It was a long, sloppy, worrisome game for the New York Giants.
For the second week in a row, the Giants starting defense was stout while the offense sputtered. Penalties, missed assignments, and turnovers This is a game the Giants would like to forget.
But they can't. The preseason is the time for these kinds of mistakes. The coaches have come away from the first two weeks with plenty of teaching tape, but now they need to fix the problems. The fact that the team is making mistakes isn't good, but they need to learn from those mistakes and show improvement going into the third game next week.
So, what can we take away from this mess of a game?
Some in the media and some Giants fans wanted Eli Manning to sit against the Bills.
Eli himself wanted to play.
Rex Ryan said he'd "blitz the hell out of them."
Ultimately Ben McAdoo decided that Eli would play. It was up to the offensive line to take what Rex and the Bills could throw at them. Center Weston Richburg took responsibility -- on behalf of the offensive line as a whole -- for Ryan Nassib's struggles in the first preseason game, saying that "I think we didn't really help him out that much and I think he was under pressure a little bit and we kind of made it rough on him."
Between Ryan's habit of turning it up against the Giants and Buffalo not sitting their starters like Miami did, the stakes were raised this game.
The Giants can't be enthused by how their offensive line responded. Missed blocks and assignments, penalties and no push in the running game, the offensive line didn't play well. Justin Pugh sat the game out with a sore shoulder, and he was obviously missed up front, but the blocking as a whole was poor. Running backs were often as not hit almost as soon as they got the hand-off, or they had nowhere to run.
Quarterbacks found themselves under pressure, limiting the opportunities for the wide receivers to take their heated camp competition to the playing field.
Kids Stepping Up
The Giants need good play from their young players, and they definitely got that against against the Bills. Darian Thompson and Landon Collins came up big for the defense. The two play remarkably well together, with Thompson's ability as a free safety letting Collins do what he does best and terrorize the flats and thunder downhill against the run game.
Owa Odighizwua was active once again, terrorizing the Bills' offensive line from the inside and off the edge. Undrafted rookie Romeo Okwara was all over the field, looking quick off the ball and powerful dealing with blockers. He had a memorable hit that took Cardale Jones' helmet off. And once again Greg Milhouse was active, making plays behind the line of scrimmage.
Donte Deayon made some noise, getting beat in a route but refusing to give up the touchdown to Greg Little despite the 60-pound weight disparity. The Bills attacked him whenever he was on the field, but he battled all game and made plays.
The Giants' starting defense smothered the Dolphins' offense, limiting them to just 19 yards and a turnover while they were on the field. They generated pressure with Olivier Vernon and cornerback Janoris Jenkins registering sacks.
Once again, the Giants' starting defense was dominant. The Bills struggled to move the ball against the Giants starters in any way. Running the ball proved to be largely futile as Johnathn Hankins and Damon Harrison clogged the middle, Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon set hard edges, and the whole defense swarmed to the ball.
Jonathan Casillas and Devon Kennard played well, with Casillas flashing all over the field.
Jay Bromley, who spent most of training camp on the PUP list, was disruptive when he came on the field. As was Louis Nix III, who flashed in the Bills' backfield. The former nose tackle has lost weight and moved to the 3-technique position this season.
Thanks to the Giants' inability to do much of anything on offense, the defense played a lot of snaps all game long, and it showed as the game wore on.
Surprise Of The Game
I really want to take this chance to talk about Donte Deayon. The little corner came up big against a receiver who weighs roughly 60 pounds more than he does and impressed with his toughness.
... But I just can't.
For me the surprise of the afternoon was how sloppy the Giants played. Larry Donnell whiffed on at least four blocks that I saw, Will Tye may have missed a blitz pickup and some blocks of his own. The defense swarmed to the ball but also missed assignments, and penalty flags flew all over the field.
McAdoo is a coach who believes in -- and preaches, fundamentals -- so he is likely seething at the Giants' play. Mistakes are to be expected in preseason, but the number and repetition of mistakes is worrisome. McAdoo and his coaching staff will need to lock down these issues, both in play and in technique, and do it soonest.