DETROIT (AP) TJ Jones boosted his chances of staying in Detroit, turning a short pass into a 64-yard touchdown to help the Lions beat the Buffalo Bills 17-10 Thursday night.
Jones – who missed all of his rookie season last year because of a shoulder injury – played extensively in part because after another wide receiver was injured.
The former Notre Dame standout made a move to get open on a slant, caught a pass from Kellen Moore and used a burst of speed to split defenders and score.
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”I caught that ball and was running for my life,” Jones said.
Jones also had a tackle-breaking, 18-yard punt return early in the second quarter shortly after Greg Salas, who is also competing for a roster spot, was carted off the field with an injured left knee.
”He showed a flash of speed,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said.
Rookie Zach Zenner, who is also vying for a roster spot, ran for a go-ahead, 3-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter for the Lions (3-1) after the Bills (2-2) had a head-scratching penalty.
The Bills stopped the Lions on a fourth down only to have the play negated by Ikemefuna Enemkpali lining up offside. Buffalo signed the linebacker last month a day after he was cut by the New York Jets because he punched quarterback Geno Smith and broke his jaw.
”We did some of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen in football,” Bills coach Rex Ryan said. ”It was awful. A football follies play, offside on a fourth down call on defense by a lineman.”
Buffalo’s fourth-string quarterback, Matt Simms, played the entire game and had the ball at his team’s 36 with 1:47 left, but turned the ball over on downs. Simms was 22 of 38 for 223 yards and lost three fumbles, all of which were recovered by defensive tackle Kerry Hyder.
”Things like that at this level of the game just can’t happen,” Simms said. ”I’m the quarterback. It starts with me and it ends with me.”
Observations from the game:
Besides getting banged-up players such as running back LeSean McCoy healthy, the Bills’ concerns include kicker Dan Carpenter. He made 90-plus percent of his field goals the previous two years with Buffalo, but the veteran of seven NFL seasons is struggling to find his form this preseason. Carpenter hit the right upright on a 40-yard field goal with a chance to break a 10-all tie in the third quarter.
”We better be looking for any guy that’s ever kicked a football in his life,” Ryan said.
RUNNING ON EMPTY
Caldwell was committed to running the ball a lot, perhaps in part to keep the clock moving, and was not happy that George Winn was able to run for just 27 yards on 14 carries and that Zenner gained a mere 21 yards on 10 attempts.
Lions: Caldwell refused to say if Salas’ knee injury was significant, but the receiver was obviously hobbling when he needed to move a short distance to get on a golf cart that took him off the field.
Bills: WR Tobais Palmer, who is competing for a job, was not able to play much because of a migraine.
DID YOU SEE THAT?
The Bills did have at least one highlight-worthy play in what was otherwise a ho-hum game. Linebacker Merrill Noel hit a leaping Jeremy Ross onto his back, sending the football into the air and the arms of cornerback Ron Brooks, who raced 81 yards down the sideline for a touchdown to give Buffalo a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.
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