We shouldn’t take much into these games should we? The Atlanta Falcons lost their home preseason opener Friday night to the Kansas City Chiefs 28-24 at Mercedes Benz Stadium. To describe the game let’s use a few clichés or movie titles.
It was a tale of two halves. Of course all games have two halves – it takes two to make a whole. The Falcons offense exploded in the first half and the 14 points scored is not indicative on how many they could or should have scored. The first team played the entire first quarter and the second team the second. Defense looked sharp the entire half except for failing on a Patrick Mahomes “Hail Mary” at the end of the half. The throw while being praised by football pundits because it traveled 69 yards in the air actually looked like an old school yard football game throw when you throw the ball as high as you can hoping for a miracle. For the Chief, it was a miracle as Tyreek Hill caught the ball for the score with 17 seconds remaining in the half to make the score 14-10. It was the second half that things got out of whack.
After moving the ball at will in the second half the Falcons were only able to cross the midfield stripe once. Kurt Benkert after showing promise in the preseason opener regressed completing less than 38 percent of his passes. A pick-6 late in the game also added insult to injury. The defensive reserves allowed two has-been reserve QBs Chad Henne (Still in the league – really?) and Matt McGloin to complete 85 percent of their passes. Henne orchestrated the game-winning drive to start the second half finishing by hitting Gehrig Dieter with a 27-yard strike. The fluke Mahomes Hail May touchdown began what was 25 unanswered points scored by the Chiefs.
But alas, this is the preseason and just like “Who’s Line Is It Anyway?” the points don’t count. So here are the Good, The Bad, And the Ugly From the game.
The Good. The Atlanta first team offense and even second team. Matt Ryan looked sharp in playing the first quarter. He engineered two long drives – an opening kickoff scoring drive that ended with him rolling left and hitting Austin Hooper from six yards out and another one that ended on a failed fourth down conversion deep in Kansas City territory. With kicker Matt Bryant inactive for the game coach Dan Quinn opted instead of kicking a field goal to go for it instead falling short.
Matt Schaub in the second quarter has similar numbers to Ryan’s as he led two nice drives one ending with a nice touchdown pass to Calvin Ridley from seven yards out as he slid between defenders in the end zone. And again he mounted another drive into the Chief’s red zone and instead of kicking the field goal they opted to go for it on fourth down and failed again.
Calvin Ridley was all he was advertised as being and maybe more coming out of the draft. He set the tone for the game with a nice 34 yard kickoff return to start the game and then made a nice catch on the opening drive for 36 yards reminiscent of something you’d expect from Julio Jones, who was inactive for the game. Ridley led the team in receptions and receiving yards on the game and caught his first touchdown pass.
The bad – Kurt Benkert. The rookie QB looks good under center. He is fleet of foot and mobile but his accuracy is for the birds. He complete only 37.5 percent of his passes Friday and completing barely 45 percent of his passes in the two games he’s played. Those aren’t NFL standards unless you’re looking back to the stats from the 1940s. Granted, the offensive line wasn’t much help but even when he had time to throw, his passes were off the mark or lacked touch. Late in the game to add insult to injury one of his passes was stuffed and picked off by KV linebacker Ben Niemann and returned 26 yards to put the final points on the board.
Ito Smith. Smith had a couple good runs for the Falcons trying to make the roster. His special teams skill need work. Smith flubbed or fumbled a couple of kickoff returns, recovering one well enough returning it 23 yards while the other not so much for ten.
The Ugly. Second team and reserve secondary. Damontae Kazee looked good picking off a Mahomes pass in the second quarter and Blidi Wreh-Wilson broke up a sure touchdown pass in the end zone. KC’s second and third team quarterbacks completed 17-of-20 passes in the second half for a combined QB rating of 113.1.
Overall despite the score the Falcons already look well oiled. They key will be keeping everyone healthy for the entire length of the season. The Falcons head down south for the third week of the preseason as they visit the Jacksonville Jaguars Saturday night.
– Dave Weinthal
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