Buffalo's defense stifling against the Giants

Posted Aug 21, 2016

The Bills defense only built on some of the success they experienced in their preseason opener in Saturday's win against the Giants.

They’ve had a handful of injuries at linebacker and Marcell Dareus made the decision to enter a rehabilitation facility, but Buffalo’s defense didn’t miss a beat on Saturday against the Giants. They held New York’s offense scoreless holding them to just 166 total net yards.

“Obviously a really good performance,” said head coach Rex Ryan. “The effort was great. I’m really happy with the way the ‘D’ played.”

Much like the preseason opener, Buffalo’s run defense was stifling. The Giants managed just 10 rushing yards on eight first half carries to average 1.3 per rush. New York’s production wasn’t much better in the second half as the Bills effectively constricted rushing lanes and flew to the ball.

Prior to Bobby Rainey’s 67-yard run in the fourth quarter, the Bills had held the Giants to 32 yards on 17 carries (1.8/ypc).

“It starts up front,” said CB Corey White, who led the team with four pass breakups. “A lot of the time, we were in the seven man box, and it helps if we can stop the run in a seven man box. I think we held them, besides that big run, under 50 yards. That’s great. Big ups to our D-line.”   

Not surprisingly, the Bills third down defense was also solid. New York converted their first third down opportunity of the game, and were unsuccessful on the next 10 that followed. The main reason was the Giants found themselves in mostly third-and-long situations, due to the strong play on first and second down by Buffalo.

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“Last week we were solid against the run and I think we did a repeat performance,” said undrafted rookie LB Bryson Albright. “There’s a lot of guys playing hard. The interior line was playing really hard. Linebackers were filling gaps. Everybody was doing their jobs.”

Buffalo’s defensive dominance carried over from the starting unit to the second team. On seven of New York’s first 11 possessions, which stretched well into the third quarter, the Giants had either zero or negative net yardage. Not counting their one play kneel down at the end of the half, 10 of New York’s first 12 possessions lasted three plays or less.

“We challenged the second group and the third group at halftime,” Ryan said. “We had given up 37 yards at halftime and I said, ‘I don’t know if we can get better than that, but that’s the challenge for you.’ The guys stepped up. I’m telling you this football team works extremely hard and with that there’s no guarantee of success. We understand that, but it’s good to see the hard work pay off.”

The Bills also had four takeaways in the game. The first two, which came on forced fumbles by Zach Brown and Sterling Moore led to Buffalo touchdowns.

“Zach made a great play on the ball,” said Albright of Brown’s forced fumble on Giants RB Andre Williams that he recovered. “You’ve just got to be heads up. You here that, ‘Ball, ball, ball,’ you just have to have your head up. Zach made a great play on the ball and we got a bounce. You have to take advantage of the turnovers.”

CB Jonathan Dowling and S Robert Blanton added interceptions late in the fourth quarter.

Giants QB Eli Manning, who was held out of the preseason opener, was sacked once and had four completions on nine pass attempts for just 44 yards. His backup Ryan Nassib struggled going 0-for-4 passing in the first half. He too was sacked, but also fumbled the ball away at the Giants 19, which Adolphus Washington recovered.

“You put in so much work in to training camp and to see everything kind of come together,” said Jerry Hughes. “The guys were out there communicating well, everyone was on the same page, so I think that was a lot of fun for them to go out there and play football.”