DETROIT — For the second straight year in their Thanksgiving Day game, the Buffalo Bills lost a key defensive player to a knee injury.
Edge rusher Von Miller left Thursday’s game against the Lions at Ford Field with 2:27 left in the second quarter after suffering a right knee injury. Miller was hurt rushing Lions quarterback Jared Goff on a play that ended with a 7-yard completion to Kalif Raymond.
Head coach Sean McDermott came out to check on Miller, who was down on one knee for several minutes as the coaches spoke to him. After leaving the field without much assistance, Miller entered the medical tent on the Bills sideline.
After emerging, he briefly sat on the Bills bench before being taken back to the locker room. The Bills announced shortly after that Miller would not return to the game, which entered halftime with Buffalo leading, 17-14.
The Bills won a hard-fought 28-25 victory that took them to 8-3 this season and 3-0 at Thanksgiving the past four years.
The Bills finished their five-day residency at Ford Field with a 2-0 record. Here is a summary of the game.
Last Thanksgiving, the Bills lost cornerback Tre’Davious White for the remainder of the 2021 season when he tore his ACL on Thanksgiving against the Saints.
White returned to the Bills roster for the first time since the injury Thursday against Detroit.
The Bills will obviously hold their breath that the injury to Miller, who has eight sacks in his first season with the team, isn’t that serious.
McDermott told reporters he didn’t have an update on Miller immediately after the game.
After Miller was injured, the Bills found themselves with Boogie Basham, Shaq Lawson and Mike Love, who was called up from the practice squad on Wednesday, on the defensive end. AJ Epenesa (ankle) and Greg Rousseau (ankle) were out of the Bills roster, leading to Love’s call. He made his first appearance for the Bills since the 2020 regular season finale. ‘alignment.
“Mike Love is going to get his shot this weekend,” defensive tackle Ed Oliver said Tuesday. “He was just waiting. … I saw him rushing Dion (Dawkins) every day, working on his moves, working on his game every day. So for him to finally come out and show it off at Thanksgiving is a big step for him to finally get his chance and do his thing. I only have faith in him. He was humble.
2. Ryan Bates stepped in at center. Mitch Morse was unable to play due to an ankle injury suffered Sunday against Cleveland. Morse was questionable on the final injury report, but was unable to train all week. In response, the Bills moved regular starting right guard Ryan Bates to center and brought Greg Van Roten off the bench to play right guard. Bates has experience as a reserve center on the Bills’ offense.
The rest of the Bills’ starting offensive line remained unchanged, with Dion Dawkins at left tackle, Rodger Saffold at left guard and Spencer Brown at right tackle.
3. Dawkins did not play in the second half. The Bills left tackle was rolled up on the final play of the first half. He was announced as questionable to return to action with an ankle injury, but never returned to the pitch. He was replaced in the lineup by David Quessenberry at left tackle.
Without Morse and Dawkins, the Bills offensive line was in absolute ruin, leaving Allen running for his life with every snap of his fingers.
4. Stefon Diggs wasn’t on the same page as Allen at first. The Bills’ No. 1 receiver had just three catches on his first 10 targets. But the Bills continued to return to the pit, often throwing to Diggs on the starting touchdown. This culminated in a 5-yard touchdown pass from Allen to Diggs on an oblique route with less than 3 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Diggs had four catches for 27 yards on the drive.
5. The third and long becomes a major stake for the defense. Again, the Bills struggled when the opponent had 8 or more yards, allowing several conversions in that situation.
6. Dawson Knox’s first goal didn’t come until midway through the fourth quarter. Days after setting season highs with seven catches for 70 yards, Knox was only targeted once Thursday, making a 2-yard catch in the fourth quarter. Knox added a 15-yard reception later on the same drive on a perfect throw from Allen along the right sideline.
7. Tyler Bass had a crushing misfire…then redeemed himself. The Bills kicker had been a perfect 32 for 32 extra points this season, but missed one in the fourth quarter that would have given the Bills a 26-22 lead. Instead, the Lions were able to get a basket to tie the game, 25-25, with 23 seconds left. That, however, gave enough time for the Bills offense to get into position for a 45-yard field goal from Bass that came with 2 seconds left and provided the game-winning runs.
8. The offense started slowly. The Bills have now gone six straight without a point in their opener. During this period, they did three and four times. The Bills turned things around on their second possession, however, as Allen led a 10-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah McKenzie. It was the first receiving touchdown since Week 4 for McKenzie, who according to NFL Next Gen stats hit 19.3 mph on the play.
9. AJ Klein started. The veteran linebacker, who was taken off waivers last week from Chicago, started in place of Tremaine Edmunds, who missed his second straight game with a groin injury. Klein made a nice tackle in support of the run in the first quarter, when he stopped Lions running back Jamaal Williams after just a 2-yard gain on a second and 10 plays from the Bills’ 28-yard line. Klein had a great opportunity in the fourth quarter to make a huge play, but he was unable to hang on to a misguided pitch from Jared Goff that would have been an interception that gave the Bills the ball at the inside Detroit territory.
10. The other inactive Bills were healthy. They included linebacker Baylon Spector, tight end Tommy Sweeney and safety Cam Lewis. Spector was inactive for the sixth time this season, Sweeney for the eighth time and Lewis for the third time.
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