On Saturday night, it was Michael Strahan's night (along with Andre Reed's) to be enshrined into the National Football Hall of Fame. On Sunday night, it was their former team's turns to kick off the 2014 preseason schedule.
The two teams that met in Super Bowl XXV some 23 years ago; the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills, met again on Sunday night in Canton, Ohio as part of the Hall of Fame game and just like it happened 23 years ago (well, minus the Scott Norwood missed field goal), the Giants came away with the victory as they defeated the Buffalo Bills 17-13.
After the two teams traded punts in their first series, it was the Bills who made the first big play of the game; a play that made Giants fans cringing because of the reminder that was the 2013 season, as Eli Manning was sacked by Kyle Williams, fumbled the ball and was recovered by former Giants linebacker, now Bills linebacker Keith Rivers on the Giants 22 yard-line. The Giants defense though, held Buffalo to just 10 yards over the next series and forced Buffalo to attempt a field goal, which was converted by Dan Carpenter from 30 yards and gave Buffalo a 3-0 lead with 7:53 left in the first quarter.
The Giants though, responded with a 12-play, 7:04 drive that saw five first downs and a possible sign of things to come with an effective running game behind Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams. Williams, who finished with seven carries for 48 yards, picked up the Giants first touchdown of the game with a three-yard carry into the endzone with :49 left in the quarter and gave the Giants a 7-3 lead. Following this series, Manning came out of the game as he went 6-for-7 with 43 yards (85.7 completion percentage.)
The Bills responded on their next drive with a 15-play, 75-yard drive that took up almost seven minutes and saw backup Jeff Tuel toss a two-yard touchdown pass to Robert Woods and gave Buffalo a 10-7 lead in the second quarter.
The Giants answered Buffalo's score with a field goal of their own, a 47-yard conversion from roster hopeful and current backup kicker Brandon McManus that made the game 10-10 with 5:01 left in the quarter. Buffalo was driving late in the second quarter and had a chance in the red zone, but Tuel was picked off in the end zone by Giants second year safety Cooper Taylor with 20 seconds left and the score stayed at 10-10 heading into the half.
In the third quarter, the Bills got the ball first and were driving again in Giants territory, but it was the defense stepping up and making plays with newcomer cornerback Zack Bowman picking off backup Thad Lewis in the end zone again and the Giants prevented another possible Buffalo touchdown.
Buffalo was able to put the next points on the board with 4:08 left in the third quarter behind the leg of Carpenter again, this time a 51-yard field goal to put the Bills up 13-10. At the start of the fourth quarter, that was where the Giants took over the game and not only got the lead back, but kept it the rest of the way.
Giants second year quarterback and hopeful backup for Manning, Ryan Nassib connected on another roster hopeful, wide receiver Corey Washington for a 73-yard touchdown pass and the Giants took the lead at 17-13 with 14:09 left in the game. After that, the Giants defense put the Bills offense on lockdown and in the end, held on to win the game 17-13.
Nassib finished the game going 7-for-12 with 139 yards and a touchdown and helped his case to win the backup quarterback job behind Manning. Williams again lead all rushers with 48 yards on seven carries with the touchdown and has a lot of Giants fans excited about what he can bring to the offense in 2014. Washington lead all receivers with the 73 yards and one touchdown catch. Washington, because of his size at 6'4", has a great chance to win a roster spot being that he can use his height to his advantage and Sunday night's game only helped his chances for that possibility.
The Giants next pre-season game will be on Saturday, August 9 when they return home at MetLife Stadium to play the Pittsburgh Steelers.
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Tags: Andre Williams, Buffalo Bills, Corey Washington, Eli Manning, Football, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Rashad Jennings, Ryan Nassib