clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Falcons - Dolphins instant recap: Atlanta’s defense carries the day in preseason victory

A whole lot of Logan Woodside and a heavy dose of smothering defense.

NFL: Preseason-Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The reserves dominated playing time against Miami, and those reserves wanted to make a good showing. With a handful of exceptions, mission accomplished for Atlanta.

Despite the low scoring total for the Falcons, there were a few players who did quite well on offense, and the defense did solid work in the open field and excellent work in the red zone to clamp down on the Dolphins. That led to a low-scoring game that remained interesting despite the uneven performances on both sides of the ball right up until late in the fourth quarter, when a Dee Alford punt return touchdown and Breon Borders pick-six broke the game wide open and put Atlanta up by a huge margin.

For a game with no starters, this wound up being plenty compelling, with Atlanta coming up with a number of big defensive plays and red zone stands to justify our interest. I said coming into this that I was looking for and expecting a rugged defensive effort, and with some hiccups along the way we certainly got it, with turnovers and just three points for Miami. The 19-3 victory may not have meant much in the grand scheme of things, but for once Atlanta’s depth looked more than capable of handling the reserves of a good football team, and that’s worth celebrating here late on a Friday night.

Here’s the full drive-by-drive recap for your perusing pleasure.

1st Quarter

The Falcons kicked off. A short run for Myles Gaskin on the opening play thanks to the Falcons’ stout run defense, followed by a first down strike from Mike White to his receiver. The next run play was stuffed by Timmy Horne and company, and then a few yards before Mykal Walker got the stop. On third down, White hit Braxton Berrios for a first down, followed by another first down strike on the following play. The next run play went for a few yards, but Miami’s drive ended on Trey Flowers tipping the pass and rookie DeMarcco Hellams picking it off in the end zone.

Carlos Washington picked up three yards on first down, and then on second down, Logan Woodside hit Washington again for a few yards. Washington then picked up the first down on the subsequent carry, which went for a few yards. Then Logan Woodside missed Frank Darby on first down, followed by Washington picking up three. On third down, Woodside was able to hit Scotty Miller for the first down. Clint Ratkovich caught a short pass on the next play, and then Godwin Igwebuike picked up a few on the subsequent carry. A pass to Scotty Miller would’ve been a first down and more if not for an illegal shift penalty on Atlanta, and the 3rd and 8 featured a quick pass to Carlos Washington that fell a little short. Punt.

On first down, Nate Landman sniffed out Mike White’s indecision and sacked him for a big loss. On second down, Myles Gaskin caught a pass for a few yards. A penalty on Mykal Walker gave Miami a first down, and the next play went for a one yard loss. The Dolphins picked up several yards on second down, followed by tight coverage by Dee Alford that stopped the Dolphins in their tracks on third down. Punt.

Logan Woodside hit Josh Ali for a first down over the middle to start things off, followed by a quick run and another big pickup by Penny Hart. That ended the quarter.

2nd Quarter

Atlanta got rolling, with Tucker Fisk picking up a first down and some nice runs by Igwebuike to bring the Falcons into the red zone. Igwebuike got a huge hole and took full advantage, scoring a touchdown to cap off the drive. 6-0 after Younghoe Koo missed the extra point.

The Dolphins picked up a first down on a nice run. A missed tackle on the next play led to a quick pickup of a few yards, followed by yet another run marred by missed tackle opportunities that got Miami close. A four yard pickup and a solid catch by former Falcon Eric Sauber led to another first down. A quick hit for five yards was stopped by Tae Davis, and the Dolphins decided to try to score on 4th and 2. The pass attempt was knocked down by Breon Borders, ending the drive.

Seven yards on first down and then Woodside picked up a first down and then some with a nice pass to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Unfortunately, the drive broke down from there, with a short scramble for Woodside followed by a sack ending the drive. Punt.

The Dolphins picked up a big play that was only prevent from becoming a touchdown by Breon Borders, and the next series was highlighted by a Zach Harrison tackle for loss before the Dolphins again sprung a first down. A couple of nice tackles by Nate Landman and DeMarcco Hellams helped bring Miami to 3rd and 1, and then a nice stuff on third down by Tae Davis and the defense left Miami to make a decision. A fourth down strike was tipped by Joe Gaziano and ultimately not caught, leading to a turnover on downs.

The Falcons ran one play with Godwin Igwebuike and led at the half.

3rd Quarter

The Falcons received and took it out to about the 23. A four yard pickup by Igwebuike started us off, followed by another nearly five yard gain by Igwebuike. Unfortunately, Woodside’s third down pass was knocked down, ending the drive.

Miami’s drive unfolded in deliciously unfortunate fashion. A nice stop by Timmy Horne, a sack shared by Albert Huggins and Mike Jones Jr., a delay of game and then a nice stop by the defense led to a 4th and 25, leading to an inevitable punt from the Miami end zone.

Woodside went deep to Josh Ali on the first play but Ali didn’t come down with it, unfortunately. On second down, Washington rumbled for eight yards after a short catch to bring it to third and manageable. Washington then made it fourth and short before picking up the fourth down carry for a first down. Godwin Igwebuike was back in after that and picked up six yards, followed by an easy first down via a pass to Zay Malone. Igwebuike kept things rolling to bring the Falcons into the red zone. Under pressure, Woodside found Tucker Fisk for a three yard pickup. The next pass to Mathew Sexton went for five yards to bring the Falcons to 3rd and 2 close to the end zone. Igwebuike then was blown up for one of the few times Friday evening for no real gain, bringing it to fourth and five yards. A fourth down attempt was broken up and it was a turnover on downs.

A couple of plays later, the Dolphins had a first down. with Devon Achane looking tough. A facemask kept Miami moving, and then a sideline first down pass kept it moving again. Skylar Thompson kept dealing on the next play for another first down. Penalties and poor play kept Miami moving into the next quarter.

4th Quarter

A Natrone Brooks sack put the Falcons in a favorable position, and on the next play Skylar Thompson flung a pass right into the hands of Atlanta safety Lukas Denis, who took full advantage. Turnover.

A quick two yard loss and then an incomplete pass led to 3rd and long for Atlanta, and a short unproductive Logan Woodside scrambled ended the drive. Punt.

Three yard gain and then a wild miss by Thompson led to 3rd and 7. He then threw a dart over the middle for a first down, but a big hit from Hellams led to an injury timeout. A run stuff on the subsequent play, nice coverage and an incomplete pass, and a penalty put Miami in a third and very long situation. Mike Jones Jr. delivered with pressure on the subsequent play to force a hopeless throw from Thompson, but Miami finally scored a field goal to put themselves on the board. 6-3 Falcons.

The Falcons ran into trouble early and often on the next drive, with a penalty on Tyler Vrabel adding to an incomplete pass thanks to a nice pass by Miami’s defense. Zay Malone then made a nice catch through contact to pick up a first down before Woodside was sacked. On 3rd and 18, the Falcons picked up about eight yards on a pass, and then they punted again.

I’ll apologize for missing a few plays owing to background Falcoholic items, but Miami’s drive down the field stalled a bit before midfield owing to a strong defensive stand from the Falcons, which was capped off by a Clifford Chattman-led sack of Skylar Thompson. Punt.

The punt led to a spectacular return and some nice blocking, with Dee Alford taking advantage of daylight to take it all the way in for a score, covering 79 yards in total. It was a spectacular play for Alford, who has been impressive since he arrived in Atlanta, and may well give him a longer look at the punt returner spot in addition to his likely role as the team’s nickel corner. 13-3 Falcons after a Koo extra point.

Breon Borders then poured it on with a pick-six off Thompson that made it 19-3, with Koo again missing the extra point.

The highlight on the next drive was Arnold Ebiketie taking down a beleaguered Thompson for a sack, with absolutely nobody preventing him from doing so, and the Falcons recovered the fumble.

Atlanta took an end zone shot on the next play but couldn’t connect, and they should have been dead in the water if not for a penalty that gave them a new set of downs as a disbelieving Mike McDaniel looked on from the Miami sideline. Logan Woodside couldn’t connect down teh sideline, and then there was only a short gain available for Igwebuike on the ground. One more carry took us to the end of the game, and the Falcons came away with a lopsided and defensively-fueled victory.