DETROIT — It’s in the biggest moments, Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs said while wearing a Dog bone necklace, when he feels the most comfortable.
And that paid off for the Bills in a big way in the team’s 28-25 Thanksgiving Day win over the Detroit Lions. After surrendering a five-point lead in the fourth quarter, the Bills’ offense responded with back-to-back scoring drives, including a 21-second game-winning drive that ended in a 45-yard field goal by kicker Tyler Bass.
Bass made the kick after missing an extra point attempt on the previous drive that allowed the Lions to tie the score.
“I don’t think you understand how big it is for a guy to do that in this league,” quarterback Josh Allen said. “For [Bass] just to feel that roller coaster of emotions to go step up and build up for our team and nail it.”
Bass made the kick with seven seconds remaining. He made all six of his field goal attempts the previous week and went 2 for 2 in the win over the Lions with two kicks over 45 yards. It was the first time he had missed an extra point attempt in the regular season since 2020.
“I just knew we were going to have another chance, you know, given our offense,” Bass said. “I just knew another chance is going to pop up and I got to be ready for it. And I just quickly reset and just got to my next process.”
The Bills first took the lead thanks to a solid drive by Allen that went 90 yards in 14 plays and took over six minutes. On that drive, everything that the Bills had been struggling with all game seemingly disappeared. Allen went 7 of 8 for 49 yards and a score and was pressured just once on eight dropbacks after being pressured 36% of the time prior to the drive. The Bills were without starting center Mitch Morse, and left tackle Dion Dawkins missed the second half with an ankle injury.
Diggs and Allen connected in a way they had not all game (4-of-4 for 29 yards and a 5-yard touchdown pass), and the team did not need a single third down.
“You don’t need to say much to Diggs. You can see it in his eyes,” right guard Ryan Bates said of the receiver on the final two drives. “He gets in the huddle, he’s locked in, he’s ready to go. So, there’s not much you need to say to him. You look at him, ‘Hey, love you guys, let’s f—ing do it.’ But when he gets that look in his eye, you can’t tell him anything. He’s going out there, he’s going to do his thing.”
Allen’s scoring pass to Diggs was his fourth career go-ahead touchdown in the final three minutes of regulation, tying him with Kirk Cousins and Justin Herbert for the most by any quarterback in the past three seasons. Allen finished 24 of 42 for 253 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He was also the team’s leading rusher with 10 carries for 78 yards and a score.
After the Lions scored the field goal on a 10-play, 42-yard drive that took 2:17, Allen responded quickly. The first play from the Bills’ 25-yard line was a 36-yard pass to Diggs that was the longest play from scrimmage for either team.
“I was anticipating not getting behind them, but maybe getting a one-on-one,” Diggs said of the play. “If I got a one-on-one, I was, Josh was going to take it, I felt like. Him having confidence in me, getting behind the defense, or seeing the same thing. If they are playing top-down coverage, I kind of slow down a little bit, like, damn maybe the ball is coming, and it was. He threw another missile. You remember last week, he threw it and almost fell. I think that was a similar ball, it was coming [at] the same velocity. So, no heightened anxiety in the moment.”
Allen said the play was something they had thought of because of a similar look in a previous game.
“They played like a little two-man concept and me and [offensive coordinator Ken] Dorsey kind of talked about that a few days ago,” Allen said. “When I saw the same look in a previous game and just said, ‘Hey, let’s put this play in just in case we might need it.’ We found it and Stef ran a heck of a route and just gave him a chance and he made a heck of a play.”
Two runs by Allen followed and then the game-winning kick by Bass. The Bills became the first team to start a drive in the last 25 seconds of regulation at their own 25-yard line or deeper to score since the Kansas City Chiefs’ 13-second scoring drive in the 2021 divisional playoffs against the Bills to force overtime.
Buffalo is now 22-1 when Allen has a rushing and passing touchdown in the regular season. Diggs caught all five of his targets on the final two drives for 65 yards after catching only three of nine targets the rest of the game.
“That’s what great players do — they step up in those big moments,” coach Sean McDermott said. “And they make big plays in big moments of games like this.”