Miami quarterback David Fales threw two touchdown passes, including a 99-yard hookup with Damore'ea Stringfellow in the fourth quarter, rallying the Dolphins past the Atlanta Falcons 23-20 on Thursday in the preseason opener for a pair of playoff teams from last season at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Fla.
Both teams have questions to answer in the preseason. The Falcons are trying to shake off a devastating Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots. Atlanta squandered a 28-3 lead in the loss, but the first-team offense certainly didn't show any signs of a Super Bowl hangover on Thursday.
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan, the reigning NFL MVP, led the Falcons on a five-play scoring drive on their opening possession. He completed all three of his passes on the drive, including a 15-yard touchdown to running back Devonta Freeman. The scoring drive was the first for the Falcons under new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.
The Dolphins are trying to land a starting quarterback, after Ryan Tannehill suffered a left knee injury last week in practice that could cost him the entire season. Veteran Matt Moore started for the Dolphins and completed his only pass attempt. Moore will be battling veteran quarterback Jay Cutler for the starting job. Cutler came out of retirement earlier this week and signed with Miami. He did not play Thursday.
Rookie quarterback Brandon Doughty threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Leonte Carroo that put Miami ahead 10-7 early in the second quarter.
Atlanta running back Terron Ward answered on the ensuing drive, ripping off a 26-yard run and then scoring from three yards out to give the Falcons a 14-10 lead at halftime. Ward finished with 48 yards on 11 carries.
With Miami leading 23-20 in the fourth quarter, Atlanta defensive back Jarnor Jones made a one-handed interception at the Falcons' 3-yard line to thwart a Dolphins' scoring opportunity and give rookie quarterback Alek Torgersen a chance to lead a potential go-ahead scoring drive. But the Dolphins defense forced a punt, and the offense ran out the clock to seal the win.
Fales finished 8 of 17 for 184 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception.