For about a quarter and a half, the Atlanta Falcons first team on both offense and defense looked good. The Falcons were able to move the ball effectively, and the defense was able to generate a bit of a pass rush and limit running back Chris Johnson from being effective.
While the Falcons offense looked good, the first team offense was never able to score a touchdown. Instead, they settled for two field goals after their first two drives stalled in the red zone.
Tony Gonzalez also saw his first action this preseason and looked just like his old self. You would never know he hadn't been in training camp, or that he was 37. He caught 2 passes from Ryan for 21 yards.
Then in the middle of the second quarter, the Titans made some adjustments and were able to really shut down the Falcons offensively the rest of the half. Matt Ryan was sacked five times overall, as the offensive line easily played its worst game of the year in terms of pass protection.
The Titans offense begin to roll, as Titans QB Jake Locker figured out the pass coverage and RB Chris Johnson bore his way through the Falcons run defense.
Jake Locker finished 11/13 for 133 yards, 1 TD and a 134.9 passer rating, while Chris Johnson had 11 carries for 65 yards, while averaging 5.9 yards per carry.
This combination put up 13 unanswered points for the Titans, and the Falcons had no real answer for them in the second quarter. The Titans used the run almost exclusively early which led to more opportunities for Locker to set up the pass. This strategy was effective, and the Titans led the game at the half by a count of 13-6.
Steven Jackson looked good again when he got his chances. The new starting RB had 12 carries for 51 yards, averaging 4.3 yards per carry. He also had three catches for 15 yards to cap off a nice night for the veteran.
Julio Jones carved up the Titans defense in the first half with a team high four receptions for 81 yards. Jones did have a couple drops that you normally don't see from him, but he was still very impressive. Jones looks primed for another huge season.
Matt Ryan finished 11/19 for 138 yards with an 80.6 passer rating. He did have a couple of overthrows and miscues, but his offensive line really let him down tonight with their poor pass protection.
Asante Samuel left the game in the first quarter with a thigh injury and did not return. The severity of the injury is not known at this time. He was able to walk to the locker room under his own power.
The Titans would extend their lead in the third quarter to 20-6 with another touchdown as the back ups entered the game on both sides.
The Falcons would answer with another field goal by rookie Jeremy Shelley, who has quietly put up a solid preseason. He was 3/4 for this game with field goals made from 27, 31 and 32 yards. He missed an attempt from 46 yards.
This cut the deficit to 20-9 as Dominique Davis would then orchestrate a drive to score the Falcons lone touchdown of the game. It was a nice 41 yard pass to Darius Johnson, a WR hopeful trying to make the team. Johnson broke a tackle and outmaneuvered multiple defenders on his way to the end zone, making it a 20-16 deficit.
The Titans would add one more touchdown by back up QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to make the lead 27-16, and the Falcons could not answer.
Davis had a decent game, going 7/14 for 105 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT.
Defensively the Falcons were led by starting DE Kroy Biermann. Biermann had a game high seven total tackles with two sacks and three tackles for loss. This was easily his best game of the preseason and hopefully a sign of good things to come as we get closer to the regular season.
CB Robert Alford had some trouble tonight getting beaten on a few passing plays, but he also had some good fortune as well. He had six tackles, three passes defended and his first NFL interception. Over the preseason it would appear that statistically speaking, he's outplayed his counterpart, fellow rookie CB Desmond Trufant. Trufant had a solid game with four tackles, but couldn't get his hands on the ball as Trufant was able to.
Joplo Bartu who started in the place of injured OLB Stephen Nicholas, made a statement tonight by recording four tackles and making some nice stops on starting Tennessee RB Chris Johnson.
Sean Weatherspoon returned for the first time since dislocating his finger and had a solid game. He had three total tackles in his return.
The Falcons have some work to do heading into the final game of the preseason. Giving up six sacks (five on Matt Ryan) is unacceptable as the entire offensive line is to blame for this folly.
The Falcons also need to tighten up their pass and run defense as after the first quarter, they were not able to make the adjustments necessary to contain Locker or Johnson.
The Falcons wrap up the preseason here in Atlanta against the Jacksonville Jaguars next week.
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