The Falcons took on the Steelers in week two of the preseason yesterday, in what was a snoozer of a ball game. After forcing the Steelers to go three and out on their opening possession, Matt Ryan and the first team offense (without Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman) took the field for their first and only drive.
But just like last week, the league’s reigning top offense made it count, marching down the field with ease for a 10-play, 91 yard touchdown drive. Matt Ryan was pretty much flawless on the drive completing 4 of his 6 passes for 57 yards, including a couple accurate throws while on the run. It may just be preseason, and the Falcons may have a new offensive coordinator, but this first team offense looks to be in midseason form already.
After that, there was not much worth watching in this one. The Falcons once again forced the Steelers to go three and out on their next drive, and then Matt Simms led Atlanta down the field for a field goal. Atlanta headed into the locker room with a 10-6 lead.
The second half belonged to the Pittsburgh reserves. In particular, James Connor, who carried the ball 20 times for 98 yards in the game. It was a tough day for Atlanta’s punt team that gave up a return for a touchdown in the second half among other miscues. One reserve worth watching for the good guys was former Georgia standout Reggie Davis. The speedy wide receiver led the team in receiving with 3 catches for 73 yards.
When the final whistle blew, the Falcons fell 17-13, but no reason to worry here, it is just preseason. The starters for this Atlanta team look as fast, physical and focused as ever and will be ready to crush the Bears come week one of the regular season.
The Braves spanked the Reds last night to avoid a three-game sweep, while southpaw Sean Newcomb pitched a five-inning gem. Tyler Flowers hit a grand slam, and four Braves hitters had multi-hit games. Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies continued to make big impressions on the Braves future with three extra-base hits between the two of them in an 8-1 victory.
Sean Newcomb had too many walks (5), which led to an earlier exit than he had hoped for. He pitched five innings and didn’t give up any runs, only allowing five hits. But, the Braves showed Luis Castillo the door as well, after scoring two runs on four hits, forcing him out after four innings. After Castillo, the Braves jumped on 30 year-old veteran, Drew Storen. Storen pitched only 2/3 of an inning, allowing six runs on six hits and two walks. Fortunately for the Braves, their bullpen finally pitched well, for a total of four innings. Matt Wisler pitched three shutout innings, while Max Fried took over and got through the final inning allowing the only Reds run.
Nick Markakis tallied his 30th double of the season to get the Braves on the board in the third inning, which scored two runs. In the fifth, Brandon Phillips hit a lead-off single, followed by a Freddie Freeman double to put runners on second and third. After walking Markakis intentionally to load the bases with nobody out, Tyler Flowers hit his eleventh homer of the season to put the lead at 6-0. A few batters later, Dansby Swanson knocked in a run with a single to left field, after an Ozzie Albies triple. Brandon Phillips followed that up with another RBI single, to cap off a six-run fifth. The Reds were never able to put a run across until the ninth inning on a Phillip Ervin RBI.
The Reds had a combined total of eight hits, but no batter had more than one. The Braves were the total opposite with twelve hits, with all twelve coming from five different players. Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson went 4-7 with three extra-base hits between the two of them. Freddie Freeman and Brandon Phillips both had big days. Both went 3-5 and scored half of the teams runs. The other two hits came from Tyler Flowers and Nick Markakis, with six RBI’s combined.
The Braves stay at home and invite the Mariners to town for a three-game set. Mike Foltynewicz will pitch the first game and Andrew Albers will make his second start as a Mariner. Albers was just traded a week ago from Atlanta to Seattle and will now make a start against the home team. Hopefully the Braves offense can set him straight, after Albers had a terrific first start.