DETROIT — The Buffalo Bills may want to play on Thanksgiving in any season. They improved to 3–0 in Thanksgiving games over the past four seasons, the latest a 28–25 thriller over the Detroit Lions.
After the Lions tied the game late, the Bills took over with 23 seconds remaining. Quarterback Josh Allen led a four-play, 48-yard drive that found kicker Tyler Bass a 45-yard game-winning field goal with just seconds left.
The Lions haven’t won on Thanksgiving since 2016 and have just six wins on the holiday since 2000.
The Bills’ victory was overshadowed by a knee injury to pass-rusher Von Miller, who did not return after being injured in the first half.
After Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs struggled for much of the game, the two got on the same page when the team needed them most.
For the first eight drives of the game, Diggs caught three of nine targets for just 12 yards. Allen’s lone interception in the game also came while targeting Diggs. But on the final two drives, Allen and Diggs connected on 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 up against their own recent history. The team was 1-9 when trailing in the fourth quarter over the past two seasons.
describe the game in two words: Impact Injuries. The Bills came into the game without Mitch Morse and lost left tackle Dion Dawkins (ankle) while allowing 15 pressures on Allen. When Miller left the game, the defense took the lead in the first half.
buy breakout performance: Yes, defensive tackle Ed Oliver started early, but this was his best performance of the season so far when the Bills needed it due to injuries on the defensive line. Oliver forced a fumble, recovered a fumble, sacked Lions quarterback Jared Goff for a safety, and made two tackles for loss. His fifth-year option has already been picked up, and Oliver continues to show that he is an important part of this defense.
disturbing behavior:Allen is throwing too many red zone interceptions. He has now thrown a red zone interception in four of the last five games and has the most red zone picks in the league with four. Prior to this stretch, he had thrown two (the first 67 games) in his career. No quarterback had thrown that many in an entire season since 2019 (Mitch Trubisky and Sam Darnold each had four). This trend started before Allen’s right elbow injury, but he has to find a way to be more careful with the football. -Alaina Getzenberg
little data to know: Josh Allen now has 23 career games with a passing touchdown and a rushing TD, tied for fifth most in NFL history.
next game:at Patriots (8:15 PM ET, Dec. 1)
Detroit entered as 9.5-point underdogs and were on the verge of breaking their five-game losing streak on Thanksgiving, but despite going toe-to-toe with Buffalo — one of the league’s best teams — they were handed a crucial Stop at the end of the game not found.
buy breakout performance: Have the Lions found another hidden gem in James Houston? The rookie linebacker was elevated from the practice squad the day before the game and made the most of his opportunity with two sacks and a fumble recovery. He became the first player in team history to record a multi-sack game in his NFL debut. Before the game, linebackers coach Calvin Shepard said that “there will be a place for James Houston here in the future,” thanks to his work ethic once he was able to understand the team’s planning concept.
bold predictions for next week: The Lions will activate rookie receiver Jamison Williams ahead of their next home game against Jacksonville. Williams, the 12th overall selection of the 2022 draft, was running routes at Ford Field before the game, and if all goes according to plan this week during practice, he could make his NFL debut next week. Williams reported to practice for the first time prior to the Buffalo game, but the team did little during the shortened bye week. The Alabama alum told reporters that he is “real, real, real excited to be able to put on my cleats and put on the jersey.” — Eric Woodyard
little data to know: Since the start of last season with Goff, the Lions are 4-10 when scoring first — as they did Thursday — the worst mark in the NFL over that span.
next game: vs. Jaguars (1 p.m. ET, Dec. 4)