ORCHARD PARK – Detroit Lions fans have gotten so used to kicker Matt Prater being just about as automatic as they come late in games, they probably had to do a double take when the officials signaled his late fourth-quarter field goal try was no good Sunday.
Prater missed wide right on a 48-yard attempt with 5:50 left in the fourth quarter that would have given the Lions a 16-14 lead in what eventually turned into a 14-13 defeat. The loss ended any hopes of the Lions making the playoffs.
It's a kick in that situation Prater hasn't missed in three years, and it had him frustrated in the locker room after the game.
"I just didn't hit it where I wanted to hit it," he said. "I don't have an excuse. I let everyone down, including myself. I expect to make those kicks and I have in the past, so it's frustrating anytime you don't come through when you get a big opportunity for your team. It's frustrating for sure."
Prater said the wind was a little right to left, but he simply pushed it farther right than he wanted.
He entered the game with one of the best field goal percentages in the NFL. He's hit 24 of his 27 attempts this season, but was 0-for-1 Sunday, and it was a big miss.
"Hopefully learn from it and don't let history repeat itself," Prater said.
SPECIAL TEAMS MISTAKES
Another special teams blunder in the second quarter kept points off the board for the Lions.
Long snapper Don Muhlbach was also frustrated with himself in the locker room after the game after his snap on an extra point attempt in the second quarter bounced to holder Sam Martin, who wasn't able to corral it.
All Martin could do was pop up and look to make a play, before wisely deciding to throw the ball away. It cost the Lions an extra point in a one-point loss.
"I just didn't do my job," Muhlbach said after the game. "I let everyone here down. I'll just try to go back and work harder."
Like Prater, mistakes by Muhlbach are fairly rare. Having two of the them in the same game in a one-point loss kind of sums up the 2018 season for the Lions.
The Lions' defense thought it had gotten off the field and had given its offense one more chance to potentially win the game late in the fourth quarter when cornerback Darius Slay broke up a Josh Allen pass intended for Bills wide receiver Robert Foster on 3rd and 7 with 1:56 left in the game.
But there on the field, right at the line of scrimmage, lay a yellow flag. Lions second-year linebacker Jarrad Davis was offsides on the play. Buffalo got new life with a 3rd and 2. Two plays later they converted a 4th and inches to win the game.
"Just the cadence," Davis said of the play. "He did a good job with his cadence. Like I said, I lost focus on the ball, looked out and I came back in and just didn't look at the ball. To lose the opportunity to miss that chance, hurt the team."
View in-game photos from the Detroit Lions Week 15 game against the Buffalo BIlls.
- Wide receiver Andy Jones recorded his first career touchdown reception in the second quarter on a four-yard pass from Stafford. He followed that up with a great tackle on the ensuing kickoff. "It was a great experience," Jones said of the touchdown after the game. "I thank god for it."
- Linebacker Devon Kennard recorded a sack in the game to give him a career-high 7.0 for the year. That also leads the Lions.
- The Lions recorded 313 yards of total offense. Buffalo had 312.