In April, Miami Dolphins fans throughout the country groaned in response to the team’s 2009 schedule, which opens with a trip to Atlanta, a home game against the Colts, and then a visit to the Chargers.
The first leg of that trifecta has resulted in a defeat for the Dolphins; the Falcons won the opener on Sunday at the Georgia Dome, 19-7.
The game featured limited work from rookie quarterback Pat White, the second-round pick from West Virginia who presumably was drafted to lead the Wildcat offense.
White threw one pass that fell incomplete and carried the ball once, for no gain. (Running back Ronnie Brown also took at least one snap as the Wildcat quarterback.)
The game was closer than the final score would suggest, with the Falcons outgaining the Dolphins only by 22 yards, 281 to 259. But the Dolphins coughed the ball up
three four times (once on a Chad Pennington pick, once on a Pennington fumble, and twice via Anthony Fasano fumbles) to none from the Falcons.
For the Falcons, Matt Ryan completed 22 of 36 passes for 229 yards and two touchdowns — one to tight end Tony Gonzalez and the other to fullback Ovie Mughelli.
Running back Michael Turner, touted by Ryan in the preseason as an MVP candidate, gained only 65 yards on 22 carries, for a worse-than-Reggie Bush average of 2.95 yards per carry.
So it’s way too early for the Dolphins to give up, and too early for the Falcons to make reservations for Miami in February.