BUFFALO –Nearly all of Detroit's starters received a night off Thursday in the preseason finale, which meant this night was reserved for backups and players trying to win a job.
The cut down to 53 players is just two days away, so this was the last chance for bubble players to make an impression.
It was the Bills' backups who were better in just about every phase for the vast majority in this one, putting Detroit in an early hole they just couldn't quite climb all the way out of.
Too many holes on defense, and too many mistakes on offense, doomed the second and third units for Detroit. A fumble (Jared Abbrederis), an interception by Brad Kaaya in the Bills end zone, and a slew of penalties put the Lions behind 27-3 in the fourth quarter.
View in-game photos from the Detroit Lions' 2017 preseason finale against the Buffalo Bills.
Detroit got a 74-yard touchdown reception by Tion Green and a six-yard touchdown catch by Dontez Ford in the fourth quarter to make the game respectable at 27-17, but the game ultimately ended on a Kaaya fumble, Detroit's third turnover of the game.
QB Comparison: Jake Rudock played the entire first half (four series), and led the Lions to one score, a 53-yard Matt Prater field goal. He completed six of his nine passes for just 41 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. He finished with a passer rating of 76.6.
Kaaya took over in the second half and completed 12-of-20 passes for 182 yards with two touchdowns, an interception and a fumble. His final passer rating was 102.5.
Stock up: Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, Zach Zenner and Dwayne Washington all didn't play Thursday for the Lions, which meant Green and Matt Asiata were going to carry the load for Detroit's running game.
It's unclear if Detroit will keep more than four running backs on the 53-man roster, but Green certainly gave GM Bob Quinn and Co. something to talk about in the personnel meetings Friday and Saturday.
Green had a couple nice runs, finishing with 63 yards on eight carries.
His most impressive play of the game, however, was a 74-yard touchdown reception in which he took a short screen pass and weaved in and out of defenders all the way to the end zone. He finished with a combined 152 yards of total offense.
Stock down: It was clear from the get-go that Bills quarterback Nathan Peterman had a plan to attack Lions rookie cornerback Teez Tabor. Peterman completed four passes on Tabor in the first quarter, though Tabor did have a pass defended mixed in there too.
Tabor also missed an open-field tackle that would have prevented Bills running back Jonathan Williams from getting into the end zone on a 21-yard first quarter touchdown run.
Tabor isn't expected to be a starter next week vs. Arizona — Those jobs will go to Darius Slay, Nevin Lawson and Quandre Diggs (slot). The Lions have a plan to work him along slow, which is typically a good one for rookie cornerbacks.
Making a case for roster inclusion: Safety Charles Washington appears to be battling veteran Don Carey for the fourth and what could potentially be the final safety spot on the 53-man roster. Washington was active Thursday night, both as a pass defender, in run support and on special teams.
He had seven tackles on defense and also made three stops on special teams, which would probably be his initial role on the 53-man roster if he does make it.
Carey is one of the best special teams players in the league, but Washington certainly didn't hurt his chances in Buffalo.
Competition spotlight: Who will join Ziggy Ansah, Cornelius Washington and Anthony Zettel in the defensive end rotation Week 1 of the regular season? There's a distinct possibility that player isn't currently on the roster, but we should see one of the team's young defensive ends on the initial 53-man roster. So who will it be?
Here's what the top three candidates did in their preseason finale:
Alex Barrett – three tackles, one quarterback hit, two penalties
Pat O'Connor – one tackle, two penalties
Jeremiah Valoaga – one tackle
Injury report: Tackle Cornelius Lucas, who is probably the team's third tackle Week 1 with Corey Robinson still on PUP, injured an ankle and did not return.
Quotable: "It goes player by player, we'll have to take a look," Lions head coach Jim Caldwell told FOX 2 at halftime about the roster evaluation for this game.
"Some guys look like they're doing a pretty good job out there, but far too many penalties. We're a little bit too sloppy and the turnover hurt us as well."