Falcons lose preseason finale


The Falcons preseason came to an end on Thursday night when they fell to the Jacksonville Jaguars 20-16 at the Georgia Dome. Atlanta finishes the preseason at 0-4, but the goal was not to win the preseason NFC South title.

“Our No. 1 goal in the preseason, behind winning, is to make sure we get an opportunity to evaluate these guys,” Falcons head coach Mike Smith said. “It’s a long season and everyone has to contribute.”

It looked like the Falcons were going to get on the board first as Robert Alford intercepted a Chad Henne pass on Jacksonville’s first offensive series. That put the Falcons offense on the Jaguars 29-yard line, but could not covert the turnover to points because Jeremy Shelley missed a 48-yard field goal.

Jacksonville made up for their early mistake later in the first quarter when Jordan Todman scored on an 18-yard run. The Jaguars added three more points to their lead early in the second quarter when Josh Scobee kicked a 29-yard field goal.

The Falcons’ offense could not get anything going throughout the entire half. So the defense had to get the job done for them. With less than two minutes left in the first half, Jonathan Massaquoi sacked Jaguars quarterback Matt Scott, forced the fumble, recovered the fumble and scored from eight yards out.

“It was good to see Jonathan get some significant playing time,” Smith said. “It was a very nice play.”

On the ensuing series for Jacksonville, Scott committed another turnover as he threw a pick to Desmond Trufant and that led to a 42-yard field goal by Shelley to cut the Jaguars lead to one going into halftime.

The Jaguars increased their one-point lead to four when Scobee kicked a 32-yard field goal early in the third quarter. However, the Falcons took the lead later in the third when running back Josh Vaughan scored from 65-yard out.

Jacksonville got the lead back at the start of the fourth quarter when Mike Kafka threw a 13-yard pass to Jeremy Elbert.

Davis, who left the game in the third quarter but came back because of an injury to third string quarterback Sean Renfree, had two chances to give the Falcons the lead and possibly the win.

When the Falcons had possession with 5:32 left in the fourth, Davis got the Falcons to the Jaguars 2-yard line. But when he tried to run it in on fourth-and goal, Davis was stopped behind the line of scrimmage.

The Falcons did get the ball back with 1:24 left but Davis threw three straight incomplete passes and the Falcons turned the ball over on downs.

“Everything is a learning experience,” Davis said, who went 18-of-35 for 175 yards and one interception. “Preseason is just getting back into it and getting ready for the regular season.”

As Smith mentioned, he and his coaching staff wanted to evaluate as many players as they could which is why 20 starters did not play in the game on Thursday. Smith was pleased with the way Alford and Trufant played against Jacksonville, but he also feels this year’s draft class will be one of the keys to the Falcons success this season.

“I’ve been very impressed with this group,” Smith said. “They’ve worked hard and there’s going to be a lot of guys that will help us win this year.”

The next move for the Falcons is the coaches have the cut the roster down to 53 players. Once they get that set, they can form the practice squad. After that, the regular season begins with the New Orleans Saints next Sunday.

And when Alford was asked if he was ready for the season, he had two words for the media.

“Yes sir,” he said. “We believe in the coaches, and the things that they show us. We’ve been working every day to get better and better.”

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