Coach Rex Ryan was on the defensive after the Buffalo Bills unraveled to produce an undisciplined dud.
“Hey, it’s a free country. Write what you believe,” Ryan told reporters. “The one thing I know for a fact is we’ve got heart.”
Too much of it, perhaps, following a blood-boiling 24-10 loss to the New York Giants in which the Bills were undone by missed tackles, an ineffective offense and 17 penalties for 135 yards.
“We made too many mistakes to win,” Ryan said. “We’ll fix it.”
While the Bills (2-2) searched for answers, the Giants (2-2) began shedding their early season reputation for blowing fourth-quarter leads.
On the drive after Buffalo cut New York’s lead to 16-10, running back Rashad Jennings responded with a 51-yard, catch-and-run touchdown in which he broke three tackles up the left sideline. On Buffalo’s next drive, cornerback Prince Amukamara sealed the victory by stripping the ball out of the hands of Bills receiver Robert Woods.
“It shows grit,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said, referring to a team that lost its first two games by blowing 10-point, fourth-quarter leads. “When we were 0-2, we just need to fight. That’s what we do.”
Eli Manning went 20 of 35 for 212 yards and three touchdowns. The Giants defense forced two turnovers and limited the Bills to two first downs and 77 yards through their first nine possessions.
A number of things that stood out:
FLAG DAY: In their two losses, including a 40-32 defeat against New England two weeks ago, the Bills have been penalized 31 times for 275 yards. In their two wins, they’ve been flagged 16 times for 153 yards.
Against the Giants, penalties negated two touchdowns. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor had a 31-yard touchdown run in the third quarter erased by a holding penalty against guard Kraig Urbik. In the final minute of the game, Charles Clay’s 32-yard touchdown catch was nullified when Richie Incognito and Cordy Glenn were flagged for a chop block.
“We’re killing ourselves,” safety Corey Graham said.
PICKED OFF: Manning’s final pass was intercepted by Stephon Gilmore at the goal line. It was Manning’s first interception in 143 attempts.
His last interception came on his final attempt last year in a season-ending loss to Philadelphia. The Giants’ longest streak of attempts without an interception to start a season is 163, by Fran Tarkenton in 1969.
KICKING THEMSELVES: Bills kicker Dan Carpenter, who was bothered by a knee injury last week, missed a 30-yard field goal attempt wide left. He’s also missed from 54 yards, and missed an extra-point attempt this season.
Giants kicker Josh Brown had a point-after attempt hit off the right crossbar from 38 yards, which came after the Giants were flagged for illegal procedure. New York punter Brad Wing had a strong day by landing four of eight punts inside the Bills 20.
NO OFFENSE: The Bills went nowhere in a first half in which they had six three-and-outs. Taylor went 6 of 13 for 36 yards passing through two quarters, before going 22 of 29 for 238 yards and a touchdown in the second half.
Buffalo was minus two key offensive threats in running back LeSean McCoy (left hamstring) and receiver Sammy Watkins (right calf).
MILESTONES: Coughlin won his 166th regular-season game to tie Paul Brown for 12th on the NFL list. Including playoffs, Coughlin has 178 wins to tie Mike Shanahan for 11th. … WR Odell Beckham Jr. finished with five catches for 38 yards, and upped his total to 1,612 yards, the most by an NFL player through 16 games. …. With a 23-yard TD catch, Bills RB Karlos Williams became the fifth NFL rookie to score a touchdown in each of his first four games – and first since New England’s Robert Edwards scored in six straight games in 1998.
SOURCE: The Associated Press