For the second straight week, the Buffalo Bills had a nightmarish first half in front of their fans at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
The Detroit Lions outscored the Bills 17-0 in the second quarter to take a seventeen point halftime lead that was insurmountable, eventually winning 23-0. Head coach Doug Marrone gave his first-team offense three possessions against a Lions defense that was playing with mostly second-teamers, but did not get any better results than last week.
Quarterback E.J. Manuel was 3 for 7 for 56 yards, and was sacked twice, with Buffalo’s first team offense finishing the preseason without scoring a touchdown against an opponent’s first-team defense. On their second offensive possession of the game, rookie receiver Sammy Watkins, the No. 4 pick in this year’s draft, was hit hard by Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch and came to the sideline.
The team later announced that Watkins had a rib injury, and he would not return to the game. Manuel led the offense to only 50 yards total and 4 first downs after the three possessions in the first quarter.
The first score of the game didn’t come until early in the second stanza, with starting quarterback Dan Orlovsky getting first-downs on passes to Eric Ebron and Theo Riddkc, setting up Nate Freese for a 53 yard field goal with 14:13 left in the second quarter.
Jordan Palmer, who was brought in for the Bills on Monday, came in for Manuel, and looked like a quarterback who only had two days of practice with a new team. On his second possession, Palmer began from his own 1 yard line.
After a pair of first downs, Palmer threw a quick pass intended for T.J. Graham, but was intercepted by Isa Abdul-Quddus. The Lions inserted Kellen Moore at quarterback, who found Corey Fuller for 17 yards and then Jeremy Ross from 1 yard out to make the game 10-0 with just under 6 minutes left in the half.
On the next Buffalo possession, issues persisted, as Chris Hairston was flagged by a holding penalty, Palmer was sacked. Disaster seemed to strike again when Brown caught an underneath pass on 3rd and 22, and was down on the field.
Brwon was helped off the field slowly by fellow running backs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, struggling to put weight on the knee. However, Brown would return the game with no issues.
However, the Bills offense would not do anything more in the first half, registering only 97 yards of total offense. Moore took advantage, leading Detroit on a four play, 47 yard drive, culminating in a 25 yard touchdown pass to receiver Corey Fuller with 9 seconds left, putting the Bills behind 17-0 at half, and getting booed by the home crowd on their way to the locker room.
Buffalo’s offense stalled again on its first possession of the first half, and then the Lions kept it for as long as they could. Moore and the Lions went on a 14 play, 45 yard drive that took just over 8 minutes off the clock, setting up Freese for another 53 yard field goal to increase the lead to 20-0 with 3:24 left in the third quarter.
Palmer’s troubles continued in the fourth quarter, as he was intercepted by rookie defensive back Mohammed Seisay, who took it down to the Buffalo 28. Six plays later, Freese hit his third field goal of the game to put the Lions up 23-0 with just under 11 minutes remaining in the game.
As if it couldn’t get any worse, Palmer was intercepted on the third play of the next possession, going deep to Caleb Holley and instead finding defensive back Nate Ness at the Bills’ own 44 yard line. Palmer finished 9 of 22 for 73 yards and three interceptions.
Buffalo begins its regular season on Sunday, September 7, going to Chicago to play the Bears, while Detroit hosts the Giants on Monday Night Football on September 8.
More stories you might like