ATLANTA - The Dolphins staged their stunning second-half rally to beat the Falcons on Sunday without center Mike Pouncey, who left for good at halftime with a concussion.
Jake Brendel, who had appeared in five previous NFL games, took over at center, blocked effectively and made all the line calls.
Because Pouncey takes one day off a week from practice to rest his surgically-repaired hip, “we get a lot of [practice] reps with him in there,” quarterback Jay Cutler said of Brendel. “He didn't flinch. He came in and did a great job.”
Brendel said “I was a little rusty but got the rust off. I’ve been waiting for this shot.”
AFTER WHISTLE ANTICS
Dolphins linemen were irritated by what they viewed as somewhat dirty play by Atlanta.
“They hit us after the play and were talking,” left guard Anthony Steen said, noting a Falcons player shoved him after one play. “If they want to play like that, so be it.”
• Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi, who entered averaging only 3.4 yards per carry, had his best game of the season, with 130 yards on 5.0 per carry. It was Ajayi’s sixth 100-yard game of his career and second of the season.
“My mindset was to be downhill and physical,” he said. “We thought we had an opportunity to get things done. Huge win. These are games that can propel you on a run.”
Ajayi said he made an effort to not “let our emotions take us out of the game” after he and Jarvis Landry spoke with coach Adam Gase about that last week.
• Receiver DeVante Parker was inactive because of a sprained ankle sustained early in the Tennessee game last Sunday.
Leonte Carroo started in his place and was targeted three times but didn’t have a catch.
Also inactive for the Dolphins: cornerback Byron Maxwell, rookie defensive backs Maurice Smith and Tory McTyer, linebacker Stephone Anthony and offensive linemen Sam Young and Isaac Asiata.
THIS AND THAT
• Miami’s 17-point comeback was the team’s largest since a 21-point comeback against Buffalo on Dec. 4, 2005.
Also, it was Miami’s largest comeback on the road since an 18-point comeback at the New York Jets on Nov. 27, 1994, also known as the “Fake Spike” game.
• This marks the 12th win in Miami’s past 16 regular season games, the team’s best 16-game stretch since winning 13 of 17 from October 2001 through October 2002.
Miami has now won three of its first five games of the season for the first time since 2013, when they also began 3-2.
• Atlanta’s 339 yards were its fewest in 10 games. Also, the Falcons were held scoreless in a half for the first time in 23 games.
• This marked the first time that Dolphins kicker Cody Parkey hit a game-tying and game-winning field goal in the fourth quarter of the same game. He’s 7 for 7 on field goals this season.
• Cutler, who had a 104.5 passer rating after halftime, targeted Landry 14 times – nine times more than any other player. Tight end Julius Thomas, who started with Anthony Fasano in a two tight end set, was targeted five times and had three catches for 22 yards.
• Lawrence Timmons led Miami with eight tackles, and Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake had Miami’s sacks.
Atlanta’s Davonta Freeman had a 44-yard run but aside from that, Miami allowed only only 56 yards on Atlanta’s 18 other carries.
• For the Falcons, this won’t sting as much as blowing a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl against New England, but this game continued Atlanta’s penchant for squandering second-half cushions.
“When you’re playing in this league against good defenses and good teams like this, you have to come away with points [when you’re in opposing territory],” quarterback Matt Ryan said. “Just a pretty inconsistent game for us.”
• Former Dolphins offensive line coach Chris Foerster has checked himself into a South Florida clinic to deal with his problems, a league source confirmed.
Foerster resigned on Monday after a video surfaced in which he sniffed a white substance off his desk. The Las Vegas woman who received the video said she was dating Foerster and that the substance in the video was cocaine.