DETROIT — Dwayne Washington took a handoff to the left and with a burst of speed, the rookie running back got to the outside and up the sideline for a 58-yard touchdown to likely seal his chances of earning a spot on Detroit’s opening-day roster.
Jake Rudock probably boosted his chances, too, with three touchdown passes to help the Lions close the preseason with a 31-0 win over Buffalo Bills on Thursday night.
“So many guys played well,” Detroit coach Jim Caldwell said. “It’ll make it tough on us in terms of making decisions.”
With Washington, he seemed to make it an easy choice for the Lions to find a spot for him on the team as a reserve running back and contributor on special teams.
Washington, a seventh-round pick from Washington, had a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and scored on a run earlier in the preseason, leading to the Lions cutting Stevan Ridley last week.
“Once he gets a crack, he can do something with it,” Caldwell said.
Like a vast majority of starters on both sides, Washington watched much of the game after he ran for 68 yards on seven carries.
Rudock made the most of an extended opportunity to play with starter Matthew Stafford sitting out and Dan Orlovsky playing only in the first quarter.
“That’s huge for a quarterback,” Rudock said. “You can kind of get in a flow and into a groove and you start to see things.”
Rudock lofted a 2-yard TD pass to Jay Lee to give Detroit a 17-0 lead late in the first half. He drove Detroit down the field late in the third quarter, converting third downs with his arms and leg, and scrambled to buy time on a 10-yard TD pass to Jace Billingsley, who snagged the ball with his left hand. Rudock connected with rookie tight end Adam Fuehne on another TD pass, putting the Lions up 31-0 midway through the fourth quarter.
“That was a really disappointing game — just a stinker,” Bills coach Rex Ryan said.
Ryan seemed determined to get his team on and off the field as quickly as possible, trying to limit injuries and to avoid showing future opponents anything to help them game plan. It didn’t go as planned, though, because he had a handful of players go down with injuries.
Buffalo ran plays out of the wishbone early in the game and punt returner Greg Salas called for a fair catch once in the first half even though a Lions player wasn’t within 15 yards of him.
Bills: QB Cardale Jones entered the game early in the second quarter after EJ Manuel was just 1 of 5 for 10 yards. The fourth-round pick from Ohio State struggled, but Ryan blamed the offensive line more than Jones. “We could have had Jim Kelly in his prime back there, and he wouldn’t have had a chance behind that protection,” Ryan said. “We basically didn’t get to see anything other than him running for his life.”
Lions: Rudock may give the franchise a young quarterback to develop behind starter Matthew Stafford and veteran backup Dan Orlovsky. He has shown the ability to make plays and limit mistakes this preseason, much as he did after a slow start under Jim Harbaugh last season at Michigan.
Bills: CB Sammy Seamster stunted his stock, missing a chance to tackle Washington before he sprinted down the sideline and getting beat on Rudock’s first TD pass.
Bills: RB James Wilder walked off the field after being hurt while covering a punt and was evaluated for a possible concussion. DE Jerel Worthy was helped off the field in the last minute of the first half. Worthy was evaluated for a concussion and cleared to return, a good sign for the Bills, who need depth on the line with DT Marcell Dareus missing the first four games for violating the substance abuse policy. TE Blake Annen (neck), S Colt Anderson (foot), OT Marquis Lucas (ankle) also were injured.
Lions: Did not announce any injuries during game.