Bills edge out Lions late on Thanksgiving day
FiredUp Network Sports Writer
Thursday, November 24, 2022
Isaiah McKenzie had 96 yards and a touchdown to help the Bills to a thrilling 28-25 victory over the Lions in Detroit.
DETROIT – It’s the big moments in sports that define good players, from greats, and that was evident on Thursday afternoon.
Two of the NFL’s great players in Stefon Diggs and Josh Allen connected late in the fourth quarter to set up what would be the game-winning field goal to cap off a barn burner in Detroit.
The Thanksgiving special between Buffalo and the Lions was closer than many would have expected as the Bills eked out a 28-25 win to improve to 8-3 on the campaign.
It wasn’t the prettiest of games for a team that opened the season in dominant fashion, staking their claim as Super Bowl favourites. But headed into Detroit Thursday afternoon, there was a sense this was another must-win contest.
The game had a relatively lacklustre start as both offences weren’t able to produce much more than a pair of three and outs. But on their second drive, Jared Goff led the Lions’ offence downfield, before handing the ball off to Jamaal Williams for his 12th touchdown of the season.
The Bills were able to respond with a touchdown of their own as Josh Allen found Isaiah McKenzie to cap off a 12-play drive to even the tide.
But it was late in the fourth quarter where things got interesting.
It was a familiar sight as Allen found Diggs in the endzone to put what should have been the nail in the coffin. But Buffalo kicker Tyler Bass sailed his PAT wide-right to give the Mafia a 25-22 lead – one that a field goal would be able to tie.
Detroit, egged on by a rambunctious sold out crowd at Ford Field, did exactly that, marching downfield on 12 plays before Michael Badgley guided one just barely through the uprights to even things up at 25 apiece.
Buffalo needed big time plays from big time players to avoid the extra frame, and that’s exactly what they got.
The opening play of their final drive saw Allen lazer one through the secondary, putting the ball where only one man would be able to grab it. Diggs hauled in the rocket for a 36-yard pick-up, before Allen collected another 12 yards on his feet to give Bass as easy a kick as possible.
The third year kicker, determined to make up for his only fault of the game – in a stadium where last week he was 6-for-6 – was able to punch one through the uprights to give the Bills the victory as the away squad, less than five days after they collected a victory in that very same building as the home team.
"I don't think you understand how big it is for a guy to do that in this league," said Allen. "For [Bass] just to feel that roller coaster of emotions to go step up and build up for our team and nail it."
Bass, whose missed PAT was the first he’s had since the 2020 regular season, echoed the sentiment made by Allen. "I just knew we were going to have another chance, you know, given our offense," Bass said. "I just knew another chance is going to pop up and I got to be ready for it. And I just quickly reset and just got to my next process."
But just as much credit should be allocated to the fantastic play from Allen to Diggs that set the tone for the game-winning drive.
"I was anticipating not getting behind them, but maybe getting a one-on-one," Diggs said of the play. "If I got a one-on-one, I was, Josh was going to take it, I felt like. Him having confidence in me, getting behind the defense, or seeing the same thing. If they are playing top-down coverage, I kind of slow down a little bit, like, damn maybe the ball is coming, and it was. He threw another missile. You remember last week, he threw it and almost fell. I think that was a similar ball, it was coming [at] the same velocity. So, no heightened anxiety in the moment."
Allen followed the comments by stating the play was drawn up from a similar situation they saw in a previous game.
"They played like a little two-man concept and me and [offensive coordinator Ken] Dorsey kind of talked about that a few days ago," Allen said. "When I saw the same look in a previous game and just said, 'Hey, let's put this play in just in case we might need it.' We found it and Stef ran a heck of a route and just gave him a chance and he made a heck of a play."
When asked about the clutch plays that gave them the win, head coach Sean McDermott kept his answer short and sweet. "That's what great players do -- they step up in those big moments." He added, "and they make big plays in big moments of games like this."
The Bills will now enjoy a week off before they lock in for three straight divisional matchups with the first coming next Thursday against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.