Lions rest starters, still rout Bills 23-0
AUG 29, 2014 9:23a ET
While the Lions held out 11 starters, including quarterback Matthew Stafford, receiver Calvin Johnson and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the Bills went the other route and played much of their first-team personnel through the first quarter.
Here are some of the key points that stood out for the Lions:
-- Linebacker Kyle Van Noy, the team's second-round draft pick, will miss at least the first several weeks of the regular season, perhaps much more, following abdominal surgery Thursday. He has been out of action for the last week.
The Lions released a statement before the game that read: "Kyle Van Noy underwent a successful surgical procedure today due to a core muscle injury. We will continue to monitor Kyle's progress and provide updates when appropriate."
Van Noy had been playing in a backup role, but he was expected to contribute because of his versatility and big-play potential, including in blitzes from the outside-linebacker spot and possibly as a designated pass-rusher up front.
-- Starting cornerback Darius Slay was called for pass interference on consecutive plays in the first quarter. He bounced back on the next play to make a one-on-one tackle on a running play.
Slay, a second-round draft pick last year, is arguably one of the biggest keys to this season for the Lions, who need him to have a breakout season to solidify their secondary.
-- Safety Isa Abdul-Quddus, in his fourth year out of Fordham, made his second interception of the preseason deep in Bills' territory to set up the Lions' first touchdown. Cornerback Mohammed Seisay and safety Nate Ness also added picks in the fourth quarter to help protect the shutout.
-- Even without Suh, the defensive line continued to be one of the team's top strengths by constantly harassing the Bills' quarterbacks, including four sacks in the first half alone.
-- Dan Orlovsky, who started in place of Stafford, completed seven of his 11 passes but only for 39 yards during a mostly uneventful first quarter before turning the game over to third-string quarterback Kellen Moore.
While Orlovsky really hasn't done much to impress during the preseason, Moore arguably has played well enough to deserve consideration for the No. 2 job. Whether that happens remains to be seen because the team seemed to be committed to Orlovsky.
Moore doesn't have a strong arm by NFL standards, but he is accurate, has a quick release and the offense has been fairly productive with him running the show. He took advantage of his opportunity in the preseason finale, throwing two touchdown passes in the second quarter to lead the Lions to a 17-0 halftime lead.
First, Moore (17-of-28 for 172 yards) connected with Jeremy Ross for a 1-yard score, and then he followed that up with a 25-yard TD strike between defenders to Corey Fuller in the final seconds of the half.
Moore won't have to wait much longer to find out whether he did enough to win a roster spot for the third straight year. The Lions must announce their 53-man roster to start the regular season by 4 p.m. Saturday.
-- The Lions' decision to cut Georgio Tavecchio and give the kicking job to rookie Nate Freese, a seventh-round draft pick, was quickly validated when Freese smoothly nailed two 53-yard field goals along with a 28-yarder. The second from 53 yards hit the left upright before bouncing over the goal post.
Freese ended up making all six of his field-goal attempts in the preseason, including a 55-yarder a couple weeks ago in Oakland that seemed to be a turning point for his confidence following a shaky start in early training-camp practices.
He hasn't missed a field goal in a game since his junior season at Boston College.
-- Further evidence that Ryan Broyles has perhaps completely recovered from surgery for a torn Achilles' tendon surgery: He added backup punt-return duties to his workload.
-- Second-year punter Sam Martin showed the type of weapon he can be when he pinned the Bills at their 2-yard line with a 50-yard punt.
The Lions finished with a 3-1 record to improve to 18-6 over the last six years in the preseason. They open the regular season on September 8 against the New York Giants at Ford Field.