Quarter-by-Quarter | By sportswriter David J. Neal

Miami Dolphins vs. Atlanta Falcons: Quarter by quarter



First quarter

Second quarter

Third quarter

Fourth quarter

First quarter

•  Impact player: Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan wasn’t dynamic, but productive and near perfect: He finished the quarter 11 for 13 for 87 yards and a touchdown.

•  Highlights: Ryan Tannehill somehow came up with his own fumble, which seemed to disappear under an Atlanta defensive lineman at the Dolphins 23.

•  Lowlights: The Dolphins had 3 yards of offense in the quarter and allowed a sack on their one possession. And Atlanta just walked down the field with the opening kickoff, converting two third downs on an 80-yard push to the end zone, then were doing the same as the quarter ended.

Second quarter

•  Impact player: Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill got big help on the Dolphins’ first scoring drive, but the 60-yard drive to a half-ending field goal was quality: 5-of-6 passing, scrambling for 8 yards.

•  Highlights: Responding to Atlanta taking a 10-0 lead with a touchdown drive ignited by two very good runs: Lamar Miller’s 49-yard sprint up the middle and Daniel Thomas’ punishing 5-yard score. Dion Jordan stopping Jason Snelling for no gain on third-and-1 at the Dolphins 2.

•  Lowlights: Falcons running backs Jacquizz Rodgers’ shiftiness and Snelling’s power too often embarrassed Dolphins would-be tacklers and the defense got stuck in reverse until the red zone.

Third quarter

•  Impact player: Tannehill again. In addition to going 8 of 13 for 88 yards and a touchdown, he threw an interception ( Charles Clay probably should’ve caught it) and fumbled to set up Atlanta’s touchdown.

•  Highlights: Don Jones body-slammed Atlanta punt returner Harry Douglas, causing a fumble that long snapper John Denney recovered. Three plays later, Tannehill’s 18-yard throw to a wide open Brian Hartline tied the score at 20. Sturgis nailed a 50-yard field goal to let the Dolphins cut into the Falcons’ 20-10 lead earlier in the quarter.

•  Lowlights: Tannehill fumbled again, this time lost it and the Falcons drove 12 yards to a touchdown and 20-10 lead.

Fourth quarter

•  Impact player: With 4:46 left, the ball on the Dolphins 25 and the Dolphins trailing 23-20, Tannehill did what top shelf quarterbacks are supposed to do — lead a drive to a score, preferably a game-winning one.

•  Highlights: Falcons kicker Matt Bryant missing from 35 yards to keep the Dolphins within a field goal. Tannehill coolly using subs Michael Egnew and Rishard Matthews as he got the final drive going, then hitting tight end Charles Clay for 21 yards to get to first-and-goal. The touchdown dying duck to Dion Sims. Jordan pressuring Ryan into the final interception by Jimmy Wilson.

•  Lowlights: Falcons WR Julio Jones started to have some success on Dolphins CB Nolan Carroll. Overall, the tackling remained adequate. Barely.

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