The Lions, desperately trying to rally and send the game into overtime needed the fourth-down conversion to stay alive. They lined up in an I-formation with two tight ends flanking each side of the line tightly. The Bills countered with a 5-4 look – three linemen and two linebackers on each side of the line, with two linebackers and two safeties in back.
Harrington took the snap and handed off to tailback James Stewart, who followed fullback Cory Schlesinger’s lead block.
Weakside linebacker Eddie Robinson met Schlesinger’s block and maintained his ground, while left end Chidi Ahanotu penetrated upfield, allowing middle linebacker London Fletcher to slip by and meet Stewart head on behind the line. He stopped the running back’s momentum and then Coy Wire and DaShon Polk came into clean up. The Bills simply out-muscled the Lions and won the play. Buffalo then ran out the clock.
“We saw it develop and our guys reacted and played hard and very physical at that point of time,” Gregg Williams said. “You can’t step back and wait for it to happen. You’ve got to initiate the attack yourself and they did.”
“That fourth down play was a huge play. Who knows what happens if they convert that,” said Fletcher. “I was fortunate that coach put me in great position to make a great play. The defensive line did a tremendous job … Everybody did their job.”
Lions Coach Marty Mornhinweg said, “London Fletcher made a heckuva play. We thought we had something there. It was simple; we didn’t get it done. We were stopped twice on fourth downs (this game): one on a pass and one on a run. Good football teams make those fourth downs.”