Report card: Dolphins 20, Falcons 17

Credit: David Goldman

Credit: David Goldman

Here are the grades for the Falcons from their 20-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins before a crowd of 70,593 (tickets distributed) at Mercedes Benz Stadium on Sunday.

The Falcons, with offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian calling plays from above in the coaching box, jumped out to a 17-0 halftime lead. They would score no more.

The Falcons dropped to 3-2. The Dolphins improve to 3-2 and got a late interception from safety Reshad Jones, the Booker T. Washington High and Georgia player, to secure the upset in the final minute.

The Falcons were 13-point favorites.

The Dolphins became the first team since the 2004 Cleveland Browns not to score a touchdown in the first half of their first five games. However, they rallied past the Falcons behind a strong rushing attack after intermission.

Run offense: On their first possession, the Falcons settled for a field goal after getting stopped on third-and-1. Sarkisian called a toss sweep and Tevin Coleman lost a yard. The Falcons refuse to run power plays in short-yardage situations. On their fourth possession, Freeman busted loose for a 44-yard gain in the second quarter to set up Coleman's six-yard touchdown run. The run game was stymied in the second half. Grade: C

Pass offense: Ryan has thrown six interceptions over the past three games, including two losses. He's committed seven turnovers. Ryan missed on his first throw of 20 yards or more, but connected with wide receiver Marvin Hall on his second deep ball for a 40-yard touchdown. Ryan had connected on only 3 of 15 passes traveling 20 yards or more before his bomb to Hall. With Mohamed Sanu out with a hamstring injury, Ryan moved the ball around to seven receivers in the first half. With the return of right tackle Ryan Schraeder, the pass protection was stellar in the first half before it fell apart in the second half.  Grade: C

Run defense: Dolphins running backs Jay Ajayi and Damien Williams had some success running to the weak side of an unbalanced line. The Falcons gave up 125 yards rushing against Chicago. They gave up 117 against Buffalo, 71 to Detroit and 59 to Green Bay. The unit did a better job with missed tackles, but defensive end Brooks Reed lost containment early when Ajayi scooted outside for a 18-yard gain. The Dolphins finished with 139 yards to power their comeback. Grade: D-minus

Pass defense: Middle linebacker Deion Jones had a nice interception when he made up some ground a weak side-armed passed by Jay Cutler intended for Jarvis Landry. He was spying Cutler when he picked off his second pass in the third quarter that was negated by a roughing the passer penalty on Grady Jarrett. The Falcons were fine with Landry, Kenny Stills and tight end Julius Thomas working underneath. They just couldn't let Stills get open deep and they were successful. The defensive line did a good job of getting their hands up as Cutler wanted to just dink and dunk on short routes. Grade: C

Special teams:  Kicker Matt Bryant missed his first field goal of the year, a 59-yard attempt right before the half. Former coach Mike Smith didn't kick Bryant farther than 52 yards. He was about three yards short and punter Matt Bosher made the tackle on the return. Bosher's punts had hangtimes of 4.53 (47 yards) seconds, 3.92 (26-yard shank) and 4.99 (55 yards). Bosher had to run on his third attempt after the snap was botched by long snapper Josh Harris.  Grade: C

Coaching: Falcons coach Dan Quinn told the CBS network that the team didn't play with emotion against Buffalo and lost. So, against the Dolphins, the Falcons went over the edge a couple of times and earned stupid penalties and almost started a fight on the sideline. The Falcons must figure out how to play smart and with emotion. Jarrett's knockdown of Cutler was utterly unnecessary, way too late and it led to a Dolphin touchdown to make it 17-14. Rookie Takkarist McKinley also had an unnecessary roughness penalty. Yeah, the Falcons want to be big-hitting intimidators, but do it between the whistles. Grade: D.

Next up: The Falcons travel to play the New England Patriots at 8:30 p.m. Sunday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.