CANTON, Ohio – The Buffalo Bills’ dominant defensive line wasted little time finding its regular-season form Sunday night in the Hall of Fame game at Fawcett Stadium.
On their first series of the NFL preseason, the Bills’ fearsome foursome up front helped produce a three and out by the New York Giants. The second series was even better for Buffalo in an eventual 17-13 loss.
Defensive tackle Kyle Williams sacked Giants quarterback Eli Manning and forced a fumble that was recovered by Bills linebacker Keith Rivers at the New York 22-yard line.
That set up a 30-yard field goal by Dan Carpenter to give the Bills the lead.
With that, the Bills’ starters up front on defense were done for the night.
“It’s great. We had an opportunity to come out here and wear this patch and represent Mr. Wilson, represent Andre Reed and hopefully do it with class and play with effort and passion the way that they would appreciate,” Kyle Williams said. “It’s fun. It’s always fun to be here and it’s always good to be the first game of the season.”
With the Bills’ front four on the field, the Giants ran eight plays for 2 yards.
“It’s always good to come out here and get your feet under you,” Williams said. “You’re never ready to practice and play football until you come to a practice and you’re never ready to play in a game until you come out here and get your feet under you in a game. First preseason game for me is down, and I’m looking forward to the next four and getting ready for September.”
With it being the first preseason game, the Bills kept things simple rushing the passer – and Williams still got there for a big play.
“We’re going to be able to rush the passer. These guys can rush with four, we can bring blitzes, they’re hard to handle,” defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said last week during training camp. “There are three Pro Bowlers up there and the fourth guy had double-digit sacks last season. That gives us a lot of optimism with where we can be with our pass rush.”
The Bills’ D-line of Mario Williams, Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus and Jerry Hughes last year combined for 41 sacks. If they can apply that type of pressure again, it will allow Schwartz to get creative with his calls.
“Any time you can blitz on your own terms, you’re at an advantage defensively. By that I mean you don’t have to blitz to get a pass rush,” he said. “If you can bring four and get a pass rush, you can do so many more things with your coverage, and then when you want to blitz you can blitz.
“It’s not like, ‘We’ve gotta get pressure on the quarterback so we have to blitz.’ That’s one of the advantages of having a strong front four. You’ve got a guy like Mario, we’ve talked about Hughes on the other side, we’ve talked about Marcell, we haven’t really talked about Kyle Williams. Generally offenses are going to protect with five, six guys. We’ve got four, there’s a couple guys that are going to be one-on-one and we’ve got guys that can win those matchups.”
The Bills’ second defensive line Sunday consisted of ends Manny Lawson and Jarius Wynn, along with tackles Corbin Bryant and Stefan Charles. The unit wasn’t nearly as successful as the starters, as the Giants put together a 12-play, 80-yard scoring drive that included 62 yards on the ground.