Falcons head coach Bobby Petrino had his NFL debut as a head coach result in a loss 31-16 to the New York Jets. The positives from the Falcons preseason opener included pretty solid efforts from both the first team offense and defense.
Joey Harrington completed 6 of 9 pass attempts for 88 yards. Jerious Norwood rushed 8 times for 29 yards and a touchdown. Jason Snelling led the team with 48 rushing yards on 10 carries. Laurent Robinson and Roddy White both had good games receiving. Robinson caught 5 passes for 49 yards and White 3 catches for 38 yards. Chris Redman came in for Harrington at the beginning of the second quarter. He finished the game with 8 completions, 13 attempts for 61 yards. D.J. Shockley also played, completing 5 of 12 passes for 77 yards and an interception.
Defensively, the Falcons held the Jets offense in check through the first quarter, although the Jets did not attempt a pass until the beginning of the second quarter. The Jets rushed 10 times for only 29 yards in that span. However, as the backups began to circulate into the game, the Falcons would give up 117 yards on 30 carries. Jets backup passer Kellen Clemens had a good game, completing 16 of 22 passes for 174 yards and 3 touchdowns. Defensively, two rookies seem to shine above the others in the box score. Stephen Nicholas and Daren Stone both finished in the lead with 4 tackles each. Another Falcons rookie Trey Lewis teamed with Darrell Shropshire to tally the team’s lone sack on the night. Lewis finished with 3 tackles, while Shropshire had 1.
On special teams, Billy Cundiff connected on all 3 field goal attempts of 45, 41, and 37 yards. Michael Koenen punted 5 times, averaging 48.4 yards. Adam Jennings had several good returns, but penalties negated some of them. He finished the game with 3 kickoff returns for 87 yards. But the Falcons coverage teams could have used some more work. Jets returners averaged 46 yards on 4 kickoff returns, including an 86-yard run by Leon Washington.
The Falcons will travel next week to Buffalo in their second preseason matchup.