DETROIT — The Buffalo Bills may want to play Thanksgiving every season. They improved to 3-0 in Thanksgiving games over the past four seasons, most recently in a 28-25 thriller against the Detroit Lions.
After the Lions leveled the game late, the Bills took over with 23 seconds left. Quarterback Josh Allen led a four-play 48-yard drive to set up kicker Tyler Bass for a 45-yard field goal with just seconds left.
The Lions have not won on Thanksgiving since 2016 and just six wins on the holiday since 2000.
The Bills’ win was marred by a knee injury to pass rusher Von Miller, who did not return from a first-half injury.
After struggling to connect for much of the game, Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs got the two on the same page when the team needed them most.
In the game’s first eight drives, Diggs caught three of nine targets from just 12 yards. Allen’s only catch in the game also came when he took aim at Diggs. But on the last two drives, Allen and Diggs hit all five targets for 65 yards and a score. Allen finished the game 24 of 42 for 253 yards with two passing touchdowns and another rushing.
With the win, the Bills went against their own recent history. The team has trailed 1-9 in the fourth quarter for the past two seasons.
Describe the game in two words: Impact injuries. The Bills came into play without center Mitch Morse and lost left tackle Dion Dawkins (ankle) while allowing 15 pressure on Allen. When Miller left the game, the defense gave up a first-half lead.
Buy a breakout performance: Yes, defensive tackle Ed Oliver broke out a long time ago, but this was by far his best performance of the season when the Bills needed it on the defensive line due to injuries. Oliver forced a fumble, recovered from a fumble, sacked Lions quarterback Jared Goff for a safety and had two tackles for a loss. His fifth-year option has already been picked up and Oliver continues to show he has a key role to play in that defence.
Worrying trend: Allen throws too many interceptions in the red zone. He has now thrown red zone interceptions in four of his last five games and has the most red zone picks in the league with four. Prior to this stretch, he had thrown twice in his career (first 67 games). No quarterback had thrown that many in a full season since 2019 (Mitch Trubisky and Sam Darnold each had four). The trend started before Allen’s right elbow injury, but he needs to find a way to be more cautious about football. – Alaina Getzenberg
Knowing underestimated statistics: Josh Allen now has 23 career games to his name with a passing touchdown and a rushing TD, which ranks fifth in NFL history.
Next game: at Patriots (8:15 p.m. ET, December 1)
Detroit came out as a 9.5-point underdog and close to ending their five-game losing streak on Thanksgiving, but even though they went toe-to-toe with Buffalo — one of the league’s best teams — they couldn’t take any criticism stop at the end of the game.
Buy a breakout performance: Have the Lions found another hidden gem in James Houston? The rookie linebacker was lifted off the practice team the day before the game and capitalized on his opportunity with two sacks and a fumbled recovery. He became the first player in team history to record a multi-sack game in his NFL debut. Before the game, Linebackers coach Kelvin Sheppard said that “there would be a place for James Houston here going forward” once his work ethic enabled him to understand the team’s schematic concept.
Bold prediction for next week: The Lions will activate rookie receiver Jameson Williams ahead of their next home game against Jacksonville. Williams, the 12th overall pick of the 2022 draft, ran pregame stretches at Ford Field and if all goes according to plan in practice this week, he could make his NFL debut next week. Williams first reported to practice before the Buffalo game, but the team didn’t do much in a short week. The Alabama alum told reporters he’s “really, really, really excited to put on my cleats and be able to pull on a jersey.” -Eric Woodyard
Knowing underestimated statistics: Since the start of last season with Goff, the Lions are 4-10 on the first goal — as on Thursday — the worst mark in the NFL for that span.
Next game: vs. Jaguars (1pm ET, Dec. 4)
https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/35098986/josh-allen-leads-21-second-game-winning-drive-bills-move-ahead-afc-east-race Josh Allen leads last-second drive; Bills move ahead in AFC East race