ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. The finally have their first win of the season. The own the NFL’s road futility record.
Fred Jackson ran for a season-best 133 yards and scored twice in leading the Bills (1-8) to a 14-12 win over the Lions on Sunday. Detroit (2-7) lost its 25th straight road game to break the record the Lions set from 2001-03.
And yes, this contest wasn’t pretty. It was played under rain-soaked conditions, befitting the sloppy — and sometimes laughable — performances of two perennial losers in a game that wasn’t decided until the final seconds.
That’s when Bills safety George Wilson recovered an onside kick and handed the ball to Chan Gailey, in honor of the coach’s first win in Buffalo since he took over in January.
The Lions, who never led, nearly pulled off a dramatic comeback when quarterback Shaun Hill hit Calvin Johnson for a 20-yard touchdown pass to cut the Bills lead to 14-12 with 14 seconds left. Hill failed on the 2-point conversion when he couldn’t find an open receiver, and eventually overthrew tight end Brandon Pettigrew in the back of the end zone.
The Bills became the NFL’s final team to win this season, and ended what had been their third-worst start to a season — and worst since going 0-11 in 1984.
The Lions have not won a game outside of Detroit in more than three years since a 16-7 victory at Chicago on Oct. 28, 2007.
Jackson opened the scoring with a 1-yard plunge two minutes into the second quarter. He then appeared to put the Bills in control by scoring on a 16-yard catch off a shovel pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick on Buffalo’s opening drive of the second half.
Fitzpatrick was 12 of 24 for 146 yards and a touchdown.
Hill finished 29 of 50 for 323 yards with a TD and an interception in making his first start in three games since breaking his left arm. Hill was forced back into action in place of Matthew Stafford, who hurt his right shoulder in a loss to the last week. Johnson had 10 catches for 128 yards.
Mistakes dominated a game between teams that haven’t reached the playoffs since the 1999 season, sharing the league’s longest active drought.
The Lions were penalized 11 times for 60 yards and had difficulty getting their offense going until the fourth quarter. They were forced to punt eight times. And Hill’s interception proved costly, setting up Jackson’s first score.
The Bills were equally inefficient.
Their defense squandered two chances to stop the Lions on their final possession of the first half, which ended with Dave Rayner hitting a 25-yard field goal to cut Buffalo’s lead to 7-3 as time ran out. The most comical play came when Bills linebacker Arthur Moats tipped Hill’s pass into the air, where three Bills players converged only to crash into each other and drop the ball.
Late in the third quarter, a holding penalty on Buffalo’s John Corto negated what would’ve been Leodis McKelvin’s 78-yard punt return for a touchdown with 5:40 left in the third quarter. And the Bills usually reliable kicker Rian Lindell missed a 41-yard field goal attempt wide right with the wind at his back at the end of the third quarter, which could’ve put Buffalo ahead 17-3.
Rayner, however, responded on the following possession by missing a 49-yard attempt wide right.
The Bills won despite losing rookie running back C.J. Spiller, who hurt his hamstring returning a punt in the second quarter. Buffalo also lost defensive end Spencer Johnson to a hamstring injury in the second half.
Rayner’s field goal was the first attempted and made by a Lions player other than Jason Hanson in 19 seasons. The Lions had signed Rayner this week after Hanson sprained his knee last week.