In a game that meant the most for players fighting for roster spots, the coaching staffs for both teams made sure they had every opportunity to make a final impression. The Bills and Lions started the game almost exclusively with backup players and the reserves played the entire game in what wound up being a 14-6 victory for Detroit.
"This was a game where we needed to look at an awful lot of young people for a lot of decisions that are on the line and need to be made (Friday) and the next day," said head coach Dick Jauron. "We got to see a lot of those guys. We got to see them for a lot of plays."
For Buffalo Ko Simpson was the only regular starter in the lineup.
"Coach told me going in that they were going to put me in a little bit and get the rust off so I can get ready for the season," said Simpson. "So I just have to take it as it goes and get better every day so I'm ready for the opening game."
Buffalo's offense was led by Gibran Hamdan, who was grateful for the opportunity to start
"You work hard in life and to get an opportunity finally after putting in a lot of hard work, it means a lot to me," he said. "It was great. A wonderful opportunity."
Hamdan finished the night 18-26 passing for 158 yards and a passer rating of 85.1, but did not finish the game after winding up on the rough end of a Lions' sack with 9:14 left in the game. J.P. Losman finished the game for Buffalo at quarterback.
"Gibran hit the ground pretty hard," said Jauron. "He was dazed on the field, so we weren't going to take any chance there."
"I am feeling good," said Hamdan after the game. "I have never taken a hit like that. I have taken hits, but never felt that way before. It's a new feeling for me. I think I will be okay, just dazed out for a little."
While in charge of Buffalo's offense Hamdan drove the unit 66-yards on 11 plays on the team's opening possession culminating in a 32-yard field goal by Rian Lindell for an early 3-0 advantage.
Detroit's defense cut Buffalo's early field goal lead to one when Lions' defensive end Shaun Cody dropped Dwayne Wright in the end zone for a safety on a 2nd-and-14 play from Buffalo's one-yard line.
The Lions would then take the lead on consecutive scoring drives. A 46-yard return by Brandon Middleton set up Jason Hanson's 39-yard field goal, and a Dwayne Wright fumble on Buffalo's ensuing possession put the Lions' offense back on the field. Dan Orlovsky capped a nine-play drive with a nine-yard touchdown pass to fullback Jerome Felton for a 12-3 lead early in the second quarter.
"We really like him as a runner. We like his attitude," said Jauron of Wright. "He's a very aggressive runner. He's a physical runner, but you just can't keep laying it on the ground."
Detroit added a second safety when the Bills were again backed up deep in their own territory. On a 3rd-and-10 play from their own six-yard line, Gibran Hamdan was in the process of being thrown to the ground by Langston Moore, but still got a pass off that was caught by Courtney Anderson. The officials however, ruled the play a safety to make it 14-3 Detroit late in the first half.
"We had to be a little more focused and eliminate the bad mistakes that were killing drives for us," said Hamdan. "We just needed to be more consistent."
James Hardy saw his first preseason action since the Pittsburgh preseason game two weeks earlier and factored into the offense's production early with a pair of catches for 30 yards.
"I felt real comfortable," said Hardy. "I came off and talked to Josh Reed and he said I looked real comfortable out there. I just wanted to come out and show them consistency, and give everybody a little preview of what they are going to get this year."
The receivers that really made a statement were Steve Johnson and Felton Huggins who had eight receptions for 74 yards and five catches for 56 yards respectively.
"I feel like I left it out on the field," said Huggins who is fighting for a roster spot. "Everything they've asked me to do I went out there and tried to do it 100 percent. I've gotten good feedback and whatever they've asked me to do I've gone out there and practiced it. I went out and learned more of the receiver positions. I feel I went out there and gave it my best and feel I did get a lot better."
Leodis McKelvin was productive on kickoffs in the first half with returns of 45 and 33 yards on kickoffs. On McKelvin's 45-yard return Detroit kicker Jason Hanson managed to cut him off at the last moment preventing the rookie from posting his second return for a touchdown this preseason.
"I had some good ones," said McKelvin. "I felt like I could have returned two. We had some great blocks. I was just one (player) away from a touchdown."
Unfortunately neither of the drive starts provided by McKelvin led to points for Buffalo.
In the second half a late third quarter punt return by Scott Mayle got Buffalo into Detroit territory as the offense began the drive at the Lions' 38-yard line.
Consecutive receptions by Steve Johnson and Felton Huggins got Buffalo inside the Lions' 30-yard line. But the drive stalled three plays later forcing the Bills to settle for a 45-yard Rian Lindell field goal to make it a one score game (14-6) early in the fourth quarter.
But that was as close as Buffalo would get on the scoreboard.
Buffalo finished the preseason with a 2-2 mark. The Bills coaching staff now has some tough decisions to make as the roster must be reduced from 75 to 53 players by Saturday at 4pm.
"(The game) had an impact in a lot of spots," said Jauron. "We need to sit down and talk about the roster (Friday) after we take a long look at the tape."
MLB John DiGiorgio suffered a rib injury in the first half and did not return to the game.
"We are going to do some tests in the morning," said Jauron. "He was very sore at halftime, and struggling a bit to catch his breath. He's comfortable now, but we need to look at that again in the morning."
LB/S Jon Corto suffered a concussion and did not return.