Lions vs. Bills: Detroit comes up short in preseason opener
By Zach Harrow
The Detroit Lions just finished their first preseason game of the 2021 season against the Buffalo Bills in which they were defeated 16-15 on a game-winning field goal by kicker Tyler Bass. It was hard-fought but Detroit inevitably came up short with strong efforts by running back Craig Reynolds, who was signed on Thursday, and second-year edge rusher Julian Okwara.
The first drive for the offense didn’t go as planned as after quarterback Jared Goff threw a pass that looked like it was intended for the defense. Running back Jamaal Williams, who finished with nine rushes for 15 yards, was immediately hit in the backfield which led to a Buffalo sack on third down after right tackle Penei Sewell and right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai were both beaten.
The first drive of the Detroit defense went better. After a long run negated by a penalty, defensive tackle Kevin Strong had a nice tackle for loss which led to an inevitable quarterback Mitch Trubisky’s incompletion to bring up a Bills’ field goal.
The Lions’ first points came after Goff and the starters marched down close to the endzone but just couldn’t punch it in leading to a 28-yard Randy Bullock field goal. After nearly throwing a pick on his first throw, Goff then went 7/9 for 56 yards to finish the game with wide receivers Amon-Ra St. Brown and Tyrell Williams hauling in two passes apiece.
After the first quarter, the defense remained on the field for the second Bills drive. Buffalo only made it to the 50-yard line after Strong had yet another run stuff at the line of scrimmage on third down giving him two total tackles and a tackle for loss capping off the day for the first-string defense.
Backup passer Tim Boyle then came in to lead the second-team offense which immediately went three and out. The second-team defense then let up the game’s first touchdown after Devin Singletary was wide open after a play-action rollout.
Boyle also started the second half. And after it was looking as if his day was over with an ankle injury, he managed to play through it. And his final drive at the beginning of the fourth-quarter lead to another Bullock field goal. Boyle went 8/15 for 38 yards. Backup quarterback David Blough then came in to finish the game.
The Bills’ first drive of the fourth quarter ended on a three and out as the Lions’ defense seemed to improve as the game went on. Blough and the reserves, behind the running of Reynolds, lead to the first touchdown for the Lions on a 24-yard run. Detroit would attempt to go for a two-point conversion but came up short.
The defense then came up big with a Julian Okwara sack on third down to give the offense the ball back with a chance to take the lead. Blough took advantage of the opportunity and led the offense down the field which ended with another 28-yard Bullock field goal.
Bullock would finish the game hitting all three of his field goal attempts. Unfortunately, the Lions’ defensive reserves could not stop the Bills. After converting a fourth and 10, Buffalo would march down the field and score the game-winning field goal.