Falcons' offense sputters in rout by Patriots

The New England Patriots' starters set the tone early Thursday night, and their reserves finished off the Falcons in a 28-10 victory at the Georgia Dome.

The game began with the Falcons on offense, and they turned in a promising drive, mixing in some Matt Ryan passes to tight ends Tony Gonzalez and Justin Peelle with some runs by Michael Turner.

That drive stalled on New England's 28, and Matt Bryant, who was declared the winner in the kicking competition after Steven Hauschka was released Sunday, made a 46-yard field goal.

Overall, the Falcons' offense moved the ball and even attacked from the no-huddle, but couldn't find the end zone. The starters were outscored 14-3, before giving way to a massive wave of reserves.

The first-team defense, with rookie Sean Weatherspoon starting at strongside linebacker for Stephen Nicholas, had a few chances to get off the field. They were in position to get three stops against quarterback Tom Brady, but a missed tackle and a shaky call contributed to the two touchdowns.

On their opening drive, the Patriots were 3-of-3 in third-down situations. Then Fred Taylor broke free for a 28-yard touchdown run.

On his touchdown run, Taylor broke through the line of scrimmage and was met by safety Thomas DeCoud. But defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux was trying to scramble back into the play, and he knocked DeCoud off Taylor, who skipped outside and went on to score.

The defense forced a three-and-out on New England's next possession. On the Patriots' third possession, the defense forced a field-goal attempt, but Chevis Jackson was called for a questionable roughing-the-kicker penalty.

Three plays later, Brady found tight end Aaron Hernandez in the back of the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown pass. Weatherspoon was in coverage.

Meanwhile, the Falcons' second and third possessions were similar to those of the Patriots. On the Falcons' second, the offense was stopped on three downs and forced to punt. On the third, Ryan went to the no-huddle attack.

Wide receiver Roddy White, who is attempting to become the first receiver in franchise history to post four consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons, had gains of 17 and nine yards as the offense moved to New England's 29. On a third-and-4 from there, a pass intended for Gonzalez was incomplete.

Bryant came on and missed a 47-yard field-goal attempt that sailed wide right.

He also missed a 50-yarder to the right last week in the 20-10 victory over Kansas City. In two games, that's five drives, four field-goal attempts and one punt.

"We've got to put the ball in the end zone," Gonzalez said.

White atoned for a dropped screen pass that was a drive-killer against the Chiefs.

"We've got to find a way to finish drives and convert some of those third downs," White said.

In the second quarter, John Parker Wilson took over for Ryan, and Brian Hoyer took over for Brady.

The Falcons have been pointing to their third exhibition game for some time now. Several slightly injured players are expected to play against the Miami Dolphins on Aug. 27. Perhaps that's when the first-team offense will score a touchdown.

The Falcons will put together a game plan for the Dolphins and hope to see cornerback Dunta Robinson, the Falcons' top offseason pickup, make his debut with the team.

Also, defensive tackle Peria Jerry, safety William Moore, cornerback Brian Williams and running back Jerious Norwood are expected to play against the Dolphins.

The Falcons are now 1-1 in exhibition games, and New England improved to 2-0.