1.Four-Quarter Game: No matter the cause, the Falcons struggles putting together a complete game have been a large part of their 1-2 start this season and was certainly in play in Sunday’s 27-23 loss to the Dolphins. After jumping out to a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter, the Dolphins found their way back into the game and stayed there. In the third quarter the Falcons expanded their lead to 20-10, but would only get one more field goal on the board. A William Moore interception came with a 20-13 lead, but the offense couldn’t get any points. A hard hit on a Harry Douglas punt return gave the Dolphins new life and the game was tied up a few plays later. A Matt Bryant missed field goal and another Dolphins score left the Falcons 38 seconds to score a touchdown and take the game away. An interception on the final Falcons possession ended a game the Falcons will feel they should have won when they look back at the film on Monday. Some troubles in the redzone had the Falcons 2-for-5 (1-for-3 in the second half) and that had as much to do with Sunday’s loss as anything else you’ll find in the stat sheet.
2. Jacquizz & Jason: With Steven Jackson out this week, Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers stepped in and the run game turned out to be an asset for the offense. Both backups gave the Falcons a powerful ground game and combined to help give Atlanta 146 yards rushing. Rodgers led the Falcons with a career-high 86 yards and Snelling added 53. Snelling fielded most of the pass-catching duties out of the backfield and caught four passes for 58 yards and a touchdown. Their work on Sunday allowed the Falcons to maintain a balanced attack (38 passes vs. 30 runs) that had Miami guessing for large portions of the game. Moving forward, the running game looks like it can get the job done with Snelling and Rodgers while Jackson is on the mend.
3. Pass Rush Improving: Led by Osi Umenyiora, the Falcons pass rush was able to get to Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill to the tune of five sacks on the day. Umenyiora came through with his second big play in as many weeks when he strip-sacked Tannehill on the second play of the second half, a turnover that led to a Falcons touchdown. Akeem Dent, who saw his playing time increase with the injury to Sean Weatherspoon, had the first sack of his career and another he shared with fellow linebacker Joplo Bartu. Robert McClain added the fifth sack to give the Falcons seven on the season.
4. Julio Time: While one man alone couldn’t change the Falcons’ fortunes on Sunday, one man did put up another huge game and continues to be a matchup problem each week. Julio Jones didn’t find the end zone, but his 115 yards on nine catches were big. He made catches few others can grab look routine and through three games this season, he’s got 373 yards receiving. Though the Falcons have been slowed with injuries to key players on offense, Jones has been great each week this year and has shown he can be the go-to guy in this offense.
5. Reserves Step In: Coming into the game, there was no question the reserves would have to play a big role. Though it wasn’t a winning outcome, many of the Falcons reserves showed they’re capable of contributing when needed. In addition to the Rodgers/Snelling contributions, the Falcons got a touchdown from rookie tight end Levine Toilolo. A big target, Ryan found Toilolo in the end zone and another redzone weapon may be blossoming. Dent, stepping in as the leader of the defense, had five tackles in addition to his sacks. He also added a tackle for a loss and two QB hits. With Sam Baker out, Lamar Holmes, the starting right tackle to begin the season, slid over to the left to protect Ryan’s blindside and reserve Jeremy Trueblood guarded the right side. Both played well and the Falcons didn’t allow a sack in Sunday’s game.