The Miami Dolphins hosted the Atlanta Falcons in a Preseason Week 2 contest Saturday night. The game proved to be the dress rehearsal contest for Miami, who used their starter into the third quarter. The Falcons had their starters on the field for the most part but also had players like quarterback Matt Ryan not participate in the contest.
The Dolphins' offense was efficient throughout the game, including the first half where they led 14-3 at the break. In a game without six of their receivers, including two starters, Miami found success through the air as quarterback Tua Tagovailoa racked up a 107.7 passer rating and connected with six different receivers. Mack Hollins led the first half with four receptions for 49 yards, while Myles Gaskin also had four catches for 44 yards and a touchdown. Gaskin also found the endzone on the ground, picking up 27 yards on six carries while Malcolm Brown picked up 18 yards on three carries.
The second half transitioned to the backups for Miami, though Sam Eguavoen continued to have an impact into the third quarter. The linebacker recorded 11 tackles, four sacks, and a safety for the Dolphins. Miami continued to dominate, however, as all three quarterbacks, Tua Tagovailoa, Jacoby Brissett, and Reid Sinnett, threw touchdown passes and the ground game seemed to work.
Falcons 17 - Dolphins 37
The Falcons began the game with the ball, looking to establish the run early with Qadree Ollison taking the handoff on three of the first four plays of the drive. Quarterback A.J. McCarron, starting in place of Matt Ryan in both preseason games thus far for Atlanta, was able to pick up a chunk of yards on one pass attempt, connecting with Christian Blake for 16 yards, but saw two incompletions end the drive with the Falcons settling for a 53-yard field goal to end a seven-play, 28-yard drive. Falcons 3-0.
Miami, playing without six of the wide receivers, opened the game feeding the ball to rookie receiver Jaylen Waddle. The drive started with a bubble screen from quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to Waddle, then a nice catch-and-run from running back Myles Gaskin for 19-yards. After a short run from Gaskin, Tagovailoa went back to Waddle for a seven-yard gain. Another short run from Gaskin was followed by an end-around run from Waddle. After a sack, Tagovailoa found Gaskin for a 12-yard gain, then the running back ran for 16 yards before finishing the drive on a two-yard touchdown run. The concern from the drive was for Waddle, who was injured on the 16-yard run from Gaskin when a defender making the tackle leg-whipped the receiver. Dolphins 7-3.
Miami’s defense found their groove on the next Falcons possession, forcing a three-and-out. Andrew Van Ginkel blew up a running play in the backfield for a two-yard loss on second down, then cornerbacks Byron Jones and Xavien Howard blanketed their receivers on third down, leading to an incomplete pass and a Falcons punt.
The Dolphins immediately started moving again, this time with wide receiver Jakeem Grant, running back Slavon Ahmed, and tight end Mike Gesicki joining the attack. Grant picked up seven yards on the first play, with Tagovailoa then scrambling for an eight-yard gain. After a short run from Ahmed, Tagovailoa connected again with Grant for nine more yards. A run from Ahmed was followed by a ten-yard pass to the running back. After a holding penalty on tackle Austin Jackson, Tagovailoa was able to connect with Mack Hollins, who tipped the pass back to himself on the crossing route. Tagovailoa then found Gesicki down the middle for 13 yards before a Gaskin run for one yard and an eight-yard pass from Tagovailoa to Gaskin for the touchdown. Dolphins 14-3.
The Falcons methodically moved against Miami’s defense on their next drive. Tajae Sharpe started the drive with a 21-yard gain on a pass from McCarron, but McCarron’s night ended on the next play, when he was hurt on a seven-yard scramble. He tried to stick it out one more play but realized something was not right and left the contest. Feleipe Franks entered the game after that and continued the Falcons’ movement, including picking up 20 yards on a 4th-and-2 when he was flushed back in the pocket, nearly sacked, then scrambled for the gain. Aided by a pass interference penalty, the Falcons were able to get to the Miami two-yard line, but turned the ball over on downs as Eric Rowe broke up a pass in the endzone.
Miami had a similar result on their own drive. After getting out of the shadow of the goalline thanks to some strong runs from Malcolm Brown, Tagovailoa started firing the ball around the field, finding Mack Hollins for 13 yards, then Gesicki for 30 yards, and Hollins again for seven yards. On 4th-and-3, though, Tagovailoa attempted to get the ball to Malcolm Perry, but the pass was broken up by Richie Grant and Miami turned over the ball on downs at the Falcons’ 14-yard line.
Atlanta came out looking to run a two-minute drill, but back-to-back sacks from Sam Eguavoen ended any hope of making progress for the Falcons and they were forced to punt after five plays.
Starting with the ball at their own 40-yard line, the Dolphins attempted to execute their own hurry-up offense. Tagovailoa connected with Hollins for 15 yards, then grounded the ball to stop the clock. Tagovailoa then found Gaskin for a five-yard gain, with the running back getting out of bounds to stop the clock with three seconds on the clock. Kicker Jason Sanders attempted a 58-yard field goal as the clock expired, but the ball curled wide left
Halftime. Falcons 3 - Dolphins 14.
Miami received the second-half kickoff, with Jacoby Brissett replacing Tagovailoa at quarterback as Miami began rotating in their second-team players. The starting offensive line, other than Jesse Davis who was replaced by Liam Eichenberg early in the first half, remained in the game. Brown picked up nine yards to start the drive, then picked up another two before Brissett threw a pass to rookie tight end Hunter Long, who made his first reception of the preseason, for four yards. Brissett then found Kirk Merritt, who broke a couple of tackles to gain 27 yards. A short pass to the flat from Brissett to Ahmed picked up nine yards down the sideline. After being stopped for no gain, Brown came back for an 11-yard power run on 3rd-and-1, setting up 1st-and-Goal from the Falcons’ two-yard line. A one-yard run from Brown set up another one-yard run from Brown for the score. Dolphins 21-3.
The Falcons’ first drive of the half continued the Eguavoen show. After a one-yard run from the Falcons 12 for Javian Hawkins, Franks avoided a sack up the middle, rolled to his right, only to meet Eguavoen for a four-yard loss. On the next play, Franks was pulled down in the endzone for a safety...by Eguavoen. Dolphins 23-3.
Miami started at their own 18-yard line after the free kick rolled away from Malcolm Perry. Gerrid Doaks and Patrick Laird took over as the primary running backs as the team also pulled all their offensive line starters. Doaks picked up six yards, then Brissett found tight end Chris Myarick for six yards. Doaks then picked up eight more yards, with Brissett then finding Perry for a short catch, with the receiver turning up the field for a 29-yard gains. Doaks and Laird contributed a couple of short runs, while Brissett worked with Robert Foster for a couple of catches, including an eight-yard dime dropped into the receiver in the endzone. Dolphins 30-3.
Atlanta came out running the ball, picking up short gains that were accented by longer throws. Franks was able to find receivers for gains of 14 yards, 15 yards, and 13 yards, while running for another nine, as part of a 13-play, 75-yard drive. Running back D’Onta Foreman carried the ball eight times on the drive for 24 yards, including a one-yard score. Dolphins 30-10.
Reid Sinnett took over at quarterback for Miami with 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The drive started with a Doaks run for no gain. Doaks picked up four yards on the next play, then Sinnett connected with Merritt for five yards, setting up 4th-and-1. Despite Sinnett trying to convince the coaches that the team should go for it on their own 28-yard line, the Dolphins punted for the first time in the game.
The Falcons drive ended immediately, however, as Franks threw a pass across the middle, with Calvin Munson leaping up to catch the pass as it was headed over him.
After a Jordan Scarlett run for four yards down to the Falcons’ two-yard line, Sinnett found Merritt in the back corner of the endzone for a toe-tapping touchdown. Dolphins 37-10.
Atlanta did better on the subsequent possession, going 75-yards in just five plays. They picked up 30 yards on consecutive running plays, with Javian Hawkins picking up the first of them and taking the ball to the Miami 30yard line. Caleb Huntley then took it the rest of the way for the touchdown. Dolphins 37-17.
Miami looked to exercise their four-minute offense, using the ground game to keep the clock running. Scarlett picked up four yards, then seven yards, the three yards, and finally four yards as the Dolphins took the clock to the two-minute warning. After a Doaks run for five yards, Sinnett knelt on the ball to end the game.
Dolphins begin with Noah Igbinoghene back returning kicks. Interesting move that could make Jakeem Grant expendable if Igbinoghene can prove he is ready to be the primary returner for Miami.
That was a scare with Waddle, but he seems to be fine. He missed the touchdown play but got back into the game as soon as Miami started their next drive. He was checked in the blue tent and in the locker room, but never seemed to have an issue after getting up off the field.
Salvon Ahmed looked strong on the second drive for Miami. He is fast and able to provide a relief valve for Tagovailoa.
The Dolphins secondary is going to be scary for opposing quarterbacks. Who do you target? Xavien Howard is going to pick off anything throw toward him, while Jones is in the hip pocket of whomever he is covering. Those two are a special tandem.
Sam Eguavoen is having himself a game. He is all over the field. He recorded back-to-back sacks on the last Falcons drive of the first half. Just a beast on the defense.
The opening drive of the second half felt like the coaches left in the starting offensive line with the goal of power running to get them experience.
Eichenberg stays in when the rest of the offensive line is pulled. The rookie is getting a chance to gain some experience. They have him playing right tackle still, while Larnel Coleman is in at left tackle.
When your punter make his first appearance in the game with eight minutes left on the clock, your offense has been pretty good all night.
That was an incredible performance for the Dolphins, both on offense and on defense. It is still preseason, and you cannot take this as a sign that Miami will be this dominate in the regular season, but it was impressive.