“Well we gave up two touchdowns there early in the ball game and fought back,” said head coach Chan Gailey. “I was impressed with a lot of things that happened. The defense stiffened a couple of times, not quite enough, but a couple of times. The biggest problem were the penalties on defense and giving up some big plays on third down. And then offensively Tyler (Thigpen) had his hand hit twice for interceptions. We can’t have that kind of penetration in there on those situations.”
The big positive to start the game was Buffalo’s starting offense got the drive they were looking for to close out the preseason.
“We wanted to start fast and put some points on the board,” said Fitzpatrick. “It was good to get into the end zone and spread the ball around a little bit and let everyone touch it.”
“We came out and looked pretty good,” said Stevie Johnson. “Donald had a few catches. The line blocked good. C.J. produced some big runs and everything was going smooth. We were clicking. We just have to make sure that rolls over into next week.”
The 11-play 83-yard drive took more than six and a half minutes off the clock staking the Bills to an early 7-0 lead.
“It made us feel good,” said head coach Chan Gailey. “Executed all the way down the field. We challenged them to go execute on one drive and they did it.”
The first team defense wasn’t as successful. After a missed tackle in the flat led to a 33-yard pass play for the Lions and moved the ball into Buffalo territory, a 15-yard facemask penalty pushed the ball to the Bills 24-yard line. Two plays later Matthew Stafford hit Calvin Johnson in the back of the end zone for a 24-yard scoring strike to tie the score (7-7).
“We let two long plays out of there, again, defensively,” said Gailey. “Two long plays on third down. We have to avoid those.”
On the ensuing kick return
After a three-and-out by Buffalo’s second team offense, Detroit was the beneficiary of great field position off a 30-yard return by Patrick Edwards to the Bills 40-yard line. The Lions’ second unit got a big play with Shaun Hill hitting Ryan Broyles for a 26-yard pass play to set up first-and-goal at the four. Hill would then sneak it in on 4th-and-goal for a one-yard touchdown and a 21-7 edge with a minute left in the opening quarter.
“We were really short-handed,” said Gailey with only three cornerbacks for the last three and a half quarters of the game. “We couldn’t play any of our nickel stuff. I felt sorry for Dave (Wannstedt) because he couldn’t play any nickel hardly. He’s trying to match up on their three wides with linebackers and that gets really hard.”
“It was a shame Tyler (Thigpen) had his hand hit on that one pass,” said Gailey. “Really he did not play bad other than that mistake. He played pretty well.”
Thigpen got into a rhythm in the second half leading a pair of touchdown drives capping one of them with a four-yard touchdown pass to
Jason Hanson would push the lead back to 31-24 for the Lions on a 39-yard field goal to cap a nine-play 65-yard drive with 14 minutes left in the game.
But the Bills had a response in the form of a 100-yard kick return by
Lions’ third-string quarterback Kellen Moore would orchestrate an eight-play 80-yard drive and run a one-yard sneak in off a ball fake to regain the lead for Detroit 38-32 with 10 minutes to play.
Buffalo threatened late as
The Bills got the ball back with 1:45 left with Thigpen leading a two-minute drive, but his arm was hit on a 2nd-and-4 pass from the Lions’ 24-yard line and the lofted pass was picked off by Justin Miller with 10 seconds left in the game.
Detroit took a knee to end the game.
The Bills finished the 2012 preseason without a victory. It’s the first time in 10 seasons that Buffalo did not post a preseason win.
Buffalo must now reduce their roster from 75 to the required 53 by 9 pm on Friday.