By: Brandon Liguori
The Miami Dolphins’ lone preseason game Saturday night at Hard Rock Stadium vs. the Atlanta Falcons was one to remember. Okay, wait, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here. Well, first let me tell you what I saw in Saturday’s 37-17 victory: Tua Tagovailoa looked good and I mean really, really good.
The second-year quarterback, who played the entire first half (four total drives), led touchdown drives on Miami’s first two offensive possessions. Brian Flores’ group trailed early, 3-0, but the Falcons’ lead quickly diminished.
Tagovailoa led an 11-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a Myles Gaskin one-yard scamper and an 11-play, 66-yard drive, a drive that finished with Gaskin scoring his second touchdown of the half.
Rookie receiver Jaylen Waddle, prior to Miami’s first scoring drive, appeared to have hurt his leg while making a block during Gaskin’s 16-yard run to set up the Dolphins 1st-and-goal at the Atlanta 1. Waddle, who took a bit of time before getting up under his own power and walking to the sidelines into the blue medical tent, was targeted four times and caught three passes for 21 yards.
From where I was sitting Saturday night (Section 102, Row 2), I have to admit that my heart sank a bit because of how long Waddle remained down on the field. All in all, Waddle was okay and the many, many spectators at Hard Rock Stadium were able to breathe a sigh of relief. On the defensive side of the football, Xavien Howard opened playing alongside Byron Jones at the cornerback position.
Now that Howard’s contract talks have been resolved and put to bed, the former Baylor product can now focus on remaining the most important piece of a dangerous defense. Sam Eguavoen, recently taken off the COVID-19 list, paved the way with four sacks and four quarterback hits, too.
The Falcons, who sat Matt Ryan to avoid a devastating injury in an exhibition game, started AJ McCarron, who exited early in the second quarter because of an injury to his right knee.
Feleipe Franks, a University of Florida graduate, replaced McCarron. All of Miami’s three quarterbacks were participants in a touchdown drive. (Tagovailoa, Jacoby Brissett, Reid Sinnett).