Falcons 23, Dolphins 6: Seven-game exhibition season losing streak snapped

Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons throws the ball prior to the preseason game against the Miami Dolphins on August 24, 2012 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons throws the ball prior to the preseason game against the Miami Dolphins on August 24, 2012 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

MIAMI — The Falcons’ dress rehearsal for the 2012 regular season was not a rousing success.

Facing a team with a struggling defense and a rookie quarterback not named Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, the Falcons stalled on offense and didn’t dominate on defense as they posted a 23-6 victory Friday night at Sun Life Stadium.

COACH MIKE SMITH’S  OPENING STATEMENT: “I was really pleased with some of the things that we did tonight. The effort was good in all three phrases. I felt that we improved defensively, especially on third down. That was one of the things that we didn’t do very well in the last ball game. Offensively, I felt that we left some points out there. Not necessarily in the red zone all the time. Sometimes it was pre-red zone; just before you get into the red zone.  I thought our special teams units played well. We had an opportunity to return a kickoff. I was very impressed with what Jacquizz Rodgers did. There are lot of things that we have to get fixed between now and next week as we go through the finish of the preseason. The toughest things is getting the roster in place over the next 14 days we’ll be doing that. Going to 75 and then to 53.

Faced with a similar situation Thursday night, the Baltimore Ravens destroyed Jacksonville 48-17 in their regular-season tune-up. The Falcons did manage to stop their seven-game exhibition season losing streak and helped coach Mike Smith improve his record to 4-1 in the important third exhibition-season games.

While Matt Ryan was sharp, the offense couldn’t convert their drives into touchdowns. The unit settled for three first-half field goals and some of the same problems from 2011 surfaced.

Ryan completed 18 of 26 passes for 220 yards and one touchdown. For the exhibition season, he’s completed 45 of 60 passes (75 percent) for 549 yards, three touchdowns, an interception and has a quarterback rating of 111.

On the team’s first offensive drive, the Falcons elected to go for a fourth-and-2 from Miami’s 33, but running back Jacquizz Rodgers was dropped for a 2-yard loss.

Last season, Smith had a high-profile fourth-down call backfired against New Orleans in overtime. Also, the Giants stopped the Falcons twice on short-yardage situations in the wild-card playoff loss.

Smith plans to continue to go for it fourth down, but doesn’t appear to have a line that can get enough push in those situations. Also, the Falcons appear to miss the lead-blocking of former Pro Bowl fullback Ovie Mughelli.

They tried to run behind Cox and right tackle Tyson Clabo, but Miami defensive end Cameron Wake broke through and tackled Rodgers in the backfield.

The team saved $3 million by releasing Mughelli in May, but it doesn’t appear that he has been adequately replaced unless Lousaka Polite is a better lead blocker than Cox. After being released, Mughelli signed with the St. Louis Rams as a free agent.

The team is taking a close look at the offensive line. Rookie right guard Peter Konz was inserted for Garrett Reynolds and played two series with the first unit.

Also, rookie left tackle Lamar Holmes entered the game when the second-team took over in the third quarter.

Konz and Holmes were the Falcons’ top two draft picks in 2012, but they don’t appear ready to contribute immediately. Holmes’ play was particularly important because backup left tackle Will Svitek, who started 11 games in 2011, was lost for the season with an upper right arm injury.

The Falcons’ rushing attack continued to struggle.

Running back Michael Turner, who’s accounted for at least 1,450 yards in three of the past four seasons, was held to 14 yards on eight careers in the two previous exhibition games.

The Falcons tried to unleash Turner against the Dolphins, but he finished with 35 yards on 10 carries for a paltry 3.5 average per carry. Rodgers had four carries for 4 yards.

The Falcons elected to keep most of the same personnel from last season and ordered up a major retooling by hiring new coordinators in Dirk Koetter (offense) and Mike Nolan (defense).

The reconfigured offensive staff, with Pat Hill as the new line coach for Paul Boudreau, came up with a mock game plan as they treated the third exhibition game as a warmup for the season opener at Kansas City on Sept. 9.

On the second drive, Matt Bryant kicked a 45-yard field goal to put the Falcons up 3-0.

Miami, with rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill at the controls, answered with drive to the Falcons’ 4. Dan Carpenter kicked a 22-yard field goal to make the score 3-3.

Bryant added field goals for 44 and 51 yards to give the Falcons a 9-3 halftime lead.

The Falcons finally reached the end zone when Ryan connected with Roddy White for a 20-yard touchdown with 6:40 to play in the third quarter to give the Falcons a 16-3 lead.

On Miami’s next series, Carpenter added a 52-yard field goal to make the score 16-6.

Backup quarterback Dominique Davis continued to impress. He tossed a 39-yard touchdown pass to Tim Toone with 8:36 left in the fourth quarter.

Defensively, the Falcons revealed how they plan to play their cornerbacks.

Brent Grimes started on the left side and Dunta Robinson on the right side. When they went to their nickel package, Asante Samuel went to the left side and Grimes moved over to the right. Robinson went down inside to play in the slot.

The Falcons, who improved to 1-2, close out the exhibition season at Jacksonville on Thursday.


5 things to look for from the starters vs. the Dolphins

Should the Falcons trade with Jax/London Jags for MJD?

Falcons third-round pick Lamar Holmes set to make his debut vs. Dolphins

Coordinators hand out their exhibition mid-term reports; backups need to step it up

Running back Michael Turner still a weapon

Falcons thin at left tackle after Will Svitek goes down; out for season

Falcons finally get fiesty in practice; a couple of fights breakout

Akeem Dent returns to practice; will play against Miami


Dominique Davis in hunt for No. 2 quarterback position

GAME STORY: Bengals 24, Falcons 19

SIDEBAR: Matt Ryan won’t call himself an elte QB after completed 18 of 21

Asante Samuel admits to relaxing on A.J. Green’s touchdown catch

A.J. Green and Julio Jones shine in exhibition game

VIDEO: Matt Ryan, Lousaka Polite featured after loss to Bengals

VIDEO: Post game presser with head coach Mike Smith

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68 comments Add your comment


August 24th, 2012
11:55 pm

Dominique Davis impressed me the most tonight …


August 24th, 2012
11:55 pm

Ledbetter, what’s the deal next week? Davis and Wilson going to duke it out?


August 25th, 2012
12:00 am

Matt Ryan made some mistakes tonight… Sloppy win tonight, defense looked good outside of Dunta…

Seen This B4

August 25th, 2012
12:06 am

The falcan’t starting offense scored a total of 3 pts versus the Miami defensive 1s…yeah, that’s a grand demonstration of a high-powered offense dominating a mediocre defense. On a brighter side, it looks like the dolphins will be taking over from the falcan’ts this year as the dropped-pass capital of the NFL.

Just Wing It

August 25th, 2012
12:08 am

yeah love a win any which way u can

Still Rick

August 25th, 2012
12:10 am

I like the play of Ryan and these receivers!


August 25th, 2012
12:14 am

Only took him 30 to posts such insightful genius!!! Buck lives!!!

[...] struggles in first game since being named Dolphins' starterYahoo! Sports (blog)Falcons 23, Dolphins 6: Seven-game exhibition season losing streak snappedAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Rotoworld.com -Washington Postall 246 news [...]

Sick & Tired Of Being Sick & Tired

August 25th, 2012
12:19 am

Did anyone else feel that Dominique Davis looked better than Redman in the game tonight?

Hopefully Davis has solidified a place on the 53 man roster passing John Parker Wilson and also potentially passing Redman on the depth chart. Redman has not looked good at all during the preseason and JPW has not improved at all since he’s been on the team.

Definitely still concerned about the offensive line when it comes to opening holes for the run game as well as their ability to pass protect. Sam Baker was pushed around all night long when he was on the field…..just pitiful as a 1st round pickl!!!!!

Still Rick

August 25th, 2012
12:22 am

And yours is better? Clownfart beat it hater! Lol dont make me make you cry here….daddy is here in this blog!

Still Rick

August 25th, 2012
12:24 am

Davis is the #2 QB on this team. I want to see him have one series with the first team next week. And I want him to be able to throw the ball during that series. I like this guy and he will be the 2nd string QB for the Falcons!

[...] GAME STORY: Falcons 23, Dolphins 6 [...]

Still Rick

August 25th, 2012
12:26 am

However I am glad to see you back John Nash…….JSS is John Nash for those who dont know.

[...] in first game since being named Dolphins' starterYahoo! Sports (blog)Rotoworld.com -Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)all 258 news articles » « Court of Appeals rules cigaret… [...]


August 25th, 2012
12:39 am

T Robinson, Bierman and D Davis should have good grades for the game. Did not hear Dent’s name called much. Punt return team needs more work. Franks was too hesitant. Both Smith and Nance ran well and hit the hole decisively. Jerry is also playing his best since becoming a Falcon.


August 25th, 2012
1:24 am

My biggest worry is that Coach Smith and TD will try to make their DRAFT Picks from the last 3 years look good and not try and get better players. There will be some go players available but TD probably won’t move. This team is trying to go to the SUPER BOWL, it is okay if Konz, Holmes, Dent, Johnson etc. take another year to get ready. They are nOT playoff team ready. I just pray they don’t blow it trying to go with their guys. Meir, Redmond, JWP TYPES. The goal has to be get the best players that can help this team. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!!!!!!


August 25th, 2012
1:35 am

Ha ha, see me back? You were still rambling to your audience of 1 (yourself)… Grotkowski, you act like being compared to Nash is bad? He was brilliant, he was treated improperly for his illness, sad that you overlooked that point… Sorry Buck, I don’t hear voices or see things… However, I read your rage against folks… Need for me to get some groups for ya?


August 25th, 2012
1:40 am

Please tell me that Dominique Davis is going to be Matt Ryan’s back-up. He HAS to be able to hold a clipboard as well as Redman and JPW and has the arm and athleticism to make things interesting if Ryan gets hurt. Redman may know the offense better but is a statue and can’t break a pane of glass with his arm. JPW, as noted in prior posts, has not improved and didn’t have the arm at Alabama let alone for the NFL. Letting Davis go or relegating him to the practice squad would be a mistake that I hope the coaching staff won’t make out of knee-jerk conservatism.


August 25th, 2012
1:42 am

they won a preseason game! That means should they make the playoffs, they’ll at least score an offensive point (winless in preseason last year = offense shutout against the Giants)

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 25th, 2012
3:25 am

JSS — I think we’ll have some news on JPW today. He might not be around to duke it out.

[...] GAME STORY: Falcons 23, Dolphins 6 [...]


August 25th, 2012
4:22 am

Myself, I am impressed with what the starters have done so far, how it translates I don’t know, time will tell!!…..Don’t think we will be seeing much more of JPW, but it might not be all that bad. As far as everyone jumping on the DD wagon, eh might be a little pre-mature, don’t get me wrong I think he has done an outstanding job this pre-season, BUT i’m not drinking the kool-aid just yet, remember he is going against 3rd and 4th string D. Would like to see him get some earlier reps next week for sure. Most important though, I can’t wait for some “REAL” football and see these dirtybirds torch some people!!!….RISE UP!!! YA DIG!!!

[...] GAME STORY: Falcons 23, Dolphins 6 [...]


August 25th, 2012
5:37 am

Mughelli was a big part of the rushing attack. Falcons looking too 1-dimensional now. On defense….with the loss of Lofton and with Peters out of the starting lineup right now….run D may take a hit this year. On the plus side….pass coverage will be better. Julio is no longer a rookie so he will be even more dangerous this year.

Overall….its a tough schedule….9-7 is staring this team in the face.


August 25th, 2012
5:55 am

I’m sure ESQUIRE will chime in today that Redman will be #2 because he has great IQ and more experience but once again he SU%KED and Davivs shined. 3
rd stringers or not a three step drop and perfect pass to Toon was spot on……….


August 25th, 2012
6:29 am

If Dominique Davis is not on the roster, the Falcons are real stupid. I know it’s the preseason but our running game stinks. Way too many penalties by veteran players. The defense couldn’t stop the run.I’m still waitting for Ray Edwards to get a sack. Red zone play was not good.Too many field goals. Tim Tone should make this roster. I’ll see if they can clean some things up when they play kansas city.


August 25th, 2012
6:33 am

To early to jump on Dom Davis bangwagon and yet what impresses you after eight years with Redman as the backup? He hasn’t pushed Ryan in practice and is content with the clipboard. No team will sign him or JPW if the Falcons cut them both.


August 25th, 2012
6:36 am

Ledbetter, I hope your point is taken in Foxborough South, oops I mean Flowery Branch ends the poor boy’s misery… Too bad the UFL is going away… That is a place for folks John Parker Wilson…


August 25th, 2012
6:54 am

JSS……..How successful do the falcons have to be for you to be satisfied?…….Please let all of us know and then just go away until they reach your expectations……..you’ll feel much better.


August 25th, 2012
7:09 am

Dunta will cost us some games, another meAnglo hall.


August 25th, 2012
7:17 am

please, get rid of the replacement officials.

One pass from Matt Ryan was deflected by a Miami defender and the Miami safety was called for pass interference. Please explain to me why Atlanta was given a first down on a deflected pass? The interference didn’t happen until after the deflection. Look at the film!


August 25th, 2012
7:35 am

George………if you replace the replacement officials don’t you still have replacement officials?

FAILCANTS fans should be very worried

August 25th, 2012
7:43 am

Unimpressive team….think you will win a playoff game this year? Answer: NO!

SAINTS OWN YOU! Fact….must be terrible to be a jealous hater of our Super Bowl victory….and, the 2nd Lombardi we win this year…who dat, we dat, two dat….fact dat….

Big Daddy

August 25th, 2012
8:06 am

The Falcons looked good in most areas. The red zone is still a killer. We have to come up with plays that will help us getting pass consistently having to kick field goals. By the way, I hope the backup kicker got a good education. Going wide left on that short field goal sort of seal his fate. Maybe JPW and give him a lift today.


August 25th, 2012
8:20 am

I heard Mckay say they would not use a rookie as a number 1 backup. Was Ryan a rookie? Are rookies starting these days? Why would Dominique not qualify as the number 1 backup if he earns it. It’s this type thinking that has kept the Falcons from being the best that they can be.


August 25th, 2012
8:38 am

Looking at their first series ………………looks like same ol’ Falcons to me.

1-10-ATL 15
(12:29) 33-M.Turner right end to ATL 18 for 3 yards (55-K.Misi).
2-7-ATL 18
(11:51) 33-M.Turner up the middle to ATL 22 for 4 yards (53-A.Spitler).
3-3-ATL 22
(11:14) (Shotgun) 2-M.Ryan pass incomplete short right to 11-J.Jones (59-G.Guyton). PENALTY on MIA-26-T.Johnson, Defensive Holding, 5 yards, enforced at ATL 22 – No Play.

Unfortunately from what I saw last night isn’t going to get the Birds from being a formidable opponent to play on a level with the NFL elite. But, it’s still preseason, an exhibition. Who knows how they might plan to light it up at KC!! I doubt we’ve seen everything.


August 25th, 2012
8:40 am

August 25th, 2012
8:20 am

I heard Mckay say they would not use a rookie as a number 1 backup. Was Ryan a rookie? Are rookies starting these days? Why would Dominique not qualify as the number 1 backup if he earns it. It’s this type thinking that has kept the Falcons from being the best that they can be.

That’s a thin line between #1 and #2 back up………….they are still your 2nd and 3rd string quarterbacks……………interchangeable in the shake of a series!


August 25th, 2012
9:14 am

A little unimpressive… looked to me like several of the first string were pretty much taking it a little easy. Also, not mentally in the game… not unusual for a practice session but it could sure have been better. Peria Jerry is BACK! D. Davis deserves continued looks. He is earning a spot on this team and might grow into a solid backup soon. He is far outperforming his competition. It would be so nice to take this practice opportunity to see him with the first string offense. Roddy White quietly did everything right, including a brilliant TD catch! Julio is becoming a beast and the continued practice was good for him.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Lamar Holmes in action for the first time in his NFL career. He did his job and looks much more agile without broken bones. I think he might develop into a backup soon. He is big and he is strong. I really liked the play where he blocked his man and nailed a second outside rusher in addition on the same play. He definitely appreciates the QB’s blind side and does his part. He has a big reach and is tough to get around… need to see him against first string defenses soon. It is apparent that they are still working things out and they have two weeks to prepare… keep up the good work! GO FALCONS!


August 25th, 2012
9:28 am

@@@@@FAILCANTS fans should be very worried

SAINTS are owned by the Falcons Fact….must be terrible to be a jealous hater of our Super Bowl victory….and, the 2nd Lombardi we win this year…who dat, we dat, two dat….fact dat….
who dat ?
dat is a gnat, a fat rat, team that go splat, a dat is not a cool cat, dat fall on a mat, face flat, splat,
nobody wants to chat cause you’re a dat gnat, and everyone knows…………..you aints, full of crap, you not even on the map, time to unwrap, aints got no chin strap, no lilly rap, may we gift wrap, for you NFC South splat, if you a dat, you need a bath
Thank You………….words and music by Sean Payton (hey, I’ve got nothing else to do)

2nd Lombardi……………? you mean you only have just one?……….oh hell, I thought you were some kind of dynasty or something. Well congratuations on that one and cherish it because it will be your only one. The NY Jets have been waiting since 1968………and not another one on the horizon…..just like you aints. FACT

Rick in Macon

August 25th, 2012
9:34 am

Robinson has to go…release him, he’s clueless in the defensive backfield. Am I the only one who thought that female sideline reporter during the game last night is 150% airhead? Where did they find her…cute, but she asked some absolutely stupid questions.

Flacons never learn

August 25th, 2012
9:39 am

Flacons got luckey cuz of all the droped balls from Dolfins.

Dolfan in Flowery Branch

August 25th, 2012
9:41 am

The Falcons shouldn’t be proud of their win last night…….they just beat the worst team in the NFL……that’s all!

Falcon James

August 25th, 2012
9:53 am

They were several thing I saw. First Ryan underthrow too many long ball. Second, Dunta has not improved at all. The defensive sceme did not help him at all. He still the weakeast link on the Defense. Bryant is still the best kicker in the league. Roddie still have a big mouth and Julio would do good to stop taking trips to Miami with him.

J from Sin City

August 25th, 2012
10:19 am

Should be concerned about the #2 QB and the OL. Hope that Ryan stays healthy. When Snelling returns he may prove to be more valuable to the running game than expected.

First time Season Tix Holder

August 25th, 2012
10:20 am

@ Falcon James

When you say Julio to stop making trips to Miami with Roddy, how is he supposed to play in the game?

Falcon James

August 25th, 2012
10:26 am

I was referring to the interview in the third quarter where Julio say he went to Vegas and Miami with Roddy.


August 25th, 2012
10:52 am

Skill players look average when you lack dominating line play. Looks like same story as last year. Smitty just doesn’t get it or so it seems. You need some beasts on both sides of the ball if you want to win the big games. Heck, when the Redskins had the hogs, I could have run for a 1st down on 4th down. lol


August 25th, 2012
10:58 am

Glad ol’ Eugene Robinson wasn’t down there in Miami showing the boys the streets of Miami or his Bart Starr Award.

Who Me?

August 25th, 2012
11:00 am

This is a 9-7 team. tough schedule this year, middle of the road signings, Svitek out, Lofa out. There’s just not enough talent on this squad defensively and they don’t look coached up. Maybe they’re sandbagging, I don’t know. If Davis doesn’t make this squad holding the clipboard I’ll be stunned. Kid has played his butt off. Can’t win consistently though without a shutdown defense. We are still giving up too much yardage on the ground and too many gaffes by the DB’s. Not good.


August 25th, 2012
11:08 am

Dominique Davis!!!!! Wake up coach Smith. Don’t be stupid and keep JPW. Redman can get tossed too.