By Itoro Umontuen | The Atlanta Voice
The Atlanta Falcons blew a 17-0 lead en route to a disappointing 20-17 loss against the Miami Dolphins at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Both the Falcons and Dolphins are 3-2; however, Miami has a two-game winning streak and Atlanta has a two-game losing streak.
The Falcons sprinted out of the gate with a Matt Bryant field goal with 9:48 left in the first quarter. After Miami punted, Atlanta extended their lead to ten points after quarterback Matt Ryan hooked up wide receiver Marvin Hall on a 40-yard touchdown strike. Hall, who was signed from the practice squad yesterday, was running free behind the Miami secondary. His touchdown reception and the PAT made it 10-0 Atlanta.
Two possessions later, the Atlanta Falcons were at it again. This time, running back Tevin Coleman extended his right arm after diving over the goal line for another Atlanta touchdown. The play was reviewed and the ruling was upheld. The score was 17-0 Atlanta with 5:35 remaining in the 2nd quarter. It appeared the Falcons would coast to victory.
That was the final time the Dirty Birds would score in the contest.
Miami got the ball to start the second half and they went on their most impressive drive of the game: a 15 play, 75-yard drive that took 8:43 off of the clock, ending with an 11-yard touchdown strike from Jay Cutler to Kenny Stills. The PAT was good and the Dolphins trailed 17-7.
After the Falcons went three-and-out, the Miami Dolphins were seeking more points. On 3rd-and-9 from the 50-yard line, Falcons cornerback Robert Alford committed a 26-yard pass interference penalty. Two plays later, Cutler’s pass was intercepted by Deion Jones.
However, a roughing the passer penalty was called on Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, giving Miami an automatic first down on the Falcons’ 11-yard line. On the next play, Cutler found Jarvis Landry in the left flat all alone for a seven-yard touchdown. The PAT was good and with 1:38 left in the third quarter, the Falcons now led 17-14.
“I never want to put my team in a situation like that, and I definitely don’t want anyone to ever think that I did something dirty,” Jarrett said regarding his roughing the passer penalty. “But in the heat of it, it looked good to me, and it turned out that it wasn’t, and they ended up scoring. We just have to go back to work and get back on track.”
Matt Ryan completed 24-of-35 for 248 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. Ryan has now thrown six interceptions in his last three games.
Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman rushed 12 times for 82 yards in the first half, averaging more than 5 yards before contact per rush. After the half break, Freeman and Coleman totaled 18 yards rushing on just six carries, and averaged minus-0.33 yards before contact per rush.
“We’ve been saying it for forever, but again, it is not what anyone else says about us,” said Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake. “I don’t care about what anyone else says about us, it’s about the guys to my left and my right. We came into halftime and we knew we were going to do whatever we had to in order to get this win. We had guys buckle down and make some adjustments and did the job.
“Again, who cares what people say about us?” he continued. “We believe in us, we are going to go out there and fight regardless of the situation, back against the wall or not. I think that is just how we are built.”
While the Dolphins were patting each other on the back, the Falcons were left licking their wounds whilst preparing for their much-anticipated game against the New England Patriots next Sunday.
“Today, I thought for the second half it was a case of where we had some errors and some missed opportunities that were the biggest factor in the loss today,” said Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn. “By no means do I mean it’s a systemic one or game management one. In fact, I was happy how it went at the end of the half. We had good game management, and I was happy at the end.
“While we’re on that topic, we were going to go win it at the end,” Quinn added. “Make no mistake about it, we had time-outs, we had time, and we were going to go down to try and score. I thought there were some good plays that we executed on the way, and then the turnover at the end was certainly costly after the tipped pass. We’re disappointed. For us to be the team we can be, we’ve got to be more consistent.”