In what could be considered a dress rehearsal game for the regular season, the Falcons weren’t exactly crisp, but managed to be sharper than the Miami Dolphins, exiting with a 16-6 win.
Matt Ryan and the starters played most of the game, appearing for the entire first half and the opening possession of the third quarter. Ryan got off to a slow start, completing only 4 of his first 14 passes. But he finished with 13 completions on 26 attempts for 103 yards, 1 touchdown, and an interception. Chris Redman spelled him in the second half, completing 5 of 8 passes for 56 yards and a score. Michael Turner led Falcons rushers on the ground with 16 carries for 47 yards. He also fumbled once. Jason Snelling and Jerious Norwood each added 5 carries for 22 yards. Roddy White got a big chunk of the work in the first half, catching 6 passes for 47 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown pass from Ryan. Harry Douglas had 4 catches for 41 yards. Tony Gonzalez added 3 receptions for 30 yards. Michael Palmer also caught a pair of passes for 25 yards. Brian Finneran was the recipient of Redman’s touchdown strike, it being his only reception for 5 yards. The Falcons first team offense put together two good offensive series, resulting in 10 points. But two drives were stalled by the turnovers. They did manage to convert 10 of 19 third down attempts for the game.
Defensively, the Falcons saw some improvement tonight, particularly on their ability to make stops on third downs. The Dolphins only converted 2 of their 12 third down attempts. Curtis Lofton led defenders with 11 tackles. Jamaal Anderson (2 tackles), Kroy Biermann (1 tackle, 1 sack), Erik Coleman (1 tackle, 1 interception), Brent Grimes (4 tackles), Chevis Jackson (6 tackles), Mike Peterson (3 tackles, 1 pass defended), Shann Schilinger (4 tackles), Lawrence Sidbury (2 tackles, 1 sack), Sean Weatherspoon (4 tackles), and Coy Wire (3 tackles) had noteworthy games. Peterson tipped a pass that resulted in Coleman’s interception in the endzone that kept the Dolphins offense out of the endzone at the end of the first half. The Dolphins first team offense was shut out of the endzone, and was only to make it to the redzone on one of their 8 offensive series.
On special teams, Matt Bryant connected on his lone field goal attempt of 26 yards. He did however miss an extra point. Michael Koenen punted 5 times for an average of 40 yards, with 2 punts inside the 20. Eric Weems had a nice night in the return game, averaging 15 yards on 4 punts and 26.5 yards on a pair of kickoff returns. Dominique Franks lost a yard on his lone punt return, but did gain 30 on his lone kickoff return. Eric Weems, Jason Snelling, William Moore, and Coy Wire all added stops in coverage.
The Falcons will close out the preseason next Thursday night on the road vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars. Earlier this summer, they had two days of joint practices with the Jaguars. This will mark the seventh time since the Jaguars entered the NFL in 1995 that hte Falcons have squared off against them in the presason. The two teams have split in their previous six contests. Their most recent game was a 20-17 loss for the Falcons at Jacksonville in August 2008.