First Quarter:The Falcons put the "explosive" title to the test and didn't disappoint. After the first drive sputtered out on three downs, defensive end John Abraham intercepted a Miami pass and the Falcons first-team offense turned on the firepower, specifically that of rookie wide receiver Julio Jones. Running back Michael Turner ran for 21 powerful yards and a touchdown, but Jones stole the show with two receptions for 43 yards and a carry on a reverse play for 11 yards. Wide receiver Harry Douglas added the quarter's second touchdown with a 20-yard strike from Matt Ryan. Kicker Matt Bryant added a 27-yard field goal to give the Falcons an impressive and commanding 17-0 first quarter lead.
Second Quarter:The second quarter was much different from the first and featured two touchdowns from Miami. Backup quarterback J.P. Wilson lead Atlanta's second-team offense and while he was impressive in moments, he was also sacked twice and tossed an interception. The second sack resulted in a fumble that led to Miami's quarterback Matt Moore completing a 28-yard touchdown strike. Second-year safety Rafael Bush had a solid quarter of football on defense. In addition to manning safety, Bush lined up at the nickel back cornerback position. He played well in coverage and had one tackle. The quarter ended with Atlanta hanging on to a 17-14.
Third Quarter:On Miami's first drive of the quarter, they went deep. Rookie undrafted free agent corner Darrin Walls was covering Miami receiver Roberto Wallace stride-for-stride. Walls knocked the pass behind him to the trailing Bush, who caught the interception, continuing his strong play on the night. Wilson was knocked from the game on the ensuing possession and Chris Redman took over at quarterback. The third quarter also featured the first appearance by rookie running back Jacquizz Rodgers. The back's first carry was an impressive 8-yard run between the tackles for a first down. Redman moved the offense down the field on Atlanta's only possession of the quarter, resulting in a Bryant 24-yard field goal. Miami responded with a touchdown drive to take the lead at the close of the quarter, 21-20.
Fourth Quarter:The highlight of the quarter was Franks 44-yard punt return late in the quarter. In a regular season game, a return like that could have lead to a game-tying score and a turning-point kind of moment. Because it's the preseason, Bryant got in more field goal work to draw the Falcons to a 28-23 deficit. A punt return from Miami's Phillip Livas taken back for a 75-yard touchdown gave Miami the lead halfway through the quarter. Franks made the punt return battle in training camp interesting with his 44-yard return and followed it up with a 33-yard return with less than two minutes remaining in the game. Atlanta's second and third-teamers were driving before an Adam Froman interception ended the drive and the game. Wide receiver Brandyn Harvey had two exceptional catches for 35 yards in the fourth quarter. The Falcons lost their first preseason game of 2011 by the final score of 28-23.
Play of the Game:It could be argued that Jones' mere introduction to the Georgia Dome crowd was exciting (the rookie received a rousing cheer) and certainly Douglas' touchdown grab with tight coverage showed how the Atlanta offense can finish. But since all eyes were on the first-round rookie Friday night, he gets the honors. After going to Jones unsuccessfully twice to open the game, on the second possession, Ryan connected with Jones on a short screen that the receiver turned into an exciting 21-yard gain. The Georgia Dome held its breath as they thought they might be watching the former Alabama star scamper for a touchdown.
Player of the Game:Fan favorite Julio Jones wins this honor with his two receptions and one run, totaling 55 yards on the night.
Turning Point:The outcome is what it is, but the consolation of a preseason game is studying how the first team plays. After the first possession, Abraham's interception of a Henne pass gave the ball right back to Atlanta's offense. With the ball back in Ryan's hands, the Falcons scored on a six-play, 56-yard drive and a 10-play, 83-yard drive to take the commanding first-quarter, first-team lead.
Stat of the Game:163 yards for the first-team offense in the first quarter. Ryan lead a balanced attack of 24 plays with 55 rushing yards and 108 passing. Ryan was an efficient six-for-10 on the night for 90 yards and one touchdown.
Tweet of the Game:A lot of great tweets on Twitter on the evening as we saw Julio Jones make his way onto the worldwide trending topics. One of the highlights of the evening came after Atlanta's electric first scoring drive from @GrrrlZilla: "Egad. That was one sexy series. 7-0 #Falcons! First TD dance o the season!! #AtlMia11"
Quote of the Day:Head coach Mike Smith had a glowing review of his young receiver's night: "I think Julio got indoctrinated into what the NFL's about in terms of the plays that he made, they were outstanding. All three touches resulted in first downs. He showed some skills that we saw when he was playing at the University of Alabama."