Although no Detroit Lions player has been able to taste the savory turkey on Thanksgiving in six years, there was more to be happy about than sad.
In heart-breaking fashion, the Lions lost to Buffalo 28-25 on a last second field goal.
Outside of not obtaining the win, the Lions almost took down a Super Bowl contender. They did this without some key players.
The most notable loss was cornerback Jeff Okudah, who did not have enough time to pass concussion protocol after their win in New York. Detroit’s secondary was less than stellar, but they still were able to limit the long, explosive plays Buffalo is accustomed to. It took the Bills up to the fourth to last play of the game to get a play of 35+ yards.
Unfortunately for the Lions, that play would prove to be the most important one of the game.
Sticking on defense, rookie linebacker James Houston IV had quite the debut. The sixth round pick was elevated from the practice squad and made Lions history. The HBCU standout was the first Lions player to have a multi-sack game in their debut. He got to Josh Allen twice and also recovered a fumble.
Another linebacker who’s been steadily improving is Alex Anzalone. He was the only Lions player, on defense, to take the ball away from the Bills. The interception came off a tipped ball in Buffalo’s red-zone. Outside of that play, Anzalone was Detroit’s leading tackler with nine total tackles, seven solo.
Benito Jones sacked Allen as well. Jones was a pre-season acquisition by Detroit and was very quiet in his limited snaps this season. With Alim McNeill in-and-out all game with something bothering him, “Big Benito” stepped up.
Moving to offense, there’s even more to be thankful for on Turkey Day.
Amon-Ra St. Brown continued to show why he’s the number one receiving option for the Lions. He finished with 122 yards on nine catches with a touchdown. What’s surprising is that was his first touchdown reception since week two.
Kalif Raymond had a 41-yard punt return and commanded the ball on offense despite all the options Goff has available. DJ Chark caught his first touchdown pass since week one, and Jamaal Williams added his 13th touchdown of the season, along with 66 yards rushing.
Detroit lost by a field goal, but Michael Badgley knocked in a 51-yarder to tie the game, which was thought to go into overtime. Badly did miss a chip shot in the third quarter, but he’s been the best Lions kicker all year. Not bad for a guy who’s on his fifth team in four years.
Jared Goff did not play his best, he missed some wide-open looks and threw some bad passes, but he did one thing great. Goff threw no interceptions and threw two touchdowns. That’s the first time since week 17 of 2021 that he two or more touchdowns and no picks.
Yes, the Lions lost, but the growth is showing. While many enjoy their thanksgiving dinners, enjoy it knowing the Detroit Lions never gave up.
Photo Credit: Paul Sancya – Associated Press