Tonight, it’s back to football with the first game of the year when the Giants meet the Buffalo Bills in the annual NFL/Hall of Fame Game.
Kickoff: 8:00pm Eastern
Site: Fawcett Stadium, Canton, Ohio
TV: NBC Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya
Radio: WFAN 660AM and 101.9FM
Both clubs aim to get off to a fresh start after coming off losing campaigns. The Giants finished last season 7-9, their first losing record since 2004, Tom Coughlin's first year as head coach. In 2013, the Bills went 6-10 nder first-year head coach Doug Marrone.
Both teams made exciting WRs their first selections in this past April's draft. The Bills took the explosive Sammy Watkins of Clemson fourth overall. The Giants made LSU speedster Odell Beckham, Jr. their top pick at No. 12 overall.
Beckham will not play tonight as he has been sidelined with a hamstring injury. Watkins is healthy and is looking forward to his first National TV moment as a pro.
“I’m definitely excited for the opportunity to experience my pro debut at the Hall of Fame Game,” says Watkins. “It was one of the first things I noticed when I looked at the schedule after being drafted by the Bills. Growing up a Bills fan, the chance to play in Canton on the same weekend that Andre Reed gets inducted into the Hall will be surreal.”
Last night, Reed, former Giant DE Michael Strahan and five others were inducted into the Hall. Additionally, former Giants linebacker Harry Carson (Hall of Fame Class of 2006) and former Bills quarterback Jim Kelly (Hall of Fame Class of 2002) will serve as honorary captains and participate in the pregame coin toss.
“This year especially, I am so thankful that I can be on hand to share in a great weekend that shines the spotlight on the Buffalo Bills,” says Kelly, who has been waging a very public battle with cancer of the jaw. “It is a great honor for me to represent the Bills organization at the coin toss to kick off the season. The entire experience will bring back memories from 2002 when so many of the Bills family – fans, players and staff – joined me in Canton for one of the most memorable times of my life.”
The Giants, who played in the first NFL/Hall of Fame Game in 1962, will make their fifth appearance in the preseason classic (1962, 1972, 1985, 2002).
“There are five games [on our preseason schedule], and you approach it in different ways when you have five instead of four,” said Coughlin. “But we are going to benefit from this, from more opportunities in our new offense."
The Bills will play in the NFL/Hall of Fame Game for the fourth time in franchise history (1974, 1989, 2009).
What's new this season....
The game will debut innovations that fans will see during the 2014 NFL season. Among them are:
Instant Replay: The referee will now be able to consult with Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino during replay reviews. In addition, the recovery of a loose ball in the field of play will now be reviewable. This includes fumbles, backward passes and kicks.
Official-to-Official Communication: All seven game officials will now be able to communicate with each other during NFL games via wireless microphones.
Goal Posts: The uprights will now extend to 35 feet above the crossbar, up from 30 feet in previous seasons, to help officials make definitive rulings on field-goal attempts that previously crossed above the top of the uprights.
Tablets: Teams will be able to deliver pre- and post-snap photos to coaches and players on the sidelines and in the coaching booth via tablets.
Additionally, for the NFL/Hall of Fame Game and the first two weeks of the preseason, the NFL will experiment with extra point attempts by spotting the ball at the 15-yard line for extra point kick attempts. This will be done to gather information regarding possible future changes to make these plays more competitive and exciting for fans. The two-point try will remain at the two-yard line during this experiment.
From the Giants:
This is the fifth preseason game between the New York Giants and the Buffalo Bills. The Giants lead the preseason series, 3-1. In their last preseason meeting, the Giants defeated the Bills, 23-17, in Giants Stadium on Aug. 5, 1991.
In the regular season, the Bills hold a slight series lead, 6-5. The teams last faced each other on neutral turf in Superbowl XXV Jan. 27, 1991 in Tampa, where Scott Norwood’s 47-yard field goal sailed wide right in the field goal, clinching the Giants 20-19 victory.
This is the Giants 5th appearance in the annual Hall of Fame Game. They are 2-1- 1. The 5 appearances are tied for fifth most in the game’s history. The Browns, Steelers, Redskins, Cowboys and Saints are the other teams that have played five times in Canton. The Giants’ first played in the inaugural Hall of Fame Game in 1962, when they tied the St. Louis Cardinals 21-21. Their next apperance was in 1972, when they lost, 23-17, to to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Giants earned their first victory in 1985 when they defeated the Houston Oilers, 21- 20. In their most recent visit in 2002, the Giants defeated the expansion Houston Texans, 34-17.
The Giants....are 35-26-3 in preseason openers since 1950. Last year, the Giants began their preseason slate with a 18-13 victory at Pittsburgh.
........finished the 2013 preseason with a 1-3 record. They opened with a 18-13 victory at Pittsbrugh and followed it up with three consecutive losses: back-to-back home losses to the Colts (20-12) and the Jets in overtime (24-21) before wrapping up the preseason with a 28-10 loss to the Patriots at Foxboro.
Tom Coughlin....has a 19-21 preason record during his tenure with the team. As head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Coughlin was 19-14 in the preseason.
......is 3-2 against the Bills in the regular season (2-0 as head coach of Giants and 1-2 as head coach of Jaguars). He is also 1-0 in th playoffs against the Bills, when his Jags edged the Bills, 30-27, in 1996 AFC Wild Card Game.
Quotes and facts courtesy of the Giants Public Relations Dept and NFL Media.