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Falcons 24 - Browns 13 final score: Atlanta wins a fun one

The Falcons don’t always give us reasons to feel cheerful, but so far in preseason, we’ve seen plenty.

NFL: Preseason-Atlanta Falcons at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Preseason results don’t matter, but the Falcons are now 2-0 and have had two weeks of impressive performances from their reserves. I don’t care how much I’m supposed to read into that, because I thoroughly enjoyed this 24-13 victory over the Browns.

The Falcons once again got plenty of quality performances from young players, and their offense in particular looked much sharper. Whether that translates to the regular season or not, it was an early encouraging sign and it made this otherwise forgettable Thursday a good one, so I’ll take it.

Here’s our ongoing notes from the game.

Fourth Quarter

  • The last offensive drive belonged to Gus Johnson, who was determined to show Brandon Wilds isn’t the only guy competing for a job, and the Falcons wound up kneeling to seal the victory. After I put Terron Ward’s name in the depth chart as the third back with heavy pencil, the battle for that job has been surprisingly competitive.
  • With Cody Kessler in the game, the Falcons’ defense did just fine, and wound up having a decent game on balance. That’s encouraging, even if most of the game belonged to the reserves.
  • The Falcons stretched out a long drive with Matt Simms at the helm, one that saw them march downfield and score on a scrutinized touchdown catch for Devin Fuller. It was impressive, and it put the Falcons up by two scores late.

Third Quarter

  • The defense was mighty shaky against Josh McCown, but when the Browns got inside the ten yard line and went for it on fourth down, they got the stop. Good enough for me.
  • With another defensive stop, the offense got the ball back...and I have to say Matt Simms impressed. He looked sharp passing the football and may actually push to stick around on the practice squad, if nothing else. And then he was wrecked by Carl Nassib, coughed up the ball, and we’ll have to think about that opinion.
  • The Falcons scored on a huge run by Brandon Wilds, who I’m pretty sure is going to make the roster at this point. He’s looked genuinely impressive in stretches.

Second Quarter

  • Then Schaub caught fire. A penalty wound up holding the Falcons to a field goal,
  • The backups came in, and while Brandon Wilds looked good running the ball again, Matt Schaub couldn’t recapture the magic. The Falcons did put together a nice defensive effort against the Browns, however.
  • Nick Rose missed badly on a 48 yarder, and is probably not going to be around much longer. The defense followed that up by allowing a fourth down conversion and second Robert Griffin touchdown pass. Keanu Neal was, unfortunately, prominently involved.

First Quarter

  • The offense sputtered out on the next drive, with Matt Ryan missing Levine Toilolo and a failed Mohamed Sanu connection before midfield. Fortunately, the defense held the Browns in check afterwards, earning a holding penalty and capping the drive with a three yard loss on a nice Brooks Reed hit.
  • The defense put together arguably its worst drive of the young preseason following that, with the Browns scoring on a 50 yard touchdown pass from Robert Griffin III to Terrelle Pryor, and the completion came at the expense of Desmond Trufant. Ergh, preseason.
  • Offensively, Matt Ryan got his first completion, a nine yarder to Jacob Tamme, and the Falcons rolled all the way to the end zone from there, looking equally crisp through the air and on the ground. That’ll alleviate a few concerns.
  • Atlanta got off the field quickly on defense on the very first drive, helped along by an inept Browns offensive effort (after a nice eight yard run, anyways) and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Terrell Pryor.