MIAMI — The Atlanta Falcons were
stout against the run, dug in on third down and came up with a big
interception. Coach Mike Smith will take more of the same in the regular
Atlanta gave up only a field goal
while Miami starting quarterback Chad Henne was in the game and beat the
Dolphins 16-6 on Friday night.
Middle linebacker Curtis Lofton led
the Falcons' defensive charge with 11 tackles, two for losses. Erik
Coleman intercepted a pass in the end zone, and the Dolphins converted
only one of nine third- and fourth-down situations with Henne, who
played one series into the third quarter.
"Our defense played well," Smith said.
"We were getting off the field, and you've got to do that to limit your
exposure on defense."
Lawrence Sidbury had a sack, two
quarterback hits and a tackle for a loss. The Falcons (2-1) are hoping
for defensive improvement after ranking 23rd in the NFL last year in
yards allowed per play despite a 9-7 record.
"We wanted to come out and set a tone,
and we did a good job of that," Lofton said. "We've got two weeks left
to do some fine-tuning. It's like a car – you've got to keep fine-tuning
it so it will run pretty."
Atlanta's Matt Ryan threw his first
touchdown pass of the exhibition season. He led scoring drives of 60 and
54 yards, the second of which took more than seven minutes.
Ryan played one series into the third
quarter and finished 13 of 26 for 103 yards, with one interception. He
helped the Falcons convert eight of 14 third-down situations against
"I liked what I saw tonight from all three phases," Smith said. "We played effectively and with a lot of energy."
Michael Turner was a workhorse for Atlanta in the first half, rushing 47 yards in 16 carries. He lost a fumble.
Henne went 10 of 22 for 123 yards with one interception, and at least three of his passes were dropped.
"We weren't efficient," Henne said. "Overall it was sloppy. We really need to get better. Time is running out for us."
Henne and Brandon Marshall hooked up
for completions of 26 and 20 yards in the final 45 seconds of the first
half, giving the Dolphins a first down at the 7. But linebacker Mike
Peterson tipped a second-down pass, and Coleman intercepted it in the
"Mike Peterson did a great job of
getting back in coverage and getting a hand on the ball," Coleman said.
"When it went up in the air, I had to have it."
Miami's Ronnie Brown ran for only 9
yards in eight carries, two out of the wildcat. Ricky Williams carried
four times for 5 yards.
"They were better than we were up
front physically," Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said. "We played sloppy,
inconsistent – at times did some decent things, but couldn't finish.
There was something always unexecuted."
The Falcons converted three
third-down situations on their second possession before Ryan hit Roddy
White for an 18-yard score. White later beat Sean Smith on a deep route,
but Ryan overthrew him near the goal line.
Smith did not start because he violated a team rule, Sparano said.
Falcons backup quarterback Chris
Redman led a 71-yard drive on his first series and capped it with a
5-yard touchdown throw to Brian Finneran. Redman went 5 of 8 for 56
Dolphins backup Chad Pennington went 7 of 14 for 62 yards and led them to a field goal.
Atlanta's first-teamers had two
turnovers, both in the first half. Cornerback Vontae Davis forced
Turner's fumble, and Dolphins newcomer Karlos Dansby recovered, while
Ryan was intercepted by Yeremiah Bell.
Davis made seven tackles, one for a loss, and three passes defended.
Dan Carpenter kicked a 53-yard field
goal on Miami's first possession, and hit a 35-yarder in the second
half. Matt Bryant made a 26-yarder for the Falcons.
Cornerback Dunta Robinson, the
Falcons' major offseason acquisition, did not play because of a
lingering hamstring injury. Defensive tackle Peria Jerry, the 2008
first-round draft pick who missed most of his rookie season with a knee
injury, made his 2010 debut and had a quarterback hit.
Miami third-string tight end Joey Haynos left the game with a foot injury, and receiver Brian Hartline hurt his left hip.