NEW YORK GIANTS 17 – BUFFALO BILLS 13…
For one final time, 24 hours after being inducted into football immortality, Michael Strahan found himself surrounded by his New York Giants’ teammates again.
Standing in the middle of the team’s huddle near midfield, dressed in his gold Hall of Fame jacket, Strahan looked around at all of those surrounding him. Sure, only three remained from the last time he suited up, but that didn’t matter.
Nor did it stop him from’ stomping them out’ one last time.
After the pregame antics, this year’s New York Giants and this year’s Buffalo Bills took the field for the first football game of the 2014 season. The game had its highs and its lows. Below you will find a few quick hits and observations from New York’s 17-13 victory.
Starting defensive line
- It was a good first outing for the Giants’ starting front four. In its two possessions versus the Bills’ starters, the defense escaped nearly unscathed and had two bat downs. Bills’ quarterback E.J. Manuel completed just 2-of-7 passes while Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller gained only eight combined yards.
- Throughout training camp, Giants’ running back Andre Williams has flashed with his quickness and agility, despite being labeled a ‘bruising’ back. Sunday night, he displayed all aspects of his game. There was the quickness, getting to the second level in no time at all. The power, fighting his way in for a goal-line touchdown. The only thing keeping Williams from earning Shockey-like hype following the game was if he was able to catch a hands-reception out of the backfield.
- During the Giants’ first two offensive possessions, the team didn’t let a fullback touch the field, electing to work primarily with tight ends. The result? A three-and-out and turnover via fumble. The next drive, fullback Henry Hynoski checked in and down the field went the Giants. Hynoski paved the way for Williams and Rashad Jennings (seven rushes, 23 yards). He also led the way for Williams’ goal-line touchdown.
- After checking into the game with primarily third teamers, Bromley instantly stood out. New York’s third-round pick made a stop on third-and-one and pressured the quarterback countless other times. It’ll be interesting to see if Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin gives Bromley some work against superior talent next week.
- Ugh. For a player on the roster bubble, Sunday couldn’t have gone much worse for Jayron Hosley. The Giants’ former third-round pick was beaten several times -once for a touchdown on fourth down – and was called for numerous penalties. On an evening when so many players showed so much good, Hosley stood out as being noticeably bad.
- Switching on and off with Henry Hynoski, there were two specific plays where ‘The Terminator’ whiffed badly on blocks. Once, Andre Williams got around and managed to turn a disaster into a positive play. Another, Michael Cox was stuffed in the backfield. Playing a position the team is reportedly thinking of getting rid of, it doesn’t bode well to start being noticed for the wrong reasons.
- Earlier this week, Eli Manning and quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf talked about how the team’s goal was to have Manning complete 70 percent of his passes. While the comment was laughed off by many, Manning showed Sunday that number may not be as comical as originally believed. After missing his first pass, Manning completed his next six. While the long-developing deep throws he’d grown accustomed to were gone, Manning looked extremely comfortable in offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s West Coast Offense. Manning showed nice footwork, an understanding of the offense and some nice accuracy.
- Antrel Rolle talked about how excited he was to see Giants’ safety Nat Berhe put on the pads. The rookie didn’t disappoint. In the third quarter, Berhe came in and laid a hit on Chris Gragg jarring the ball loose. Berhe flashed a few times, especially with his physicality.
- During training camp, Giants’ receiver Corey Washington has flashed time and time again as he’s routinely gotten down the field for deep touchdowns. Two days ago, Washington caught caught a 50+ yard touchdown pass from Curtis Painter. In Sunday’s Hall of Fame game, it was another 50+ yard touchdown, 73 to be exact, but this one from Ryan Nassib. Washington got beyond his defender by a step, but then came back to an under thrown ball to make the grab. If Washington continues to impress, it’ll be tough to let him go on cut-down day.
— NFL (@nfl) August 4, 2014
- Playing with a very, very poor third-string offensive line, Michael Cox showed some flashes. One in particular play stood out. On a screen pass, the Buffalo Bills brought a near all-out blitz. Cox lowered his shoulder to chip an incoming blitzer, then snuck behind the defense to set up for a screen. The play worked, largely because of Cox’s block.
- There is nothing, and I mean nothing, flashy about Peyton Hillis, but he continues to prove he’s a very serviceable running back. Hillis packs a punch, can catch and can block. He displayed two of those three skill sets on Sunday and continues to show he’s a valuable part of the Giants’ team.
- It was nice to see Mario Manningham get in the game and catch a pass. He’s not the same player he used to be, may not have a spot on the Giants’ roster, but to see the former Super Bowl hero out there again is heart warming.
- Marcus Harris, who saw playing time before Manningham, showed that his training camp success is beginning to translate on the field. Harris finished with four receptions for 49 yards including an impressive 25-yard catch-and-run. The bottom of the Giants’ depth chart is littered with raw talent at the receiver position.
- He’s gonna show up here twice, but Ryan Nassib looked both good, and very, very, ugly. Then again, that’s the same Nassib that’s shown up at training camp. When he’s on, Nassib has the mobility, accuracy and arm strength to be a good quarterback in the NFL. He showed that multiple times Sunday
- The Giants’ woes at tight end continue. While Larry Donnell flashed as a receiver, his blocking is still a huge work in progress. On two separate occasions on the team’s first two drives, Donnell motioned into the backfield just to be blown up. On another, Donnell failed to control Mario Williams on the line. All three plays, Rashad Jennings was brought down for no gain or a loss.
- It wasn’t that Charles James II had a bad game, but he did miss two tackles that should have been givens. On another play, a 26-yard catch-and-run from Bills’ receiver Rob Woods, James was knocked off coverage on a pick play.
- Kerry Wynn had a sack. That’s good. Kerry Wynn tried to pick up a fumble with under two minutes to play and run with it, bobbled the ball, then the Bills recovered. That’s bad. It’s a young player looking to make a play, but he’s gotta know to fall on that.
Here’s Ryan Nassib again. The biggest issue with the second-year quarterback is when he gets pressured, he makes some really bad decisions. As was the case on his intentional grounding call and interception. Both times Nassib had someone in his face. Both times Nassib made a terrible decision.
- Cooper Taylor didn’t have a very good day on special teams. He flashed and was physical on defense, but he also let up a punt block and got pancaked on the next attempt. Special teams may not be Taylor’s strongest area, but he’s gotta be better than he was Sunday night.