Atlanta’s deep reserves largely got the stuffing knocked out of them against the Dolphins, which was both disappointing and sort of expected. The Falcons now have to sift through the tape from that awful effort and figure out who belongs on the roster and practice squad. That doesn’t seem like it’ll be an easy task.
The offense was led by Malik Williams, who did a solid job, and basically no one else. Kurt Benkert looked mediocre, Justin Crawford struggled, Reggie Davis had a nightmare game, and the offensive line utterly failed to block well throughout. The defense was a little better, but only a little, with a handful of sacks and quality plays and some very bad angles and missed tackles throughout the evening. It was a pretty dismal effort, but thankfully, it came with mostly players who will never see the field for Atlanta this season.
Now the question is who won the remaining few jobs, especially the returner gigs, and I don’t know that we got a lot closer to answering that, which has been the maddening part of this entire summer. Thankfully, we don’t have to wait long to find out.
Here’s the drive-by-drive breakdown, which is abbreviated at times due to genuine frustration and boredom.
The Falcons didn’t start things off right. Sadly.
Despite some nice tackles by Emmanuel Ellerbe and Jonathan Celestin, the Dolphins had little trouble moving down the field on their first drive, overcoming a fourth and short to score the game’s first touchdown.
Falcons 0 - Dolphins 7
Atlanta showed their intent to get Justin Crawford involved early on, and the back picked up six yards on two carries (and returned a kick) before Kurt Benkert whiffed on a third down pass behind a horrendous backup line. David Marvin punt.
The Dolphins had to chuck the ball into the dirt and Brock Osweiler was almost picked off, but poor tackling once again put the Falcons in a deep hole, and the Dolphins had little trouble scoring.
Falcons 0 - Dolphins 14
A Reggie Davis drop, an incomplete pass, and a sack where Matt Gono got destroyed ended the next drive before it really started. Punt.
The Falcons got the stop on the next drive, with Anthony Winbush getting a sack and a couple of solid plays in coverage to put the brakes on the Dolphins. Punt.
The Falcons got a Matt Gono holding penalty and then a tipped Kurt Benkert interception.
The Dolphins scored almost immediately, going seven yards on two plays.
Falcons 0 - Dolphins 21
The Falcons got moving a little thanks to Malik Williams running reasonably well and catching a pass from Kurt Benkert for a first down. That marked the end of the first quarter.
The Falcons called a toss sweep and Williams lost a yard. Turnover on downs.
The Dolphins attacked the flats and the Falcons politely declined to cover them, leading for some very easy movement down the field for David Fales and the Dolphins offense. Fortunately, they stalled out close to the goal line, in parts thanks to some nice plays by Emmanuel Smith at linebacker. The Dolphins settled for a short field goal.
Falcons 0 - Dolphins 24
The Falcons stalled out after an early penalty despite a couple of nice, zippy passes from Kurt Benkert. Punt.
The Dolphins stalled out and tried a long field goal from Jason Sanders, which they missed. Falcons ball.
The Falcons weren’t able to do much with their drive as Benkert once again scuffled and Gono struggled in pass protection. Punt.
Atlanta’s defense did get the job done, with a Justin Zimmer pressure highlighting a three and out. Punt.
Benkert missed two passes and Malik Williams picked up two yards on his sole run. David Marvin punt.
The Dolphins looked lousy but then managed to pick up the first on a David Fales scramble. The drive was mercifully ended by promising UDFA Chris Lammons, who intercepted Fales. Nice job, Chris Lammons.
The Falcons turned that into points. A nice Devin Gray catch and an eight yard touchdown run by Malik Williams got the job done.
Falcons 7 - Dolphins 24
The Dolphins kneeled us into halftime.
The Dolphins couldn’t do much on their first drive, and a 3rd and 17 sack by Garrison Smith put the nail in their coffin.
The Falcons got moving with some nice runs by Malik Williams, including a 19 yarder, and a sweet pass from Benkert to Jaeden Graham that took the Falcons 23 yards downfield. The team still ultimately fizzled out around midfield, forcing a punt.
The Dolphins got a couple of nice runs from
Some guy named Radcliff, but failed to convert a first down. Punt.
The Falcons had lost Malik Williams for the night at this point due to a shoulder injury, but Terrance Magee picked up 10 on his first carry of the drive. Unfortunately, Benkert was sacked shortly thereafter and one thing leading to another led to David Marvin punting.
The Dolphins attempted to rescue us from Puntsville with a long, excruciating drive that featured multiple Brock Osweiler scrambles, and they did end up scoring a touchdown on an Osweiler pass. Sigh.
Falcons 7 - Dolphins 31
The Falcons put Garrett Grayson in the game, but thanks to a drop and a middling Justin Crawford run, his scramble was for naught. Punt.
Run, throw, but you’ll never rise from the depths of preseason football, Dolphins. Punt.
The Falcons got a couple of solid passes in, but were still forced to punt. David Marvin actually punted well all game, if you’re into that sort of thing.
The Dolphins got enough momentum going to get a long Jason Sanders field goal. At this point in the game, the numbers had ceased to matter.
Falcons 7 - Dolphins 34
Justin Crawford picked up 11 yards on one of his finest runs of the summer, but the Falcons still flamed out and had to punt.
The Dolphins tried and failed to bring us to the end of the game, but they at least ran time off the clock. Punt.
The Falcons ran it with Magee a handful of times and ended this game, mercifully. Remember: Preseason doesn’t matter much, and the fourth preseason game doesn’t matter at all. One week until actual football games!