In their final tune-up for the regular season Buffalo's number one offense again had mixed results on their two drives Thursday night at Ford Field. But Trent Edwards and the reserves accounted for all 16 points as the reserve defenders held the Lions scoreless over the final two quarters to lift Buffalo to a 16-13 come from behind win.
"Fortunately I've been in that situation where the coaches have given me a chance to go out there and show what I can do," said Edwards. "And it's something that's been a learning experience. I've taken each game as a learning experience. Hopefully I've been able to apply some things to the next game and fortunately we were able to finish on a high note."
"It's our last preseason game and it is preseason, but it's always better to win than to lose," said head coach Dick Jauron. "There's no doubt about that. I like the way that they played in the second half. I like how they came out. In general they didn't make as many errors as we've made in terms of penalties. If you do that you have a chance to win."
Playing without Lee Evans who was rested with a sore calf, Buffalo's first team offense was efficient early gaining a pair of first downs on five plays on their first possession. But good penetration by Detroit's defensive front on a 1st-and-10 from the Lions' 41-yard line led to a four-yard loss on a carry by Marshawn Lynch. It led to a long down and distance situation and two plays later the punt team was coming onto the field as Peerless Price was ruled out of bounds on what would've been a first down completion along the sideline on 3rd-and-13.
But J.P. Losman saw some good things out there.
"I thought the pass protection was excellent," said Losman. "That was the most pass protection I've had in a while."
Buffalo's second possession also had a negative play disrupt their success. After a 14-yard reception by Lynch and a nine-yard gain, the Bills top back was again dropped for a loss when the Lions' front penetrated from both ends of the formation to wrap Lynch up early. That was followed by an offensive pass interference call on Price which led to a 3rd-and-15 that the Bills couldn't pick up to move the chains.
"I thought we did well," said Price. "But you always want to end drives with a score as an offensive player so that was a little disappointing. But we did some good things."
Lynch finished with nine yards on six carries. J.P. Losman was a sharp 5-6 for 43 yards in very limited duty.
"We just have to tie up some of our run game calls last minute and we'll get it together," said Losman.
Defensively the first unit got the fast start they've been looking for all preseason forcing Detroit three-and-out on their first possession.
"It was good to finally get out there start fast and not give up a long drive to start the game," said Aaron Schobel. "It felt good."
Head coach Dick Jauron promptly pulled his defensive starters off the field after that initial series.
Running back Fred Jackson looks to have the inside track on the fourth running back spot with Lynch, Anthony Thomas and fourth-round pick Dwayne Wright expected to make the roster. He was used on kickoff return and was the first back into the game after Lynch's night was over. Jackson finished the game with 18 yards on six carries including a five-yard touchdown run.
Coy Wire turned in a couple of nice plays defensively as he looks to be the linebacker who will be first off the bench this season no matter which starter might go down with an injury. He had a tackle for no gain that led to a Detroit punt and had a tackle for loss on the Lions' next possession.
John DiGiorgio made a couple of tackles for no gain in a goal-to-go situation to force Detroit settle for a field goal. DiGiorgio was likely as determined as anyone to stop the Lions after he was responsible for the turnover deep in Buffalo territory when his shin made contact with a punted ball from Nick Harris shortly after it hit the turf.
Brad Butler saw his first preseason action and worked at right guard with the second unit. Duke Preston flipped over to the left side of the formation to play left guard.
Craig Nall followed Losman, but couldn't get the offense moving in the two possessions of work he was given. His night unfortunately ended when his fumbled exchange with Christian Gaddies resulted in a turnover that led to a Lions' touchdown.
Trent Edwards took another step toward cementing himself as the number two quarterback with a successful two minute drill that led to a field goal before the first half expired for Buffalo's first points on the night.
Edwards also led an 11-play 72-yard drive that culminated in a five-yard touchdown run by Fred Jackson. The rookie quarterback successfully engineered at least one touchdown drive in every one of Buffalo's preseason games.
Josh Scobey made his presence felt in his first preseason action with a forced fumble on the final kickoff of the game with John Wendling making the recovery to seal the come from behind win.
Dwayne Wright ran well with 52 yards on 11 carries (4.2 avg) to lead all rushers.
"Dwayne had his best game," said Jauron. "I thought he did a terrific job picking up the safety blitz. It might have been his best play. But he ran the ball well and he ran it with authority."
Ashton Youboty was Buffalo's leading tackler with seven takedowns.
Keith Ellison suffered a right ankle injury in the first half and did not return. Jauron didn't confirm or deny that it was a high ankle sprain which is usually a lengthy injury.
"We'll know more about it, but they x-rayed it and there wasn't a break," said Jauron. "I don't know how long it will be, but it wasn't good."