Patriots roll past Falcons

AP/Dave Martin

Fred Taylor

The Falcons struggled in their second preseason game, dropping to the New England Patriots 28-10.

Matt Ryan kicked things off going 8 of 13 for 76 yards. He was replaced by John Parker Wilson late in the second quarter who would remain in the game until the final minutes. Wilson completed 14 of 25 passes for 98 yards with a touchdown and interception. Chris Redman did get reps on three plays to close out the game, but handed it off on all three plays. On the ground, Antone Smith once again led rushers with 44 yards on 8 carries. Michael Turner looked sharp with his early work, rushing for 32 yards on 8 carries. Dimitri Nance had 8 carries for 21 yards, but did fumble which the Patriots were able to convert into seven additional points. In the air, Justin Peelle and Nance tied for the team lead with 3 receptions each for 30 and 7 yards, respectively. Troy Bergeron added 2 receptions for 28 yards and was responsible for the team’s lone touchdown. Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez each had 2 receptions for 26 and 18 yards, respectively. Antone Smith, Harry Douglas, and Michael Turner also each had a pair of receptions for 14, 13, and 9 yards respectively. The Falcons first-team offense was able to move the ball well on its initial drive, but a failed third down conversion from the Patriots 28-yard line made the team settle for a 46-yard field goal from Matt Bryant. With Ryan under center, the Falcons offense was only successful on one of four third down conversions. They fared a little better when Wilson was inserted in the game, converting 3 straight third downs on his initial drive, but failed to convert a fourth. That set up a 4th & 15 from the Patriots 37-yard line with less than a minute left in the first half, and head coach Mike Smith opted to go for it, resulting in Wilson’s interception. The Falcons offense had three straight three-and-outs in the third quarter, but was able to find more success in the fourth quarter. Wilson and theoffense were able to convert three third downs on that series. Their fourth third down of the drive resulted in Bergeron’s 19-yard score.

Defensively, the Falcons did not get off to a good start. The Patriots initial drive was capped off by a 28-yard run from running back Fred Taylor (pictured), who broke several tackles. They followed up with a three-and-out on the next series and seemingly held the Patriots scoreless on their third series. Stephen Gostkowski missed a 41-yard field goal, but a questionable roughing the kicker call against Chevis Jackson gave the Patriots the ball back again. Three plays later Tom Brady hit Aaron Hernandez for a four-yard pass to put the Patriots up 14-3. The defense fared a little better in the second half, but did allow two scoring drives from the Patriots. Erik Coleman led defenders with 5 tackles. Curtis Lofton, Shann Schillinger, and Lawrence Sidbury were each credited with four tackles. Sidbury added a sack as well. John Abraham (3 tackles), Kroy Biermann (3 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble), Chauncey Davis (2 tackles), Thomas DeCoud (2 tackles), Dominique Franks (2 tackles), Chevis Jackson (2 tackles), Robert James (2 tackles), Trey Lewis (3 tackles), Stephen Nicholas (3 tackles), Sean Weatherspoon (3 tackles), and Coy Wire (2 tackles) all had noteworthy games.

As mentioned earlier, Bryant was successful on his lone field goal attempt of 46 yards. Michael Koenen averaged 40 yards on 3 punts. Eric Weems had 2 kickoff returns for 54 yards. Dominique Franks lone punt return was for -7 yards. Special teams coverage units didn’t have a lot of work to do as all three of Michael Koenen’s punts resulted in fair catches, and all three kickoffs were for touchbacks.

The Falcons will get their first chance to travel this preseason with a road game against the Miami Dolphins next Friday at 7 pm Eastern. The last time the Falcons squared off against the Dolphins in the preseason was in 2005, which ended with a 20-17 victory on the road.

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