The Falcons almost pulled a comeback win over the Cincinnati Bengals in their second preseason game, but ultimately lost 24-19. Dominique Davis put the Falcons in scoring position with only a few seconds left on the clock, but a dropped pass by James Rodgers on fourth down ended the Falcons chance to pulling the come from behind victory.
The Falcons starters got extensive reps, playing into the second quarter before being pulled. Matt Ryan had another solid performance, completing 18 of 21 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown. Ryan completed his first 11 passes on the night before suffering his first incompletion at the start of the second quarter. Chris Redman entered the game thereafter, and completed 10 of 15 passes for 106 yards and an interception. John Parker Wilson got limited work in the fourth quarter, completing 2 of 3 passes for 5 yards before making way for Davis. Davis ended the night 11 of 18 for 121 yards and a touchdown. On the ground, Jacquizz Rodgers led rushers with 24 yards on 4 carries. Davis added 21 yards on 2 carries. Dimitri Nance had 4 carries for 16 yards. Michael Turner got the start, but only had -3 yards on 3 carries. Roddy White and LaMark Brown led receivers with 4 catches each, for 54 and 47 yards respectively. Brown also caught a touchdown pass. Lousaka Polite caught Ryan’s touchdown pass, finishing the game with 2 catches for 9 yards. Tony Gonzalez (3 catches, 44 yards), Julio Jones (3 catches, 41 yards), and Marcus Jackson (3 catches, 40 yards) also topped the receiving charts. Matt Bryant hit on two field goal attempts of 22 and 20 yards. Matt Bosher had 4 punts for an average of 30.3 yards, with all four landing inside the 20-yard line. Jacquizz Rodgers returned 3 kickoffs for an average of 23 yards, with James Rodgers returning 2 kickoffs for an average of 25 yards. Dominique Franks and Tim Toone each had a pair of punt returns for 13 and 12 yards, respectively.
Defensively, the Falcons were able to force a turnover early in the game and held the Bengals to 17 first downs and 322 total yards. They also tallied a sack. Darrin Walls led defenders with 5 tackles. John Abraham (2 tackles), Thomas DeCoud (1 tackle, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery), Peria Jerry (2 tackles, 1 sack), William Moore (3 tackles, 1 forced fumble), Dunta Robinson (3 tackles), and Sean Weatherspoon (2 tackles) had noteworthy games.
On the opening offensive series of the game for the Falcons, Ryan’s passing helped move the ball from the Falcons’ own 21-yard line to midfield before a pass to Tony Gonzalez was stopped short of the first down marker on 3rd & 3. That led to a Bosher punt. The defense was stout on the following series, with Peria Jerry sacking Andy Dalton on first down and then three plays later, William Moore stripping Brian Leonard which was recovered by Thomas DeCoud. However the Falcons could not capitalize in Bengals territory, suffering a three-and-out. The Bengals were able to move the ball on the ensuing series thanks in large part to a big 25-yard gain by Jermaine Gresham on 3rd & 6. Ultimately, the Bengals had to settle for a 54-yard field goal from Mike Nugent to take an early 3-0 lead with roughly 2 minutes remaining in the first quarter. Ryan continued to throw the ball effectively, hitting Roddy White on a 24-yard gain before the close of the first quarter to put the Falcons at the Bengal 26-yard line. The following play he found Gonzalez for a 21-yard gain. Two players later, he missed on his first pass, followed by another incompletion on third down. The Falcons then settled for a Bryant 20-yard field goal to tie the game with less than 14 minutes remaining in the half. The Bengals were able to move the ball to midfield, although Cedric Peerman almost coughed the ball back up to the Falcons after he was stripped by DeCoud. But the ball went out of bounds before the Falcons could recover. Four plays later, Asante Samuel bit on a double move by A.J. Green, which led to a 50-yard touchdown pass from Andy Dalton to push the Bengals lead to 10-3. Ryan and the starters came back into the game energized, and he led the team down the field with an 8-play, 88-yard scoring drive. That drive included Ryan completing 6 of 7 passes for 85 yards, being capped off by a 2-yard play-action lob to Lousaka Polite for the score. The Falcons defense held the Bengals to a three-and-out on the ensuing drive, before Redman entered the game. Jacquizz Rodgers had a nice 16-yard run to put the ball in Bengals’ territory. Two plays later, Harry Douglas had a 23-yard gain on a deflected Redman pass to put the ball at the Cincinnati 11-yard line. But another Redman pass to Douglas was stopped short of the goaline on third down, leading to Bryant’s second field goal on the night of 22 yards. The Bengals followed that up with another three-and-out before the Falcons ended the first half on a 22-yard screen pass to Rodgers as time expired.
With the Falcons holding a 13-10 lead at the start of the second half, the Bengals had a strong start with Andrew Hawkins returning the opening kickoff for 32 yards. Bruce Gradkowski found daylight on a scramble up the middle three plays later for a 31-yard gain. He then found a wide open Mohamed Sanu on a broken coverage three plays later for a 12-yard score to retake the lead. Redman and the Falcons offense were able to move the ball somewhat thanks largely to an 18-yard pass to Antone Smith, but ultimately settled for another Bosher punt. The defense held again for another three-and-out, giving the Falcons the ball back at their own 39-yard line with 7:39 left in the third quarter. Redman found Kevin Cone on a 9-yard pass to convert a third down early in the drive. Dimitri Nance’s rushing also helped, having 4 carries for 16 yards on the drive. But Redman overthrew D.J. Davis in the endzone, which was picked off by Jeromy Miles and led to a touchback. On the next play, Bengals QB Zac Robinson hit Marvin Jones on a 42-yard pass, who beat Dominique Franks. But thanks in part to penalties and strong defense, the Falcons held with the fourth quarter beginning. Thomas Weber tried a 47-yard field goal at the start of the fourth quarter, but it went wide right. John Parker Wilson entered the game for a series, but was ineffective moving the ball before Bosher punted again. Robinson then led the Bengals on a time-consuming 12-play scoring drive for 81 yards. The Bengals converted four third downs on the drive, two of which came thanks to Falcons penalties. The last one was a pass interference on Darrin Walls, setting up the Bengals at the 1-yard line, where Jourdan Brooks scored on the following play to push the lead to 24-13. With 5:46 left in the game, the Falcons gave Davis his opportunity. On his first play, he hit LaMark Brown for a 24-yard gain. A holding call on the following play set up a 2nd & 34. But in two plays, Davis got most of it back with passes to Nance (6 yards) and Marcus Jackson (24 yards). He then found Jackson again on a 7-yard pass to convert on 4th & 4 to put the ball in Bengal territory. Davis then connected on his next four passes to put the ball at the Bengal 7-yard line. Then after an incompletion to Jackson, he hit Brown on a 7-yard score. He tried to force a pass to Jackson on the two-point conversion, but it was broken up by the Bengal defender leaving the score at 24-19 with 2:03 left in the game. The Bengals tried to run out the clock, but were stopped for a three-and-out, giving Davis and the Falcons the ball back with 1:33 at their own 36-yard line. Davis managed to find open receivers, but wasn’t helped by a number of dropped balls. But he was able to convert another fourth down play to Kenny Stafford to put the ball in Bengals territory midway through the drive. A few plays later, he scrambled out of bounds with 9 seconds left remaining on the clock, but was called out of bounds a yard short of converting on 3rd & 10. On the next play, they tried to hit James Rodgers on a quick out to convert, but Rodgers dropped the pass on 4th & 1. The Bengals kneeled on the next play and the game was over.
Next Friday, the Falcons will go on the road for the first time this preseason and face the Miami Dolphins. The third preseason game typically features the most extensive action of the preseason for the starters, who will be expected to play the entire first half and at least a series of the second half.