The Buffalo Bills took over Canton, Ohio this weekend with the induction of Andre Reed into the Hall of Fame, but they were unable to secure a victory in the Hall of Fame game, losing 17-13 to the New York Giants.
Though the Bills lost their first meaningless game of the preseason, they had their bright spots, along with some trouble areas. They were leading for most of the game, until the defensive unit got burned by a 72-yard bomb early in the fourth quarter, which proved to be the deciding factor. EJ Manuel looked decent in his two drives, though he had his share of errors. Manuel hit Mike Williams in the hands on a streak in the endzone, which Williams dropped. He followed that play with two passes knocked down in dangerous areas and failed to get his offense into the endzone. Sammy Watkins did not have a catch in his two series, though Manuel looked for him twice, over-throwing him once and eyeing him down resulting in a near-interception on the second target.
- Robert Woods scored Buffalo's only touchdown on a fourth down pass from Jeff Tuel. Woods didn't get any time with the starters, which was a surprise. But he looked solid and ready to take the next step after a productive rookie season.
- Bryce Brown showed his speed and ability to hit the holes, though he was playing against likely bubble-players in the third quarter. Brown seemed to look better than Anthony Dixon, who was next in line to get reps after Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller.
- Jeff Tuel looked comfortable running Buffalo's offense. His touchdown pass to Woods was Buffalo's only one.
- Kyle Williams and Brandon Spikes looked good for the Bills defensively. Spikes stopped the run well for Buffalo in his two series and Williams forced a fumble while sacking Eli Manning. The Giants didn't score a point against Buffalo's No. 1 unit, though Manning and Co. did stay out to take advantage of Buffalo's second stringers.
- Duke Williams showed that he can hit hard, and tackle well. Williams delivered the hit of the game near the sidelines, and made an impressive open field tackle on a third down play.
- Thad Lewis looked absolutely horrible. The quarterback that helped salvage part of Buffalo's season when Manuel went down last season seemed to have taken steps backwards. He lacked pocket presence, which was a knock on him last season, and seemed lost on the field.
- TJ Graham is likely going to be the odd-man out in the receiving corps this season. Graham was responsible for a few dropped passes and did a poor job on protecting a pass thrown to him by Tuel in the endzone toward the end of the first half. The ball popped up into the air and was intercepted.
- Turnovers were an issue for Buffalo. After creating a turnover early in the game, the Bills coughed the ball up twice on interceptions. Ball security will be a huge goal for Buffalo coming into the season.
All in all, the Bills can call the Hall of Fame game a success. There were no injuries, and it wasn't the typical sloppy first game of the year that usually takes place. As the preseason continues, all eyes will remain on Manuel and Watkins as both are expected to play huge roles in the team's pursuit of the playoffs.
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