By GEORGE HENRY (Associated Press)
Phillip Livas scored on a 75-yard punt return in the third quarter to help Miami overcome a difficult start by quarterback Chad Henne in the Dolphins’ 28-23 preseason victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Aug. 12.
Atlanta rookie receiver Julio Jones, quarterback Matt Ryan and running back Michael Turner contributed on first-quarter scoring drives that gave the Falcons a 17-0 lead.
Henne threw interceptions on two of Miami’s first three possessions before connecting with Brian Hartline for a 44-yard touchdown pass that made it 17-7 early in the second quarter.
Henne, who completed 4-of-8 passes for 77 yards, did his best work against Atlanta’s defensive reserves.
But the same could be said, too, of Ryan, who completed just one pass against Miami’s defensive starters. The difference, however, was that the Atlanta QB threw one touchdown pass and didn’t have any interceptions. Ryan finished 6-of-10 for 90 yards.
For the Dolphins, who host Carolina at home next week and open the regular season at home Sept. 12 against New England, it was more a matter of who didn’t play as coach Tony Sparano decided to avoid injury risk.
Running back Reggie Bush, receiver Brandon Marshall, defensive end Jason Taylor wore uniforms, but not helmets, and stood on the sideline. Left tackle Jake Long wasn’t in uniform.
Daniel Thomas started in Bush’s place and ran four times for 5 yards. Davone Bess subbed for Marshall and caught two passes for 8 yards.
Atlanta, which went 13-3 last year to earn the NFC’s No. 1 seed, will visit Jacksonville for a preseason game next week. The Falcons open the regular season Sept. 11 in Chicago.
On Henne’s first interception, tight end Anthony Fasano was running right to left when the pass arrived behind him. Defensive end John Abraham, who had dropped into coverage, grabbed the bobbled ball to set up the offense at the Atlanta 44.
Three plays later, Ryan threw a soft pass over the middle to Jones, who was running a left-to-right drag