Lions beat Bills in final preseason game
DETROIT — After the Detroit Lions squandered a 25-point first-quarter lead, third-string quarterback Kellen Moore came to the rescue in the final preseason game.
That’s right. Moore, who has taken his share of ridicule because of his poor arm strength and lack of athleticism, led the Lions on an 80-yard scoring drive in the fourth quarter to pull out a 38-32 victory over the Buffalo Bills Thursday night at Ford Field.
The winning touchdown came on Moore’s 1-yard bootleg with 10:20 remaining.
The Lions, who went 14-2 the previous four preseasons, finished 2-2 this year. They open the regular-season Sept. 9 at home against St. Louis.
The roster must be trimmed from 75 to 53 by Friday at 9 p.m. Eight players can be added Saturday to the practice squad.
Here are a few other key points from Thursday night:
Mikel Leshoure, a second-round pick in 2011, made his second appearance as a Lion and started at running back.
He kept on playing well past the time when the rest of the starters came out.
“We needed to get him a long look,” coach Jim Schwartz said. “He did some good things.”
Leshoure got the extra playing time because he’s suspended for the first two regular-season games following two offseason marijuana arrests. The next time he will be eligible is Sept. 23 at Tennessee.
Leshoure missed all of last season because of a torn Achilles’ tendon and the first two preseason games this year because of a hamstring injury.
He carried the ball 15 times Thursday for 43 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown.
Leshoure can attend meetings and lift, but he can’t practice with the team while he’s on suspension.
“I did it for a year last year, so I’ve just got to continue to do that,” Leshoure said, when asked how he’ll adapt to not being able to practice. “I just have to keep doing the things I’ve been doing like I’m going to play.
“I’m going to have to stay active, just act like I’m playing.”
The first-team offense played one possession. Matthew Stafford connected with Calvin Johnson for a 24-yard touchdown pass on third-and-10.
“I think we’re ready for Week 1 now,” Stafford said.
Safety Ricardo Silva (arm) was the latest defensive back for the Lions to go out with an injury.
“Our depth has been severely challenged,” Schwartz said. “We had corners playing safety, including one that just got here (Kevin Barnes, who was acquired a few days ago in a trade).
“We have some good players there. We just have to keep them healthy.”
Starting safety Louis Delmas has been out since early in training camp following knee surgery.
Schwartz said he’s not certain whether Delmas will be back in time to practice and get ready for the opener.
“He’s getting better, that’s all I can say,” Schwartz said. “I think he’s on a good path. But I don’t know when (he’s going to be back).”
Based on how the punting duties were split up, it was difficult for much of the night to determine who the Lions’ punter will be for the opener.
Based on the holder, however, it seemed fairly certain from the start of the game that the punter will be Ben Graham.
Here’s the deal: Graham and Ryan Donahue have been locked in a tight competition for the combo role of punter and holder.
Graham did all of the holding for kicker Jason Hanson on Thursday, which appears to be a strong indication that he’s going to get the job.
Nevertheless, it was Donahue who was called on for the first punt. They rotated the rest of the night until the end when the Lions needed a good punt to hold off the Bills’ rally.
That’s when Schwartz went with Graham. With the game on the line, Graham drove a 49-yard punt out of the bounds at the Buffalo 33 with 1:45 remaining.
The Lions held on.
“Ben bailed us out,” Schwartz said. “We were gassed on special teams. We needed him to paint the sideline.”
Graham did just that, and it looks more and more like he’ll be the man.
The following players were not in uniform for the Lions: running backs Kevin Smith and Stefan Logan, receiver Titus Young, cornerbacks Chris Houston and Bill Bentley, Delmas, linebackers Stephen Tulloch and Travis Lewis, defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch and defensive tackle Corey Williams.