowed the big play on the ground. Williams had a long run of 27 yards, but no other Detroit runner gained more than 11 yards on any rushing attempt.
Defensive tackle Ed Oliver had a huge game with 6 tackles, 1.0 sack and 1 forced fumble.
Bass kicked the game-winning field goal facing significant pressure, and that more than made up for the extra point attempt that he missed. Sam Martin averaged 49.2 yards on 4 punts, and he nailed 2 inside the 20.
The Bills gave up a long punt return to Kalif Raymond that helped set the Lions up for a 4th quarter touchdown.
If the grade was on a curve, Sean McDermott would get an A+. It was not that McDermott set a new standard for strategy, but Detroit head coach Dan Campbell mismanaged the clock and his team’s timeouts in a dreadful manner.
McDermott was solid, and there was no panic even though his team was challenged severely by a team that had won 3 games in a row. McDermott remained confident in Allen and the Bills offense to make all the plays needed. He also kept the team composed after losing pass rusher Von Miller to a knee injury.
The Bills have succeeded in back-to-back games in Detroit. One came as a result of their Week 11 game being moved as a result of the overwhelming snow storm that hit Western New York, and the other was the scheduled Thanksgiving Day game. Both of those wins came on the heels of a devastating loss to the Vikings.
The 8-3 Bills are one-half game ahead of Miami in the AFC East, and they are getting closer to top form. While they are not there yet, they have a chance to get there in Week 13 on the road December 1 against the New England Patriots.