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Quarterly Report: Chalk up a second comeback for Bills' Josh Allen

FIRST QUARTER

Theme: A sack is the biggest play.

Mills beaten: The lone scoring chance for either team was derailed when Detroit Lions linebacker Devon Kennard beat Jordan Mills quickly around right tackle and sacked Josh Allen for a 9-yard loss. That left the Buffalo Bills with a fourth-and-18 situation, and they punted.

Edge emerger: After four years with the New York Giants, Kennard has found a home as an edge defender for Detroit. A former fifth-round pick, his sack was his career-high and team-leading seventh of the season.

Holes in lineup: The Bills were without their top two backs. The Lions were without No. 1 back Kerryon Johnson. Detroit also was without starting right tackle Rick Wagner, starting defensive end Da’Shawn Hand and slot receiver Bruce Ellington. Wagner was replaced by Tyrell Crosby, making his first career start.

Fourth-down decision: Sean McDermott eschewed a 53- or 54-yard field-goal try on the first drive. The Bills then punted into the end zone for a touchback. It’s hard to second-guess. A field-goal try would have been into a slight wind.

Tough early: The Lions have allowed only 43 first-quarter points, third fewest in the NFL.

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SECOND QUARTER

Theme: Kenny Golladay takes over.

Matchup watch: Golladay beat Tre’Davious White for catches of 31 and 40 yards on Detroit’s two touchdown marches.

Strong hands: Golladay had a 24-yard catch on the right sideline on the second TD drive that Levi Wallace read and had his hands on. But Golladay ripped the ball away from Wallace as they went to the ground.

Big miss: The Lions missed their first extra-point kick due to a bad snap.

“I didn’t do my job right,” said Lions long-snapper Don Muhlbach. “I let everybody down. … I just couldn’t get it off the ground.”

Heavy blockers: With their receiving corps depleted, the Lions went with heavier formations on 19 of 54 plays. Big tight end Luke Wilson had a key block on a 19-yard run that set up the first TD. Detroit used 305-pound guard Joe Dahl as a fullback a handful of plays.

Zebra report: Robert Foster drew a 43-yard pass interference penalty to set up the Bills’ TD. Foster would have made the catch if not for the foul.

Key stop: Bills linebacker Tremaine Edmunds stuffed Theo Riddick for no gain on a third-and-2 play to force a Lions punt.

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THIRD QUARTER

Theme: Another scoring chance evaporates for Bills.

Second guess: Coaches generally get credit for being aggressive. Sean McDermott went for it on a fourth-and-2 situation from the Detroit 13 with 3:29 left in the quarter. Josh Allen was tackled trying to scramble and stopped 1 yard short. With a 4-9 record and trialing, 13-7, why not? But if the Bills were 9-4 and battling for a playoff spot? We bet McDermott would have kicked the field goal. (Two-point conversion attempts, with less room in which to operate, convert at a 49 percent rate in recent years.)

Bills backed up: The Bills’ average drive start on their first six possessions was their own 16. The Bills finally got their first decent drive start of the game when they took over at their own 36 midway through the third quarter.

Key fill-in: Backup linebacker Julian Stanford played one snap in the third quarter when Tremaine Edmunds was shaken up. On a third-and-6 situation, Stanford had tight coverage on running back Theo Riddick on the right sideline and broke up an on-target pass to force a punt.

Bills-Lions Report Card: Average is enough for Buffalo in win

FOURTH QUARTER

Theme: Josh Allen gets his second fourth-quarter comeback win. (The first was against Tennessee in Week 5.)

Going deep: Allen’s 42-yard TD pass to Robert Foster was Buffalo’s seventh 40-plus pass of the year, which puts the Bills in the middle of the pack in the NFL.

Rare miss: Lions kicker Matt Prater has made 78 percent of his kicks from 40 to 49 yards the past seven years and was 24 of 27 overall this year. He missed wide right.

Dropped chances: Deonte Thompson dropped a diving effort on a deep post that would have been a 55-yard gain. It was a hard catch. Then Zay Jones dropped a pass over the middle that would have been a 17-yard gain. The Bills are overdue for a remarkable catch.

Zebra report: Let’s have Jerome Boger’s crew back. The Bills were flagged three times for 20 yards, which tied a season low (with the Green Bay game). Detroit had four penalties for 81 yards.

Detroit losing streak: The Lions have lost four straight in Orchard Park since winning a meaningless (for the Bills) regular-season finale in 1991.

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