Thursday night, the Atlanta Falcons were defeated 22-10 by the New York Jets inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Before the game, Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said his starters would see more playing time.
Atlanta’s starting quarterback Matt Ryan faced constant pressure from a Jets defense led by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. The Jets would blitz Ryan routinely, sacking him three times. However, Ryan finished the night completing 10 of 14 passes for 118 yards. His stat line would have been more impressive if wide receiver Justin Hardy or running back Brian Hill did not drop sure touchdowns in the endzone.
“It’s always exciting to get those first few series under your belt,” Ryan said. “Knock the rust off and get your feel back.”
Notable players missing from tonight’s action were wide receiver Julio Jones, linebacker Deion Jones and offensive lineman James Carpenter.
Three starters that missed the majority of the 2018 season, strong safety Keanu Neal, free safety Ricardo Allen along with running back Devonta Freeman, each played in the first half. Neal with a total of three tackles (two solo) showed a strong start in his season debut. Neal brought an intensity and emotional leadership to the defensive side of the ball. Allen had two total tackles, returned as the unquestioned leader in the secondary.
In a pleasant surprise, cornerback Desmond Trufant played aggressively as he led Atlanta with 5 tackles. Trufant’s only pitfall of the night was a pass interference call with 2:48 remaining in the second quarter. With the infraction not-withstanding, Trufant was very active Thursday night.
One downside for the Falcons tonight was new kicker, Giorgio Tavecchio. Tavecchio missed a pair of 52-yard field goal attempts. One appeared to be deflected at the line, the other sailed wide left.
On the injury front, Falcons defensive back Damontae Kazee left the field on the Jets’ opening drive with a rib injury. He left the game with 11:49 to go in the first quarter. Also, wide receiver Russell Gage, who went down hard on his hip with 5:34 remaining in the second quarter. Gage was on the field for a few minutes in visible pain before he was assisted to the locker room. Neither Gage or Kazee returned to action.
Atlanta will face the Washington Redskins next Thursday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in their fourth of five preseason matchups. With the loss tonight, Atlanta has lost 11 straight preseason games.