Dress rehearsal? More like a dressing down.
On a night that was supposed to get out all the kinks, the Dolphins produced a third consecutive stinker.
The final score — Falcons 23, Dolphins 6, in front of a paid crowd of 41,550 — somehow belied the true result.
Which was this: No matter how prepared Ryan Tannehill is to start, he’s got little chance to succeed if his supporting cast plays like this.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Through three exhibition games, the first-team offense has produced more turnovers (2) than touchdowns (1). Miami’s starters have scored just 10 points in roughly five quarters.
And while the defense played better Friday than it had the previous two weeks, Kevin Coyle’s group will be out of gas by Halloween if the offense doesn’t keep it off the field. The Falcons controlled the ball for 37 of the game’s 60 minutes Friday.
Tannehill, named the opening-day starter Monday after winning the training-camp competition, had statistically his worst game of the preseason. He completed just 11 of 27 passes for 112 yards, no touchdowns and his first interception as a pro (albeit in exhibition play).
But each of those statistics was deceptive — and not to Tannehill’s benefit.
His receivers had at least four drops, wrecking his completion percentage and killing promising drives.
Anthony Fasano, supposedly Tannehill’s security blanket at tight end, was responsible for three of those miscues, including a potential touchdown.
And even the pick wasn’t completely Tannehill’s fault.
On third-and-long in the first quarter, he targeted Davone Bess (the passing game’s lone bright spot), only to have the pass tipped by Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. Atlanta cornerback Thomas DeCoud made a play on the redirected pass and cradled the ball before it hit the ground.
At the half, the Dolphins had 166 yards of offense, 11 first downs — and just three points.
Most every aspect of the Dolphins’ game that was an issue going in remained a concern coming out.
The tight ends and receivers struggled.
The right side of the offensive line was completely overmatched at times (specifically Jonathan Martin, who got blown up on consecutive plays in the first half).
And the Dolphins again struggled to defend the deep pass even when they had double coverage.
In a play virtually identical to the one that Tampa burned Miami with two weeks ago, Julio Jones somehow got open on both Reshad Jones and Richard Marshall to reel in a high-arching, 49-yard bomb.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan finished the night 18 of 26 for 220 yards and a score.
That’s not to say there weren’t a few silver linings on a soggy night.
When the Dolphins commit to the run, they’re pretty good at it. Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas combined for 46 yards on 11 carries.
“We did show some signs of being able to run the ball effectively,” coach Joe Philbin said at the half.
The starting defense also held up pretty well despite being on the field for most of the game’s first two quarters.
The unit did allow 175 yards but tightened when it counted, surrendering just three first-half field goals.
Plus, with Cameron Wake returning from a back injury, the front seven actually generated a pass rush, sacking Ryan twice in the first half.
And Dan Carpenter is still really good, booming through field goals of 51 and 22 yards.
But that was about it.
As for Matt Moore, who lost out on the starting quarterback job?
He did little to show his coaches had made a mistake.
Moore completed 4 of 12 passes for 49 yards and showed poor ball security while scrambling in the third quarter, resulting in a lost strip-sack.
Pat Devlin, meanwhile, will have to wait until Wednesday’s preseason finale in Dallas to prove he belongs as the No. 3 quarterback.
He didn’t play Friday.