The Atlanta Falcons crowned the new “Jewel of the South” playing sloppy football in losing to the Arizona Cardinals 24-14. May be it was the excitement of the new stadium, or may be they got lost once inside like I did, but regardless you try not to put too much into these preseason games no matter how much you love foot ball or your home team.
Nothing seemed to go right for the Falcon first team offense as Ryan’s overall QB rating was 8.5 – yes, you read that correctly. Ryan and his receivers seemed out of sync the entire first quarter before sending in the second team.
After an inspiring display by the Atlanta defense forcing the Cardinal to punt on their opening drive things got off to an ominous start for Ryan and Co. The league MVP saw his first pass attempt intercepted. Ryan threw to tight end Levine Toilolo who batted the ball up in the air and it was picked off by the Cardinals’ Tyrann Mathieu.
The Cardinals proceeded to drive inside the Falcon 10 when Keanu Neal stripped Chris Johnson of the ball at the five and it was recovered by rookie OLB Duke Riley at the five.
The Falcons offense started to hit their stride a little as they drove just past midfield before being forced to put the ball away. Tevin Coleman looked most sharp on the drive running for 19 yards on three carries and caught a Ryan pass for another 286 more.
Carson Palmer then proceeded to drive the Cardinals 90 yards on nine plays connecting with John Brown deep along the right side of the end zone from 28 yards on their first play of the second quarter to score the first points in the new Mercedes Benz Stadium.
Once again ryan and company fell short as another series stalled at midfield. Carson won the battle of starting QBs completing 8-of-13 for 86 yards and a touchdown while Ryan completed 4-of-11 for 36 yards and an interception.
“We just never really got into a rhythm offensively. That’s something we would’ve liked to have done in that first quarter of work, but we didn’t. That’ll be something that we need to work on as we have this fourth preseason game coming up and then getting ready for the regular season,” said Ryan.
After that series the reserves took over and saw the Cardinals extend their lead to 17-0 before Atlanta got on the board at the end of the first half on a 20-yard Matt Bryant field goals with 20 seconds remaining as Atlanta saw their drive stalling at the two before settling on the kick.
Taking the second half kickoff the Falcons marched down again in nice fashion with Matt Simms now at the helm. Driving inside the Cardinals ten the drive stalled when Simms was sacked on the Arizona 10. The team settled for a 28-yard field goal from Mike Meyer to pull within 11.
With 6:58 the Cardinals put the game on ice when James Sumners scored from five yard aout to make the score 24-6.
The night for Atlanta didn’t come with at least one offensive highlight. Simms threw a quick out to rookie WR Josh Magee who cut into the middle and outran everyone to the end zone 57 yards for a touchdown. A two-point conversion made it 24-14 but that was the end of the scoring as the Falcons failed to open their new stadium in style falling to 0-3 on the preseason.
While the offensive sow was rusty at best the defense looked hungry and aggressive forcing four fumbles and recovering three of them. The secondary gave up two touchdown passes in the second quarter. The Atlanta defensive line gave plenty of pressure despite recording only one QB sack while Simms for the Falcons was sacked three times.
The final tune up for the regular season takes place Thursday at Mercedes Benz Stadium as the Falcons play host to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The regular season kicks off September 10 as the Falcons travel to Chicago to take on the Bears.
– Dave Weinthal
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