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Bills barely top Lions in Thanksgiving thriller

Josh Allen had 23 seconds in a tie game and got the job done. He threw a deep pass down the middle to Stefon Diggs to get the Bills in field goal range.

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Last postseason, the Buffalo Bills had a haunting loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in which Patrick Mahomes somehow drove his team for a game-tying field goal with just 13 seconds left in regulation.

A similar Thanksgiving win by Buffalo doesn’t make up for that loss, but it was still pretty sweet.

Allen had 23 seconds left in a tie game and got the job done. He threw a deep pass down the middle to Stefon Diggs to get the Bills in field-goal range, two Allen runs got kicker Tyler Bass closer, and Bass hit the field goal with two seconds left — making up for a missed extra point with 2:40 left — for a 28-25 win.

For a Bills team that hasn’t looked great in November, then struggled a bit on Thanksgiving against the Detroit Lions, any win was a big one. Watching Allen do to the Lions what Mahomes did to them last January was a fun way to get the holiday win.

Lions get off to a fast start

It was clear early on the Lions were going to give the Bills some problems. After punting to start the game, Detroit forced a Buffalo three-and-out and then drove for a touchdown. Jamaal Williams scored his league-leading 13th rushing touchdown from 2 yards out and the Lions led 7-0.

The Bills took a 14-7 lead in the second quarter but it never seemed like they’d run away from the Lions despite being big favorites coming in. Jared Goff played well against a highly ranked Bills defense. The Lions’ run game didn’t get a ton of yards but they were physical and helped keep drives going. And the Lions defense, which was the worst in the NFL through seven games, was pretty good until late in the fourth quarter.

For most of the game the Bills didn’t get many explosive plays and didn’t do well in going on long drives either. When Allen threw a bad interception deep in Lions territory, in the third quarter with the Bills leading 17-14, Buffalo was on upset alert. Allen has been bad in the red zone lately and the interception continued that slump.

Even when the Bills sacked Goff in the end zone for a safety right after Allen’s red-zone interception, Detroit wouldn’t go away.

Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills looks to pass against the Detroit Lions. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills looks to pass against the Detroit Lions. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

Bills come back in 4th quarter

The Lions couldn’t put the Bills away, and finally Buffalo did put together a long drive.

Buffalo trailed 22-19 and took its time on a long drive that got inside the red zone. A roughing the passer penalty on the Lions kept the drive going. The Lions might complain, but Austin Bryant spun Allen around to the ground long after he threw the pass. It was the type of mistake that can lose a game.

Two plays later, Diggs caught a laser from Allen for a go-ahead score with 2:40 left. It capped a 14-play, 90-yard drive. Bass missed the extra point though, and that was enormous in a 25-22 game.

The Lions got into Bills territory in the final minute, needing just a field goal to tie it. When D’Andre Swift‘s run was marked inches short of the first down, the Lions had to go for it on fourth down. A jet sweep to Amon-Ra St. Brown picked up the first down. St. Brown picked up a huge 14-yard gain on second-and-15 to get the Lions into field-goal range. A severely underthrown pass on third-and-1 forced the Lions to try a field goal. Lions kicker Michael Badgley, who missed a 29-yarder earlier in the game, had his 51-yard attempt bend back to the left and it was barely good for a tie game with 23 seconds left. It looked like the game was headed to overtime.

Allen and the Bills had three timeouts left and 23 seconds. That was enough time. The pass to Diggs down the middle picked up 36 yards. Bass hit the 45-yard kick with two seconds left. The Bills had their second win in Detroit in five days. They won in Detroit on Sunday when their home game against the Cleveland Browns was moved due to a snowstorm.

It was a big victory for the Bills and their still-growing star quarterback who now knows, like Mahomes, he only needs a few seconds to get his team in position to win.

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