Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 8/17/12


The loss of Travelle Wharton with a knee injury last week was evident on some plays, as blitz overloads forced Andy Dalton to run right in order to avoid the hit.

Dalton’s connection for a 50-yard touchdown to A.J. Green caught Asante Samuel napping, as Dalton hit Green in stride after beating the veteran corner by a good two or three steps.

In general, Dalton wasn’t afraid to take chances on a Falcons’ defense that poached 19 passes a season ago, and added a pair of good hands in Samuel. Though 8 for 14, Dalton completed three passes of 20 yards or more, including the touchdown.

Brad Gradkowski’s night as second fiddle is best summed up from a poor decision made late in the second. With Atlanta burning timeouts to try and get the ball back and extend their lead, Gradkowski through an out-pass to Donald Lee headed to the sideline, and his tight end was easily shoved out to stop the clock.


Matt Ryan’s longest pass of his first six completions: a 21 yarder to a wide open Tony Gonzalez. Other than that: 5 for 5 for 15 yards. At least Ryan tried to make plays, as opposed to throwing out of bounds in the face of the rush. None of his passes were all that risky, so there was a safety to his confidence.

Atlanta’s third possession ended with a field goal, but Ryan found greater confidence and a working rhythm, completing three passes for a combined 50 yards to Tony Gonzalez (1 reception, 21 yards) and Roddy White (2 receptions, 29 yards).

The offensive line was of little use to Michael Turner, or the running game in general, but the pass blocking was well synchronized by the second quarter, and Ryan worked himself up to 86 percent completions on ten yards a completion by late in the first half.

After John Parker Wilson demonstrated the mobility of a concrete-shoed mob informant, rookie Dominique Davis culminated a Herculean fourth quarter effort (11/18, 121 yards) with a touchdown to fellow rookie LaMark Brown. Davis’ attempt to complete the comeback fell short, thanks to a number of drops, notably from Jacquizz Rodgers at the end, who couldn’t scoop Davis’ nose-diving pass out of the turf in time.



Brian Leonard had nothing but space in front of him on his opening carry, but holding the ball away from his body caused an easy fumble after William Moore got a punch on it. Leonard had gained seven yards before contact was made. On the first play of their following drive, coach Marvin Lewis showed enough confidence to lead off with another Leonard carry.

Cincinnati’s total running line for the first half: 10 carries, 11 yards.

The longest run of the night goes to Bruce Gradkowski on a 31-yard dart. Beyond that, Leonard’s seven year run was the longest by a running back for Cincinnati on the night. BenJarvus Green-Ellis sat with foot soreness, but the injury isn’t considered too serious. In other words, no need to panic just yet.


Usually one to bust off big gains with his initial burst, Michael Turner struggled going through the middle on the opening drive, including a four-yard loss at the hands of a stand-up stop from Geno Atkins. Turner ran for negative three yards on three carries. Thus far, Mike Cox hasn’t looked like a worthy replacement for Ovie Mughelli.

Atlanta only ran the ball 8 times in the first half, preferring to make use of Cincinnati’s conservative coverage in the flat and on screens. Between Turner, Jacquizz Rodgers, and Ryan himself, they accounted for 26 yards, 16 of which were on one play by Rodgers.



Jermane Gresham broke two tackles and almost a third (a shoestring) on a crucial third down completion, gaining 25 yards while easily breaking a Brent Grimes shoulder move. A possible hyperextension of his right knee ended his great effort on a sour note.

A.J. Green would have had himself a nice 37-yard touchdown catch in double coverage if Dalton hadn’t overshot the end zone by 3 or 4 yards. Green would come back to beat Asante Samuel by two or three steps on a stutter move to haul in a 50-yard touchdown, after struggling in tight coverage with him for most of the night.

In another nice touch, Mohammad Sanu’s touchdown reception should help further wipe away that bitter feeling he experienced after that infamous Draft night crank call. Who’s laughing now?


Michael Turner was uncharacteristically stopped for minimal gains on dump offs and screens by the likes of Domato Peko and Manny Lawson, which either bodes well for Cincy’s defensive consistency, or Turner’s lost some of his trademark oomph.

Roddy White engineered the first potent Falcons drive of the night with 2 catches for 29 yards, including a five yarder on third down to extend the drive. As much as Julio Jones’ athleticism is lauded, I still think White’s the more reliable and keenly instinctive target. Maybe in a year or two, Julio will surpass him, but White’s by no means on death row. Jones proved effective after White set the table, snagging three balls for 41 yards.

Harry Douglas made the catch of the night, snagging a Terrence Newman tip (more on him later) for a low two-handed squeeze that brought the Falcons into the Red Zone with under two minutes to go in the first half. Heads up plays in the two minute drill are the key to a coach’s heart.



Leon Hall made up for a pointless holding penalty with a stifling leg tackle on the much larger Michael Turner to prevent first down. His simple preventive move led to third down and three, where Tony Gonzalez was stopped short. A missed tackle and the drive could have extended infinitely.

After allowing Matt Ryan to complete his first five passes, the Bengals brought a jail break blitz on third and three, with second round pick Devon Still coming clean to force Ryan out of the pocket. Ryan completed the pass, albeit for a seven-yard loss to Jacquizz Rodgers, who got leveled by Reggie Nelson.

Cincinnati gave up the flat, but closed quickly on tackles. Among Ryan’s first six completions, only one was longer than nine yards. Reggie Nelson was most visible preventing those short receptions from turning into something more.

Terrence Newman got flagged for interference on Julio Jones, even though he was easily pushed over like a scarecrow. Looks like Jerry Jones may have made a wise decision. And as soon as I say that, he plows through Jones to prevent a score on a bubble screen. Then he undoes that nice play by giving Roddy White an insane amount of cushion on a screen pass, and then backing away from him as White made his up-field cut. Further damage was done after arriving early for an interference call on a short pass to Drew Davis. All in all, not the vet’s finest hour.

On the contrary, safety Jeromy Miles forced a fumble and made an end zone interception. A backup on the Bengals heading into his third season, Miles could see time over the injury-plagued, mistake-prone Taylor Mays as this preseason progresses.


Peria Jerry renewed the set of downs for Cincinnati with a needless roughing penalty, after wrapping up Andy Dalton and dragging him down long after the throw. William Moore bailed him out a play later with a high-impact forced fumble on Brian Leonard.

Jonathan Babineaux got hosed for a facemask on Dalton that never happened. Please, NFL, let Hochuli, Carey, and the gang have their way?

Dunta Robinson, when not senselessly using his helmet, is still deadly throwing a guided shoulder through an opponent. Andrew Hawkins learned the hard way.

Asante Samuel played good hip pocket defense with AJ Green all night up until the 50-yard touchdown. Samuel bit on Green’s stutter-step, anticipating a short pass, and that enabled Green to completely burn him for easy points.

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