By Jerell Rushin
A botched interception may have cost the Atlanta Falcons a win against the Miami Dolphins Thursday in a preseason game that competed with sessions at the National Association of Black Journalists convention in Miami.
Falcons cornerback Hamp Sheevers dropped a potential interception, which squandered a likely touchdown return late in the fourth quarter. The NFL preseason game ended with Miami winning 34-27.
Miami struck first but trailed going into the second half.
Atlanta quarterback Matt Schaub led three 49-yard-plus drives and four scoring drives. Schaub went 12-of-19 for 172 yards.
Schaub led a 90-yard, 13-play touchdown drive spanning more than half the first quarter.
Atlanta linebacker Jermaine Grace intercepted Miami quarterback Josh Rosen, returning the ball 19 yards to the 3-yard line. Georgio Tavecchio finished the drive with a field goal.
Atlanta’s biggest play set up a touchdown. After catching a screen pass, Kenjon Barner weaved his way 37 yards through Miami defenders and blocks. Brian Hill ran in a 1-yard touchdown, giving Atlanta a 19-10 lead.
Rosen, acquired in a trade with Arizona after just his rookie season, caught fire with undrafted wide receiver Preston Williams.
Williams made a 36-yard one-handed catch on the left sideline during the two-minute warning. The Dolphins ended the drive with a field goal, cutting the Falcons’ lead to six entering the second half.
The duo connected for four catches on five targets for 97 yards.
“I think you’ve got to know what certain guys are good at, and Preston can go get the ball… so you’ve got to give him those opportunities,” Rosen said.
Williams grabbed a jump ball over a defender for a 27-yard catch. Two plays later, Mark Walton gave a Miami a 20-19 lead with a 2-yard rushing touchdown.
“We tell him to block in the run game, he blocks in the run game; play more downhill on your end cuts, he does that,” first-year Miami head coach Brian Flores said. “He works hard after practice. He works hard in meetings, and it showed up tonight.”
Four drives later, the Dolphins took a 27-19 lead when Jake Russock threw Myles Gaskin a 6-yard touchdown.
Quadree Ollison ended Atlanta’s scoring drought with a 16-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Matt Simms found C.J. Worton for the 2-point conversion, tying the game.
On the next drive, Sheevers had a clear route down the sideline to an interception return but dropped the ball. Miami punted, and Atlanta turned the ball over on downs after Simms was sacked.
Gaskin broke the gridlock on a 6-yard touchdown run for the Miami win. Atlanta drove to Miami territory but the comeback attempt failed.