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Thursday, September 3, 2009
Observations from Bills-Lions preseason finale



Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Some random thoughts from Thursday night's preseason finale in Ralph Wilson Stadium, where the Detroit Lions beat the Buffalo Bills 17-6.

The Bills' first-team offense didn't play, ensuring it finishes the preseason without a touchdown. The first-unit offensive line went a few series, but none of the skill players did. Trent Edwards, Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson, Terrell Owens and Lee Evans all got the night off.

For the record, the Bills' first unit played 16 series. It ran 78 plays for 269 net yards. The possessions ended in nine punts, three interceptions, two fumbles, one field goal and halftime.

Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson looked like Montana and Rice. Of course, it must be noted the Bills opened with their second-string defense. But it sure was fun to watch Johnson perform. He had two catches for 46 yards and had a 34-yard touchdown nullified by a holding call.

The Bills' second-team defense showed flashes against the Lions' first-team offense. Rookie pass-rusher Aaron Maybin got to Stafford for a strip sack the Bills recovered. Defensive tackle John McCargo also notched a sack in the first quarter. Reggie Corner intercepted Stafford on the opening play of the second quarter.

Rookie guards Eric Wood and Andy Levitre played the entire first half. The rest of the starting line came out a few series earlier, but head coach Dick Jauron wanted the newbies to get as many game reps as possible. Before they exited, left tackle Langston Walker was flagged for holding and center Geoff Hangartner committed a false start.

Steve Johnson shook off a rough start to make a couple of sensational plays. Johnson dropped a pass and was whistled for a false start in the first half. But he played most of the game and became Gibran Hamdan's favorite target in the second half. Johnson made a pair of phenomenal catches for 27 and 33 yards despite tight coverage in the third quarter.

Rough night for tight ends Derek Schouman and Jonathan Stupar. Schouman fumbled the ball on consecutive receptions in the first quarter. He gathered the first one himself, but lost the second. Stupar dropped two passes in the first half.

Rookie defensive back Ellis Lankster is fun to watch. The seventh-round draft pick keeps standing out. He made some mental mistakes, but there's a crackle about him. The stat team credited Lankster with three tackles, including one for a 1-yard loss. He had a 23-yard punt return.

The Bills' punt return team burnt by another fake. In the Hall of Fame Game, the Tennessee Titans ran a brilliant fake that sprung punter A.J. Trapasso for a 40-yard touchdown. The Lions ripped off a 20-yarder at the end of the third quarter Thursday night.