Atlanta Falcons’ Harry Douglas breaks away from the Bengals’ Adam Jones for a big run in the first half of Thursday’s preseason game at the Georgia Dome. (Staff Photo: Jason Braverman)
ATLANTA — The Falcons made sure that Steven Jackson — their key addition on offense — got plenty of early touches in the preseason opener Thursday night against Cincinnati at the George Dome.
Unfortunately, Jackson looked more like the departed Michael Turner than Falcons fans would have hoped.
Jackson, who went over 1,000 yards rushing in eight straight seasons with St. Louis, had just eight yards on five carries and was held without a gain on his only reception while playing the first two series against the Bengals.
Jackson bounced outside for 4 yards on the first carry of the game, giving hope that good things were ahead in his debut.
But he was thrown for a loss on third down as the offensive line failed to open a hole, blunting the Falcons’ opening drive and forcing them to settle for a field goal.
Matt Ryan, though, sees better days ahead once the regular season arrives.
“I’m excited about what he’s going to bring,” the quarterback said.
The Falcons, thankful it was preseason, looked nothing like a Super Bowl contender against the Bengals, though, in a lackluster 34-10 loss.
Osi Umenyiora — the Falcons big defensive signing — played three series and didn’t generate a pass rush. But backup Jonathan Massaquoi, a Central Gwinnett graduate, got a second-quarter sack soon after replacing Umenyiora at right end.
Ryan played the first three series for the Falcons and was 6-for-9 for 89 yards and a quarterback rating of 98.8.
“We executed fairly well, especially on that first drive,” Ryan said of the first-team offense. “Any time you start with points, that’s a good thing.”
Ryan was 3-for-3 for 62 yards on the first possession of the game, the big gainer a 42-yarder by Harry Douglas on a short pass. But Jackson was stopped for a 3-yard loss back to the 19 on third down and Matt Bryant kicked a 37-yard field goal.
The first-team Falcons defense held the Bengals to 52 yards in three first-quarter possessions as first-round draft pick Desmond Trufant got in on three tackles from his cornerback spot.
“We came out firing off,” defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux said. “Trufant got his whistle wet early, which is good. He needs the experience going into the season. We’re definitely going to need him.”
Massaquoi’s sack early in the second quarter held the Bengals to a 43-yard field goal by Mike Nugent after a 32-yard scramble by backup quarterback Josh Johnson. But Cincinnati, taking advantage of a pass interference call against Falcons reserve cornerback Robert McClain, made it 10-3 on a 21-yard TD pass from Johnson to Brandon Tate midway in the period.
Then Cincinnati made it 17-3 at halftime after Falcons backup quarterback Dominique Davis was intercepted at midfield on an ill-advised jump pass. Rookie Giovani Bernard from North Carolina scored from a yard out on the final play of the second quarter.
Jason Snelling had an 8-yard TD pass from Davis to start the second-half. But Quinn Sharp kicked a 47-yard field goal and Dane Sanzenbacher sprinted away for a TD on a 71-yard punt return as the Bengals went up 27-10 in the third quarter.
Then Cincinnati scored again early in the fourth as Sanzenbacher caught a 36-yard pass from John Skelton, the third Bengals quarterback.
The Falcons’ reserve defense struggled, but undrafted rookie backup linebacker Paul Worrilow was a bright spot. The four-year starter in college at Delaware was credited with 10 tackles.