The Falcons closed out their preseason with a 13-9 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Both teams opted to sit nearly all of their starters and let their backups play their way to roster spots in the finale. It is perhaps the last opportunity many of these players will ever get to earn a spot on an NFL roster.
Chris Redman got the start and completed 15 of 22 passes for 142 yards. He was replaced by John Parker Wilson, who went 8 of 15 for 74 yards in the second half. On the ground, Antone Smith led the way with 41 yards on 9 carries. Jerious Norwood added 31 yards on 4 carries, and Dimitri Nance had 4 carries for 10 yards. Michael Palmer led the team with 5 receptions for 45 yards. Andy Strickland had 4 catches for 38 yards. Ryan Wolfe (3 catches, 55 yards) and Troy Bergeron (3 catches, 36 yards) also contributed to the passing game. The offense got off to a slow start, but Redman was able to lead the team on two scoring drives in the second quarter, but could not get any touchdowns out of it. Outside Norwood and Jason Snelling (3 carries, 9 yards), none of the team’s regulars got playing time.
Defensively, the Falcons got off to a good start, stalling the Jaguars on their first four offensive drives, three of which were three-and-outs. But a fumble by Antone Smith gave the Jaguars good field position in the second quarter, setting up their first score. Bear Woods and William Moore tied for the team lead with 5 tackles each. Woods added a sack. Spencer Adkins (3 tackles), Jamaal Anderson (1 tackle), Eric Brock (3 tackles), Dominique Daniels (2 tackles), Dominique Franks (2 tackles), Chevis Jackson (3 tackles), Robert James (3 tackles, 1 sack), Trey Lewis (3 tackles), Stephen Nicholas (2 tackles), Lawrence Sidbury (2 tackles), and Emmanuel Stephens (3 tackles) had noteworthy games. Of the team’s projected key contributors this year, only Anderson, Peria Jerry, Sidbury, and Sean Weatherspoon saw significant minutes.
Matt Bryant connected on all three of his field goal attempts of 31, 27, and 25 yards. Michael Koenen punted 7 times, averaging 36 yards. Two of his punts landed inside the 20-yard line. Antone Smith returned a kickoff for 20 yards. Dominique Franks lost 5 yards on his lone punt return. Tim Buckley muffed a punt return.
The Falcons wrap up the preseason with a 2-2 record. The Falcons will have to make their 53-man roster by Saturday afternoon, and then pick 8 players to join their practice squad the following day. The team is poised to travel to PIttsburgh to open up the 2010 season against the Steelers on September 12. All-time the Falcons are 2-11-1 against the Steelers. Their last meeting resulted in a Falcon win 41-38 in 2006. Prior to that, they tied the Steelers in 2002. It marked the only time they did not lose when on the road against the Steelers. All-time they are 1-5 in Pittsburgh.