Friday night started out ugly for Miami but the Dolphins second and third units got the job done to earn the 28-23 meaningless preseason win.
Jake Long didn’t even dress for the game and Jason Taylor, Brandon Marshall and Reggie Bush suited up but never stepped on the field during the game.
The defense did its job and stopped the Falcons first offensive series on three straight passing plays. But on the Dolphins first pass on offense, quarterback Chad Henne threw a tad behind tight end Anthony Fasano which led to a John Abraham interception. The first of three turnovers for Miami gave the Falcons decent field position and against half of Miami’s second unit on defense the Falcons punched in the first score of the game on a Michael Turner 2-yard touchdown run.
On offense Miami looked anemic to begin. On the Dolphins first three drives Henne completed only one of four pass attempts for five yards and threw two interceptions.
The first was mostly on Fasano, who had both hands on the ball. The second interception came an a grossly underthrown pass to Davone Bess in which Henne simply stared down his receiver. On Miami’s fourth offensive series, against the Falcons second unit on defense, Henne completed all three of his passes for 72 yards including a 44-yard bomb to Brian Hartline for a touchdown. On third down in that series, rookie Daniel Thomas caught a pass and broke the play open for a 25 yard gain and a first down. After the touchdown to Hartline Henne’s night was done completing four of his eight pass attempts for 77 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
Miami’s offensive line was pushed around by the Falcons starters and throughout the game the Dolphins failed to get a rushing attack going. Daniel Thomas, Lex Hilliard and Kory Sheets combined for 26 yards on 15 rush attempts for a 1.7 yards per carry average.
Lyndon Murtha was called for a fall start on the first play of the second quarter and Chad Henne seemed to snap at Murtha letting him know those types of mistakes are unacceptable.
Matt Moore stepped in nicely completing 11 of his 18 pass attempts for two touchdowns and one interception. Moore was flushed out of the pocket a few times and didn’t seem to make any big mistakes. His one interception was a ball thrown to Roberto Wallace into coverage. Wallace couldn’t come down with the ball and batted it in the air. Moore completed a 25-yard touchdown pass to Wallace with eight seconds left in the first half and again on the last play of the third quarter connecting with Edmond Gates on a 6-yard touchdown pass.
Pat Devlin looked like the undrafted rookie as he was sacked twice and didn’t complete either of his two pass attempts. Kevin O’Connell was inserted in the game with just a few minutes left and a five point lead so the only time he dropped back O’Connell scrambled for a 38 yard run which was called back on a Matt Kopa holding call.
The Dolphins defense started off on the right foot by holding the Falcons to a three-and-out on the first series but after the offense put Miami in a hole with the interception Atlanta then knocked off 17 consecutive points, mostly against Miami’s reserves. The defense couldn’t contain Atlanta’s first-round pick Julio Jones whom the Falcons were intent on getting involved early on. The defensive line also got pushed around by the Falcons front line as Jason Snelling and Michael Turner combined for 48 yard on ten carries and a touchdown. A.J. Edds and Jared Odrick, both of whom were injured most of their rookie seasons, saw significant playing time and both were effective. Edds led the team in tackles with seven and a sack. Odrick had a tackle for a loss and was constantly in the backfield hurrying the quarterback.
Benny Sapp had back-to-back plays defending a pass intended for Eric Weems and then interception a John Parker Wilson pass and returning it 17 yards.
The star of the defense though was undoubtedly seventh-round draft pick Jimmy Wilson out of Montana. Wilson got a chance to play and showed the coaching staff what he could do.Wilsonwas sent on corner blitzes a few times once sacking the quarterback and forcing a fumble. Wilson also had five tackles and defended a few passes as well.
Miami’s defense caused three turnovers and ended Atlanta’s bid for the victory when Vince Agnew intercepted an Adam Froman pass at Miami’s seven yard line with just 50 seconds left in the game.
On special teams Edmond Gates did a decent job returning kicks but the star was Phillip Livas. The undrafted rookie out of Louisiana Tech returned a punt for 75 yards making people miss all along the way.
All in all, it wasn’t pretty but it wasn’t ugly either. The first preseason game is usually filled with mistakes and penalties displaying the lack of practice. Except for the occasional penalty it seems that the Dolphins have a firm grasp of Mike Nolan’s defensive scheme and Brian Daboll’s plan on offense.
The Dolphins still need to work on their first team offense but it is clear to see that Miami has some young talent and very good depth at all positions. The next preseason game is August 19th against the Carolina Panthers.
About the Author
Written by Zachary Duarte
A senior at Florida Atlantic University studying Communications, Zack is an avid sports fan and learning the ins and outs of the sports media world at WAXY 790 The Ticket.