Atlanta Falcons fall to Cincinnati Bengals in both teams' preseason opener

Cincinnati 34, Atlanta 10

ATLANTA — Giovani Bernard scored in his opening bid for a share of the Bengals’ carries, while Steven Jackson was provided little running room by the Falcons’ depleted offensive line as Cincinnati rolled to a 34-10 preseason win over Atlanta on Thursday night.

 

Josh Johnson, who directed two second-quarter touchdown drives, made big plays as a passer and runner as he opened the competition for the Bengals’ backup QB job.

Bernard played behind returning starter Benjarvus Green-Ellis and had 10 carries for 28 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown run. He added three catches for 16 yards.

Johnson, going against John Skelton for the backup job behind Andy Dalton, passed for 100 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown to Brandon Tate, and ran for 64 yards.

Dane Sanzenbacher had a 71-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 36-yard scoring catch from Skelton.

The first preseason game highlighted the Falcons’ concerns about their rebuilt offensive line. Jackson found little blocking as he had five carries for only 8 yards.

Atlanta lost projected starting right tackle Mike Johnson, likely for the season, when he dislocated his left ankle and broke his left leg in Tuesday’s practice.

Lamar Holmes, a second-year player who appeared in only one game in 2012, moved up as the starting right tackle.

The Falcons had a fast start. Matt Ryan was 3 for 3 for 52 yards on Atlanta’s opening drive, his first with Jackson at running back.

Harry Douglas turned a screen pass from Ryan into a 42-yard gain, but the drive stalled. Ryan completed 6 of 9 passes for 89 yards.

Dalton played only two possessions and went 3 of 7 for 36 yards.

Dominique Davis, mostly ineffective after replacing Ryan in the first half, led a third-quarter touchdown drive capped by his 8-yard pass to Jason Snelling. Davis hit 8 of 19 for 78 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Skelton took over for Johnson late in the third quarter and led a 78-yard touchdown drive finished off with his 36-yard scoring pass to Sanzenbacher, a third-year player who had only one catch in 2012.

PETITION DRIVE CALLED OFF

ATLANTA — The organizer of a petition that sought to block public financing for a new Atlanta Falcons stadium says the effort has failed to gather enough signatures.

William Perry, of Common Cause Georgia, said Thursday the group knew it was a long shot to gather 35,000 signatures in 60 days to qualify for the November ballot, but it was worth the effort.

Perry says the effort failed because of a lack of time and resources, and not from a lack of people.

– Associated Press

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