Detroit Lions defensive end Austin Bryant said he did not realize Josh Allen had thrown the ball when he whipped the Buffalo Bills quarterback to the ground late in the fourth quarter of Buffalo’s 28-25 come-from-behind victory Thursday, but Bryant said that’s no excuse for the roughing the passer penalty he incurred on the play.
“I definitely take full ownership for that penalty,” Bryant told the Free Press after the game. “There’s no excuse, no matter if I seen him throw it or not. Just got to be better, have my head up on it.”
Bryant’s penalty came on an incomplete pass on second-and-10 with 3:22 to play, when he bull-rushed past left tackle David Quessenberry and spun Allen to the ground after Allen threw a pass to Stefon Diggs. The penalty gave the Bills a fresh set of downs and the ball at the Lions’ 7-yard line.
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Buffalo trailed, 22-19, at the time, and scored the go-ahead touchdown two plays later on a 5-yard pass from Allen to Diggs.
If not for the penalty, the Bills (8-3) would have been in third-and-10 from the 15.
Bills kicker Tyler Bass missed the extra point after Diggs’ touchdown and the Lions rallied for the game-tying field goal on the ensuing possession, only to watch Allen drive Buffalo 48 yards in three plays to set up Bass’ game-winning field goal.
“Man, I was just going, in the moment, rush, he’s a big quarterback,” Bryant said. “Didn’t know he was throwing the ball and slung him down. It’s unfortunate but I’m trying my best, going as hard as I can to help the team win. It’s unfortunate that they made that call. I thought we still had chances to win the game.”
The Lions (4-7) committed just four penalties Thursday, but two came in the final four minutes of the fourth quarter. Right tackle Penei Sewell had a false start with 37 seconds to play that left the Lions in second-and-15 on their final possession.
Jared Goff threw a 14-yard pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown on the next play, then threw incomplete on third-and-1 as the Lions settled for a field goal.
Jerry Jacobs also had two penalties (one declined) on the same drive in the third quarter.
Lions coach Dan Campbell said he made it a point of emphasis with his pass rushers before the game to avoid late hits on Allen.
“They should know better,” Campbell said. “That was one of the things we talked about. That (officiating) crew is, unnecessary roughness and you get close to the quarterback, they’re going to call it. So they’ve been educated on that and it just comes down to discipline.”
Jacobs left in the fourth quarter after he came up slow after diving to the ground for a tackle attempt on Diggs.
“I know he felt a little light-headed,” Campbell said. “There’s a chance he goes into concussion protocol, but yet, we never really saw him bang his head. He feels a little off, so we’ll see.”
Diggs appeared to hit Jacobs in the face mask as he knocked the Lions cornerback to the ground one play before Jacobs left with his injury.
Lions linebacker Julian Okwara also suffered an elbow injury in the third quarter when he tried to brace himself as he went to the ground while rushing Allen.