Orchard Park, N.Y. — For the second time this season, Detroit Lions linebacker Jarrad Davis left a stadium shouldering the guilt and frustrations of a difficult loss.
Davis, who led the Lions with nine tackles on Sunday, jumped offside late in the fourth quarter, negating a third-down stop and paving the way for the Buffalo Bills to retain possession and seal a 14-13 victory.
On the third-and-7 snap coming out of the two-minute warning, cornerback Darius Slay made a diving pass breakup to seemingly force a punt, before the official announced Davis had jumped early and the down would be replayed.
“It’s a crucial situation,” Davis said. “It’s a got-to-have-it situation and you’ve got to make plays. You can’t have mental errors like that and a mental error killed us.”
Davis, who as the middle linebacker is responsible for calling the defense and ensuring his teammates are properly aligned, got caught taking his eyes off the ball to double-check the defensive setup. And when he turned back around, he was thrown off by quarterback Josh Allen’s adjusted cadence, luring him to jump early.
The Lions had two more opportunities to stop the Bills, and did so on third-and-2, before Allen’s leaping sneak was enough to convert fourth-and-inches and allow him to take a knee to run out the clock.
While Davis accepted the full weight of his mistake on the game's outcome, his coach, Matt Patricia, pointed out there were a number of plays that played a role in the loss, not just one. And Damon Harrison, the team’s outstanding nose tackle, shifted the blame to himself for not stopping Allen on fourth down.
“No, it’s not (Davis') fault, at all,” Harrison said. “We had the opportunity to get the ball back. They ran the QB sneak and I was right there up the middle and I didn’t get it done. No matter the situation or circumstance, in a situation like that, I’d hope I’d be at the point of attack. I feel like I can make the play and I didn’t. That has nothing to do with JD or anybody else. That’s solely on my shoulders.”
This isn’t the first time Davis has had to board the team’s plane this season while struggling with a late mistake in a road loss. Against Dallas in Week 4, he was beat by running back Ezekiel Elliott in man-to-man coverage for a 34-yard completion, setting up the winning field goal for the Cowboys.
Fellow captain Devon Kennard said he’s confident Davis will bounce back, once again.
“He’s been playing his butt off all season,” Kennard said. “He’s a vocal leader on the defense, calling everything. JD is playing great ball right now. He’s human. I’m sure he wishes he could get that back, but you’ve got to brush that off and get ready for next week. He’ll be fine.”
Davis leads the Lions with 88 tackles this season and is third with five sacks.