FALCONS 16 DOLPHINS 10
By CHARLES ODUM
ATLANTA — Atlanta’s Matt Ryan and Miami’s Ryan Tannehill showed how starting quarterbacks should handle preseason openers.
Each had only one possession. Each completed every pass attempt on long touchdown drives. Each then turned the game over to backups who never found the end zone.
After the strong opening drive by Ryan, Sean Renfree led two field-goal drives in the second half and the Falcons held off the Dolphins 16-10 on Friday night in the preseason opener for both teams.
Rookie quarterback Seth Lobato led Miami to the Atlanta 5-yard line with less than 3 minutes remaining before fumbling a shotgun snap. Defensive end Nosa Eguae recovered for Atlanta.
Matt Bryant closed the first half with a 21-yard field goal and Sergio Castillo added field goals of 21 and 34 yards in the second half for Atlanta.
Tannehill was 6-for-6 for 62 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Gibson, to open the game.
Ryan was just as strong, completing each of his seven attempts for 53 yards on Atlanta’s opening drive. Jacquizz Rodgers capped the drive with a 2-yard scoring run. Rodgers started as Steven Jackson is recovering from a left hamstring injury.
Ryan completed passes of 17 yards to Harry Douglas and 5 and 12 yards to Roddy White on the drive.
“We were able to run the ball pretty effectively, and when we did have the opportunity to throw, we were able to move the chains,” Ryan said. “We were able to overcome a couple of penalties, we were able to keep going, and punch the ball into the end zone. It’s exactly what you want for your first drive of the year.”
Jones said connecting with White was “like riding a bike with him.”
“We’ve done this together for a long time,” Ryan said. “Roddy just has a knack for getting up and making plays.”
T.J. Yates, the favorite to win the job as Ryan’s top backup, looked poised in Atlanta’s two-minute offense to set up Bryant’s field goal. Yates completed 7 of 16 passes for 123 yards.
Yates is competing with Renfree, who led field-goal drives in the third and fourth quarters. Renfree, a second-year player from Duke, completed 6 of 15 passes for 108 yards.
Falcons rookie running back Devonta Freeman had 10 carries for 50 yards and one catch for 57 yards. Another rookie, Bernard Reedy, caught two passes for 61 yards.
Seth Lobato, an undrafted rookie from Northern Colorado, replaced Tannehill and completed 14 of 28 passes for 124 yards.
Lobato was next in line because quarterbacks Matt Moore (shoulder) and Pat Devlin (hamstring) were held out with injuries.
Miami rookie running back Damien Williams was carted off the field with an undisclosed injury late in the game. Williams was hurt on a run from the Atlanta 5-yard line.
Dolphins safety Reshad Jones, who on Friday was suspended for the first four games of the regular season for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances, played with the other defensive starters.