CANTON, Ohio** – One night after his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Michael Strahan thrust himself into a team huddle and inspired a new generation of Giants players.
Strahan and the other six members of the Hall's Class of 2014 were introduced prior to the Hall of Fame Game in Fawcett Stadium. With the Giants lined up on the north 40-yard line and the Buffalo Bills standing on the opposite 40, facing each other, Strahan was introduced last through the gauntlet and drew a big cheer. As five new Hall of Famers moved to the sideline, the Bills huddled around their Hall of Famer, Andre Reed, while the Giants surrounded Strahan just a few feet away.
When he played, Strahan famously brought the players together soon after they stepped on the field before a game. He would move around and yell to get everyone riled up. And then he would lift his leg high, bring it down with a thud and scream, "We're going to stomp you out."
Strahan clearly enjoyed reprising his famous stomp in the moments before the Giants played their preseason opener. The Giants replicated the stomp. That might have had little to do with the Giants' 17-13 victory, but it certainly didn't hurt.
"To see him out there today and have him break down the team one last time and give us his traditional move with the stomp, that was fun," quarterback Eli Manning said. "I know a lot of guys haven't gotten the opportunity to witness that. Me and (Zak) DeOssie and Mathias (Kiwanuka) are the only guys on this team that had ever seen that in person. I'm glad he got to do it one last time and also to let some of these new teammates get to hear him talk and do his thing."
Hall of Fame inductee Michael Strahan speaks during the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony
For the Giants, the victory was a fabulous finish to an unforgettable weekend. Strahan was the last of the seven new Hall of Famers to speak at the induction ceremony. With John Mara, Steve Tisch, Jerry Reese, Tom Coughlin, Manning, Kiwanuka and DeOssie and many other members of the Giants family in attendance, Strahan delivered a memorable 34-minute speech that covered his entire life and credited numerous people for helping him along the way.
"It's been a fun weekend," Manning said. "It really hit me this past week how special it is to have a teammate go into the football Hall of Fame. That's not something that happens very often, so I'm very excited for Michael. He was a great teammate and a great friend of mine when we had those four years playing together. He's still a good friend, and I'm happy to kind of go through this with him a little bit.
"This weekend has been a fun journey," safety Antrel Rolle said. "We've been fortunate as a team and as an organization to witness one of our own get inducted into the Hall of Fame. We're fortunate to play in this Hall of Fame Game and to kick off the NFL season. The experience has been awesome."
Manning and Coughlin were among those who received special citations in Strahan's speech. The new Hall of Famer has strong feelings for each man.
"We were so proud of Michael Strahan, so excited to come out here and be a part of this ceremony," Coughlin said. "To be there last night was really a tremendous thing. Here's a guy that waits until 11 o'clock to speak and yet still is really terrific with a mic in his hand. I just couldn't be prouder of him, the things that he's accomplished both on the football field and post-football. We gave him a little, we tried to surprise him tonight. I told the players, 'When he walks out there, we'll run out there and just give him a pat on the back and then get back in line so we don't get fined or taken out of here.' It's been a really good experience."
"That was special," Manning said of being the subject of one of the most talked-about segments of Strahan's speech. "I didn't expect that. It was special that he mentioned me and talked about me and made a point. I think that's the neat thing about winning championships with these guys, you have a special bond forever. It's not just me and Michael Strahan; it's me and all of those guys that were a part of those teams and those championships. It is a special bond and a special memory that you always have with each other."
>> POSTGAME STATS AND NOTES
- Rookie fourth-round draft choice Andre Williams led the team with 48 rushing yards on seven carries, including a 21-yarder and a three-yard touchdown.
Manning completed six of seven passes (85.7 completion percentage) for 43 yards, including three for 20 yards to running back Rashad Jennings. Ryan Nassib took the most snaps among the quarterbacks and hit seven of 12 passes for 139 yards, including a throw that Corey Washington turned into the game-winning, 73-yard touchdown with a spectacular catch. Curtis Painter played late and completed all three of his passes, for 26 yards.
- Marcus Harris was the Giants' leading receiver with four catches for 49 yards.
- Damontre Moore, Kerry Wynn and Jordan Stanton all had sacks for the Giants.
- Cooper Taylor and Zach Bowman each intercepted a pass in the end zone. The ball was first tipped by T.J. Graham on Taylor's pick.
- Buffalo's Marcus Easley blocked a Steve Weatherford punt in the second quarter. The resulting Buffalo possession ended with Taylor's interception.
Brandon McManus attempted the Giants' only field goal, a successful 47-yarder in the second quarter. McManus, a first-year pro, is challenging veteran Josh Brown for the kicker's job. Brown kicked both of the Giants' extra points (from 33 yards out, as part of the NFL's preseason experiment to spot the ball on PATs at the 15-yard line instead of the two).
- The Giants deployed Quintin Demps and Preston Parker deep on their kickoff return team, but all four of the Bills' kicks were touchbacks. Parker did return three punts for 33 yards.
- Tight end Daniel Fells sprained his knee in the third quarter. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury.
- Several Giants players did not make the trip, including defensive end Robert Ayers (ankle), linebacker Jon Beason (foot), tackle Will Beatty (leg), wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring), tight end Xavier Grimble (hamstring), guard Eric Herman (hip), receiver/return specialist Trindon Holliday (leg), cornerback Bennett Jackson (ankle), cornerback Trumaine McBride (offseason injury), defensive tackle Mike Patterson (shoulder), linebacker Spencer Paysinger (concussion) and running back David Wilson (neck).
- Charles Brown started at left tackle for Beatty and Johnathan Hankins started at left defensive tackle for Patterson.
- The Giants' game captains were Justin Pugh, Steve Weatherford and Hankins.
- The Giants are 3-1-1 in the Hall of Fame Game. They played in the game for the first time since 2002.
- The Giants lead the preseason series with Buffalo, 4-1 winning in 1977, 1990, 1991 and Sunday night. Buffalo prevailed in 1974.
- The Giants are 36-26-3 in preseason openers since 1950.
- PROGRAM ALERT: MSG+ will air the Giants Hall of Fame Weekend Special on Tuesday at 6:30 PM, featuring inside access to Michael Strahan's induction weekend.
See photos from the game!