The Atlanta Falcons scored their first touchdown of the coach Arthur Smith era, but it didn't come until the fourth quarter, and it wasn't nearly enough in a 37-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday.
Miami's offense looked crisp the entire night. Tua Tagovailoa and Jacoby Brissett combined to go 24-for-31 and averaged more than nine yards per pass. Tagovailoa completed 16 of those passes for 183 yards while Brissett went 8-for-8 for 99 yards. Both signal callers had touchdowns.
AJ McCarron struggled again and left early in the second quarter with a right knee injury. Before departing, McCarron went 3 of 6 for 43 yards.
Smith said he is "heartbroken'' about the McCarron injury and if it is a long-term issue, Atlanta will be searching for another QB.
Feleipe Franks replaced McCarron and looked good running the ball at times as he did last week, but he also took four sacks, including one for a safety. The two Falcons quarterbacks combined for just 66 passing yards on 14 attempts.
Franks led the Falcons inside the Dolphins' 5-yard line twice, but on the first goal line possession, the Falcons did not score on fourth-and-goal. Finally, with 10:22 remaining in the game, running back D'Onta Foreman scored from the 1-yard line on another fourth-and-goal try.
Falcons 3, Dolphins 0 12:14 1st Quarter
The Falcons offense started well under McCarron, picking up a pair of first downs on the first three plays. McCarron completed his best pass of the night on a slant route to Christian Blake for a 16-yard gain.
That play brought the Falcons into Miami territory thanks in part to a 28-yard kickoff return from Avery Williams. But McCarron threw two incomplete passes, including a bad miss on his first third-down attempt.
Younghoe Koo was accurate from 53 yards to get the Falcons on the board.
Dolphins 7 Falcons 3, 5:45 1st Quarter
Miami drove 75 yards on 11 plays, converting its only third-down attempt on the way to the end zone. On third-and-9 at the Falcons 29-yard line, the Falcons hit running back Myles Gaskin in the flat but were unable to make the tackle, Gaskin ran 12 yards for the first down.
Gaskins had seven touches for 57 yards and scored the touchdown on the drive. Jonathan Bullard recorded a sack on the possession to force the long third down.
Dolphins 14 Falcons 3, 12:34 2nd Quarter
Miami continued to feature Gaskins, who finished the night with 71 yards on 10 touches. He also scored the Dolphins' second touchdown -- this time an 8-yard catch on second-and-goal.
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Dolphins 21 Falcons 3, 8:52 3rd Quarter
The Dolphins missed a field goal to end the first half, but with Jacoby Brissett replacing Tagovailoa, the Dolphins marched 65 yards in 10 plays to score their third touchdown. Malcolm Brown pounded into the end zone from the 1-yard line.
Dolphins 23 Falcons 3, 7:15 3rd Quarter
The night really began to get ugly for the Falcons at this point in the game. After Javian Hawkins ran for only one yard on first down, Franks took a pair of sacks for a loss of 13 yards. Franks went down in the end zone on the second sack.
Both sacks came at the hands of linebacker Sam Eguaveon, who Miami just removed from the COVID-19 list this week. Eguaveon finished the game with four sacks.
Dolphins 30 Falcons 3, 1:39 3rd Quarter
On the ensuing possession, the Dolphins put together another long drive with Brissett behind center. On the 10th play of the drive, Brissett found Robert Foster for an 8-yard touchdown in the corner of the end zone.
Brissett's throw was a beautiful fade to the back corner of the end zone. Defensive back Delrick Abrams had the coverage on the play, but he did not manage to turn around before the ball hit Foster's hands.
Dolphins 30 Falcons 10, 10:22 4th Quarter
The Falcons finally found the end zone on fourth and goal with Foreman running in from the 1-yard line. Foreman led the way with nine touches on the drive.
Dolphins 37 Falcons 10, 7:10 4th Quarter
After a Franks interception that set up the Dolphins at the Atlanta 6-yard line, Miami scored two plays later. Third-string quarterback Reid Sinnett completed a 2-yard pass to Kirk Merritt for the touchdown.
Dolphins 37 Falcons 17, 4:46 4th Quarter
Hawkins ran the ball four times to begin the drive, but Caleb Huntley broke free for a 30-yard run to score the Falcons' second touchdown. Hawkins also had a 30-yard run on the snap prior to Huntley's touchdown.
The Falcons will end the preseason next Sunday night at home against the Cleveland Browns.