Halftime report: Washington steals show for Lions
Detroit — Matthew Stafford didn’t play. Darius Slay? Nope. Ezekiel Ansah? Not a chance. The young offensive line still building chemistry? Not even they could be bothered.
The Lions’ exhibition finale against the Buffalo Bills was largely a showcase of the backups. And wouldn’t you know it, it looked a lot like you’d expect a game played by backups to look.
Outside of a 58-yard touchdown run by Lions running back Dwayne Washington, there wasn’t much action in the opening half of the contest.
Washington’s scoring romp came on the third snap of the game. Taking the handoff from quarterback Dan Orlovsky, the big back headed around the left edge and raced back an unblocked Bills defender down the sideline.
The big play put an exclamation point on Washington’s impressive preseason that included a kickoff return for a touchdown in the opener and a short scoring run against Cincinnati in the second game of the slate.
He finished the first half with 68 yards on seven carries.
The Lions added a field goal on their second possession after the Bills turned it over on downs near midfield. Detroit moved the ball just 20 yards, but well into Matt Prater’s field goal range, allowing the kicker to knock it home from 45 yards.
With the Lions out to a quick 10-0 advantage, both offenses went cold, coming for eight punts and a failed fourth-down conversion for Detroit.
The home team got back on track at the end of the second quarter with a 57-yard touchdown drive led by backup quarterback Jake Rudock. The rookie completed four of his eight throws for 38 yards during the possession, including a two-yard score on a fade to undrafted rookie wide receiver Jay Lee to cap the series.
Lee led the Lions at the half with six receptions for 78 yards and the score. He had caught just three passes for 15 yards in the previous three games.
Defensively, Detroit dominated Buffalo’s second- and third-stringers. The Bills gained just 45 yards through two quarters as the Lions’ defensive line got steady pressure on the quarterback.
Defensive ends Anthony Zettel and Kerry Hyder, both looking to make a final push for a roster spot, combined to record three sacks. Defensive tackles Caraun Reid and A’Shawn Robinson chipped in three tackles for loss, with Robinson’s stop coming on a fourth-down play.
Rookie linebacker Antwione Williams also shined, leading the team with six tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage.
The only projected starters to play in the contest for the Lions were defensive end Devin Taylor, linebacker Kyle Van Noy and either Tavon Wilson or Rafael Bush, who came into the game still competing for the starting safety job next to Glover Quin.
Up next for the Lions is roster cuts. The team must trim the roster from 75 to 53 by 4 p.m. Saturday. They’ll then begin preparation for the season opener, Sept. 11 in Indianapolis.