The Detroit Lions lost another game in heartbreaking fashion, but this preseason loss against the Buffalo Bills felt different than plenty of others.
Dan Campbell’s debut didn’t end as planned with a win given a 16-15 loss to the Bills, but the team battled all night long and didn’t give an inch. That is the kind of thing that bodes well for the future in terms of getting the right mindset with the team cultivated for the new culture.
The latest Lions news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Lions newsletter here!
Wins and losses don’t matter during the preseason, but having a team that looks organized and plays with the right purpose is more significant. Detroit showed much of that in spite of the loss, and managed to get themselves off to a quality start. Mentally, the team battled back from a 10 point halftime deficit, and may have been able to win the game if they had not played conservatively which was notable.
After the game on Friday, August 13, Campbell himself sounded pleased with the team’s effort level, telling the media that he loved the energy for a preseason game and appreciated how well the team battled.
“I thought they played hard, they did. We wanted them to compete, they did. From day one, we said we wanted to give ourselves a chance to win at the end of the game, and even for a preseason game, we did do that. We were in it at the end. Certainly we all know it’s not good enough, but this is also about evaluating talent,” Campbell told the media.
The Lions will continue to sort things out in the days ahead, but as for an opening statement from the team, this wasn’t a usual dud. The Lions didn’t go through the motions. Perhaps they didn’t execute, but as they learn and grow, that can come.
Campbell and the fans should feel good about where things can head after this opening statement. As losses go, this one wasn’t of the hopeless variety like so many in Detroit have been in recent years. The proper tone looks to have been set.
What else can be learned from the game? Here’s a look at some other observations:
Julian Okwara Looked Very Impressive
The Lions gave Okwara plenty of run on the game, and Okwara delivered in a major way, with 2 sacks and numerous pressures against the Bills. Detroit needs to find some alternate pass rushers, and if Okwara can step up and deliver this kind of effort, that would be huge for his future and Detroit’s on defense. It was a good debut for Okwara, who needs to stay healthy and show his toughness just like he did in this game.
Randy Bullock Looked Solid Kicking Field Goals
In spite of the loss, Bullock was solid, and did a nice job to dispel some of the worries about the kicking game. He was 3-3 in the defeat, and nearly hit the winning kick in the late stages which could have won the game. Zane Gonzalez didn’t get run, but it didn’t matter, with Bullock delivering some solid results in the contest. The Lions will want to see more of this moving forward.
Lions MVP vs. Bills: Craig Reynolds, Running Back
The runner gave Detroit a chance to win the game with a late touchdown, and ran hard with 49 yards on the ground. Whether or not Reynolds has a chance at the roster is anyone’s guess given the others at the spot, but this was a heck of an opening statement by the running back that could lead to more looks in the future.
Lions Stat of the Game: 34
This was the difference in yardage between run and pass for the Lions in the game. The team has maintained they want to be more balanced, and at times in this game, their ability to do that showed. The Lions should be able to run the ball more consistently than they have in the past, and might lean on the run to help set up the pass. Early on, the starters showed signs of being able to do that.
Lions Quote to Note:
“They protected their nuts off.” -Jared Goff. Detroit’s offensive line was the topic of conversation after the game, especially after Penei Sewell’s rough start. The team rebounded, though, and Goff was very happy with what his front seemed to do on the evening. This colorful quote shows just how happy Goff was to have his backside protected by the line’s front side.