Alford’s punt return TD helps Falcons to win over Dolphins in preseason opener – NBC 6 South Florida


Dee Alford scored on a 79-yard punt return, Breon Borders returned one of Atlanta’s three interceptions for a score and the Falcons defeated the Miami Dolphins 19-3 in the teams’ preseason opener Friday night.

Facing a Dolphins special teams unit that was among the NFL’s worst in 2022, Alford broke multiple tackles for the touchdown with 4:36 left in the game.

On Miami’s next possession, Skylar Thompson was intercepted by Borders on a throw that was too high for Chris Coleman. Borders returned the pick 26 yards for a touchdown. Yunghoo Koo then missed his second extra-point attempt of the game.

Atlanta’s Logan Woodside was 14 of 22 with 146 yards.

Desmond Ridder, the Falcons’ projected starter, didn’t play. Ridder, who as a rookie started Atlanta’s final four games last season, has impressed teammates and coaches with his poise and command in his second training camp as he looks to end the Falcons’ streak of five straight losing seasons.

Ridder was solid during joint practices earlier in the week, tossing several touchdown passes Wednesday.

Thompson and fellow backup Mike White struggled as regular starter Tua Tagovailoa watched from the sideline.

Tagovailoa and most of Miami’s regular starters did not suit up after two competitive practices against Atlanta, the first of which Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel called “average.”

“Really competitive. They’re an NFL team. They’ve got really good guys on that side of the ball,” Tagovailoa said on Friday’s television broadcast. “They made some plays. We made some plays. So, it’s always good to have good back and forth, but there’s a lot of things that were to be corrected.”

White led the Dolphins downfield with a 17-yard pass to Cedrick Wilson Jr. and a 14-yarder to River Cracraft on their opening drive, but was intercepted in the end zone by Falcons rookie safety DeMarcco Hellams on a pass he tried to force in traffic to Tyler Kroft.

Hellams, a seventh-round pick, had a team-high seven tackles and a pass breakup.

White was 9 of 14 with 85 yards in two quarters. He signed a two-year deal with Miami in March and is vying with Thompson for Miami’s backup role.

Thompson, entering his second NFL season, started the second half and went 10 for 16. He was intercepted early in the fourth by Lukas Denis on a pass that was overthrown to receiver Elijah Higgins.

Rookie running back Bijan Robinson, the No. 8 overall pick by Atlanta, didn’t play.

Igwebuike took a handoff from Woodside in the second quarter and ran into the end zone untouched thanks to a couple good blocks from Atlanta’s offensive line. Igwebuike had 13 carries for 70 yards.

Miami’s second-round rookie cornerback Cam Smith had four tackles, a tackle for loss and a pass breakup. He had a key third-down tackle in the red zone in the third quarter, but was examined in the medical tent soon after. He exited the tent and went to the locker room.

De’Von Achane, a third-round rookie, had 10 carries for 25 yards and got reps at kick return.

Thompson led the Dolphins down the field in the fourth for a scoring drive that ended in Jason Sanders’ 49-yard field goal that made it 6-3.

INJURIES

Falcons: Hellams left in the fourth with an apparent injury. He was attended to on the field by trainers after a hit.

Dolphins: WR Braxton Berrios left in the second quarter after taking a big hit on a punt return. He went to the Dolphins’ locker room and later returned to the sideline.

UP NEXT

Falcons: Host Cincinnati on Aug. 18.

Dolphins: At Houston on Aug 19.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl



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