The Miami Dolphins beat the Atlanta Falcons for their first Preseason win in 2015. The win comes once again behind a strong defensive performance, and an efficient offense, able to move the ball and put up points early in the game. The contest, the third Preseason game for both clubs, served as the "dress rehearsal" for the regular season, with both teams using their starters for an extended period of time.
The Dolphins started the game with a five play drive, but had to punt. The Falcons came out and out-did the Dolphins by going three-and-out on their first possession, in no small part due to defensive tackle Earl Mitchell. Miami's starting defensive tackle not named Ndamukong Suh tackled running back Tevin Coleman for a loss on the first play of the possession, then sacked quarterback Matt Ryan on second down. After an incomplete pass on third down, Atlanta punted it to Miami.
Miami ran seven plays on the next possession, but totaled a negative nine yards on the drive. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill connected on an eight-yard pass to running back Lamar Miller, followed by a nine-yard pass to Jarvis Landry. Then penalties bookended a Lamar Miller one-yard run, with Miami losing 20 yards on the two flags. Two incomplete passes later, and Miami lined up to punt, only to have long snapper John Denney skip the ball back toMatt Darr, who picked it up but was tackled for a turnover on downs.
Atlanta would take the mistake from Miami and turn it into points, with Ryan finding Devin Hester for a 13-yard pass, then an 8-yard pass. Coleman then carried the ball for three-yards before an incomplete pass followed by an Olivier Vernon tackle for a seven-yard loss. An incomplete pass would lead to a 43-yard field goal from Matt Bryant, and a 3-0 lead for Atlanta.
After a pair of punts, the Dolphins found their offensive rhythm, going 79 yards in just six play, highlighted by a Jarvis Landry 46-yard catch and run on the first play of the drive. Tannehill then found Miller for six yards, followed by another Landry reception, this time for 14 yards. Tannehill connected with Greg Jennings next, gaining nine yards, moving the ball to the Atlanta four-yard line. Miller would be stopped for no gain on the next play, but an offensive holding penalty on Jamil Douglas backed Miami up to the Atlanta 14. Tannehill picked up 12 yards on a pass to Miller on the second-down play, followed by a two yard touchdown pass to Rishard Matthews.
With the extra point, Miami took a 7-3 lead, carrying it through three more Atlanta possessions that ended in a punt before a Miami fumble near the end of the half led to a 3-play, 15-yard drive with the Falcons adding a second field goal to the scoreboard.
Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill left the game just before the half, finishing the day with a 15-for-19, 145 yards, 1 touchdown, 116.0 passer rating day. Miller ran for 22 yards on six carries, while Landry gained 84 yards on 5 receptions. The Miami defense recorded four sacks in the opening half, one each from Jelani Jenkins, Earl Mitchell, and Cameron Wake, and a half sack each for Chris McCain and Terrence Fede.
Miami kicked off to start the second half, with the Falcons punting seven plays later. Miami would not fare any better, going three-and-out on the next drive.
Atlanta would drive after the punt, moving the ball 51 yards, seemingly with little resistance. Quarterback TJ Yates directed the Falcons deep into Miami territory, picking up 47 yards through the air. The Miami defense would clamp down, however, stopping the Falcons twice from the one-yard line, with Zach Vigil making a tackle at the line of scrimmage on 3rd down, followed by a Mike Hull sack of Yates on fourth down, with both undrafted free agent linebackers looking to prove to coaches they deserve a spot on the roster.
The Miami possession would not be able to take advantage of the drive, however, despite moving the ball 53 yards in seven plays. Quarterback Matt Moore connected on a 27 yard pass to Matt Hazel to begin the drive, then rookie running back Jay Ajayi ran twice for six yards and eight yards before Moore returned to the air, finding tight end Jake Stoneburner for 17 yards.
After a false start penalty and the end of the third quarter, Moore threw two incomplete passes. On 3rd-and-15, Moore again looked to pass, this time targeting Ajayi going deep down the sideline, only to have his arm hit as he attempted to make the throw. The ball would be picked off by the Falcons, and returned 34 yards, setting up the Falcons with great starting field position.
After picking up a first down, the Falcons would stall, gaining just seven more yards on the possession and having to settle for a 39-yard field goal from Bryan. The kick pushed Atlanta into the lead at 9-7.
Miami would answer on their next possession. Quarterback Josh Freeman entered the game and drove the team 69 yards in 11 plays, making several nice throws, as well as watching Ajayi continue to run hard during the drive. Rookie kicker Andrew Franks made his first field goal attempt of the Preseason on the drive, connecting from 32 yards away and giving Miami a 10-9 lead.
The Falcons would take the ball and look to once again take the lead. After an eight-yard gain from running back Terron Ward, Yates would be sacked by defensive tackle Anthony Johnson - who would be called for a neutral zone infraction on the next snap. After a couple of small gains, Yates would fumble at the Atlanta 42-yard line, with Miami's Deandre Coleman coming up with the ball.
Miami would gain eight yards on the drive, but Franks would add to the Miami lead with a 51-yard field goal conversion, extending the score to 13-9 in Miami's favor.
Another long drive for Atlanta would end after 7 plays with a fumble, and Miami would kneel to end the game. Miami won their first game of the Preseason, improving to 1-2 in the exhibition season, behind a solid defense and an efficient offense once again.
The Dolphins next play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, also in Miami, on September 3 in the final Preseason game of the year.