In many ways, it looked like the sort of game NFL teams play in August.
Lots of sloppiness. Lots of backups.
With their playoff hopes having evaporated, the Buffalo Bills had nothing at stake. With paper-thin postseason aspirations, the Detroit Lions were virtually there. And after these two bottom dwellers slogged through three hours of – shall we call it football? – the Bills came away with a 14-13 victory at New Era Field.
The difference proved to be a botched extra-point attempt by the Lions after their first touchdown. Veteran Lions kicker Matt Prater also was wide right on a 48-yard field-goal attempt.
Although Josh Allen did produce the Bills’ first touchdown on a 3-yard run and put the game away with a 2-yard keeper on fourth-and-1 with just less than two minutes left, his legs weren’t the focal point of this game. After generating more than 300 yards on the ground in the past three games, Allen had only 16 yards rushing on nine carries. And this came on a day when the Bills had to go deep into their depth chart after running back after LeSean McCoy and Chris Ivory were inactive with injuries, and Marcus Murphy left the game with an injured arm.
No, the rookie quarterback did his best work with his arm, completing 13 of 26 throws for 204 yards and a touchdown for a passer rating of 89.3.
His counterpart, Matthew Stafford, threw for 206 yards and a score. But the Bills’ defense, which entered the game ranked No. 1 in the NFL, held one of the league’s worst offenses in check.
Two of the Bills’ bigger plays were pass-interference penalties they drew. One was for 43 yards on Mike Ford, while covering Robert Foster. That set up Allen’s scoring run.
The other, for 23 yards on Darius Slay, helped set up Allen’s 42-yard scoring strike to a wide-open Foster for the winning points.