ATLANTA (CBSMiami) – There’s an old saying that goes ‘it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.’
Following three straight losses to open the preseason, the Miami Dolphins finished their exhibition schedule strongly with Thursday’s 34-7 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
It was a game that only featured one player on Miami’s projected starting lineup, and that was rookie linebacker Jordan Baker who was likely being given as many snaps as possible before officially beginning his NFL career in 10 days against Tennessee.
Much of the interest in this game surrounded the battles among players who were fighting for a job, whether it be a second-team position or just a spot on the final roster.
Highlighting those battles was the one for backup quarterback.
BROCK THE BACKUP?
The night couldn’t have started any better for the Brock Osweiler-led Dolphins offense.
Osweiler and David Fales are competing to backup Ryan Tannehill and if Thursday night was any indication, there is now a clear favorite.
Opening the game with consecutive touchdown drives, Osweiler looked stronger against Atlanta that he had at any other point during the preseason.
It was a welcomed sight for head coach Adam Gase, who seemed pleased with what he saw in the Brock-led offense when asked about it at halftime.
“They had a good tempo going,” Gase said. “They took advantage of some of the calls versus the coverages they ran. They got some explosive plays. It was good to see.”
Osweiler completed 16-of-25 passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns against the Falcons, good for a passer rating of 106.6. He also scrambled for 10 yards on a pair of carries.
Coming into the game, Osweiler’s preseason QB rating was a measly 60.4.
As for Fales, he threw for just 94 yards after completing 13 of his 20 passes. One of those incompletions was an interception, his third of the preseason.
BALLAGE WAS BALLING
Rookie running back Kalen Ballage cemented his spot on the Dolphins roster with a strong performance against the Falcons.
After spending most of the preseason in the concussion protocol, Ballage showed why the coaching staff feels the future is bright for the 22-year-old.
He picked up 25 yards and scored a touchdown on four carries while adding three receptions for 37 yards.
TWO DEFENSIVE TAKEAWAYS
Linebacker Stephone Anthony and defensive back Jordan Lucas each had an interception for Miami.
Anthony’s interception was off a nice pass break-up by Torry McTyer, who also had a solid game.
Lucas, considered one of the secondary members on the roster bubble, had a strong overall game. He had three tackles, including two for loss, and a sack to go with his interception.
Seventh round pick Jason Sanders may have sewn up Miami’s kicking job on Thursday.
Sanders has been battling with undrafted rookie Greg Joseph, and coming into the preseason finale it was anyone’s guess who would end up claiming the job.
A 56-yard field goal by Sanders during the second half could prove to be the deciding blow.
He finishes the preseason 7-of-9 on field goal attempts and 4-for-4 on extra points.
For his part, Joseph made all three of his preseason field goals after hitting a 33-yarder on Thursday.
Keep in mind that the Dolphins could very well end up signing a veteran kicker if one is cut loose on Saturday.
Last season Miami signed Cody Parkey in the week leading up the regular season despite keeping just one kicker, Andrew Franks, through all of training camp.
It’s officially time to start the countdown to Week 1 when the Dolphins host the Tennessee Titans at Hard Rock Stadium.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. on Sunday, September 9th.