The proud Buffalo Bills’ defense wasn’t going to let it happen again.
A week after blowing a late fourth-quarter lead against rookie Sam Darnold and the New York Jets, the Bills’ defense protected the slimmest of margins with a big stop, holding the Detroit Lions to a three-and-out on their final possession to help deliver a 14-13 victory Sunday at New Era Field.
“It’s satisfying,” said safety Jordan Poyer, who had two of his game-high 11 tackles on Detroit’s final possession. “It was a huge topic for us this week. We've got to find a way to win when the game is on the line. I think that says a lot about this team, learning from our experience last week, being in almost the same situation, and being able to create some good stops and put our offense back on the field to win the game for us."
Detroit took over on its own 30-yard line with 4:41 to play and a prime opportunity to win the game, needing only a field goal to take the lead. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has delivered in plenty of similar situations. His 26 career fourth-quarter comebacks are tied with Matt Ryan for the fifth-most among active quarterbacks.
But on first down, Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White tackled Lions receiver Kenny Golladay in the flat after a three-yard gain, and Poyer made back-to-back tackles on second and third down to force a punt.
Poyer tossed Theo Riddick for a two-yard loss on second down and wrapped up tight end Levine Toilolo in the flat after a two-yard gain on third down, tackling him in the open field near the sideline to keep the clock running.
The Lions punted with 2:56 remaining in the fourth quarter and never again possessed the ball, with Josh Allen picking up two first downs to run out the clock.
"It was a good thing for our defense,” said veteran linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, who filled in for injured Matt Milano in nickel. "The last couple weeks, we had given up those drives after the offense had did a good job putting us in the lead, and we didn't go out and execute, so it was good to be able to do that and close out on defense."
The Bills got off to a slow start. Detroit scored touchdowns on two of its first three possessions, with Golladay torching the league’s top-ranked passing defense in the first half, going off for four catches for 115 yards.
But the Bills forced the Lions to punt on six of their final seven drives. They missed a field goal on the other. Golladay was limited to three catches for 31 yards in the second half.
“We have heart,” Bills safety Micah Hyde said. “And I knew that going into this game, that this team has heart. We’re not going to fold. It doesn’t matter what our record is, we’re going to go out there and try to fight and get a victory. And that showed today.”