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NFL Preseason Preview - Atlanta (1-0) at Houston (0-1)



By John McMullen, NFL Editor

(SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of teams that suffered the ignominious trip from the penthouse to the outhouse last year continue preparations for the 2014 season when the Atlanta Falcons pay a visit to the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium.

The Falcons, who are looking to rectify a dismal 4-12 record from a season ago, came away as the 16-10 victor in their preseason opener with Miami but their much-maligned defense stumbled against the Dolphins' starters.

Sergio Castillo kicked a pair of second-half field goals to provide the winning margin for the Falcons at the Georgia Dome, capping a 13-play, 76-yard drive with a 21-yard boot that snapped a 10-10 deadlock late in the third quarter. He then added a 34-yard field goal on the Falcons' next possession, a kick set up by Sean Renfree's 57-yard pass to rookie running back Devonta Freeman.

The Dolphins marched down to the Atlanta 4-yard line with under three minutes to play, but quarterback Seth Lobato mishandled a center exchange and the Falcons' Nosa Eguae pounced on the fumble to kill the scoring opportunity.

Matt Ryan played just one series for Atlanta but was flawless, going 7-for-7 for 53 yards on a 15-play sequence that ended in a Jacquizz Rodgers 2-yard run that tied the game at 7-7 near the end of the opening quarter.

Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill also excelled on his lone drive for Miami, however, hitting on all six of his throws for 62 yards on a jaunt the quarterback culminated with a 6-yard touchdown strike to Brandon Gibson.

The Texans, meanwhile, picked up right where they left off from their disastrous 2-14 campaign from a year ago, getting whitewashed by Arizona, 32-0, in their preseason opener.

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was signed as a free agent in the offseason and is expected to be the starter when the regular season begins, had an inauspicious debut as he went just 6-for-14 for 55 yards and was picked off twice in Bill O'Brien's debut as the team's head coach.

Top overall pick Jadeveon Clowney, who had sports hernia surgery in June, saw limited play and had one tackle in his first professional action.

The Falcons and Texans have never met in the preseason, but have played three times during the regular season. Houston holds a 2-1 advantage over Atlanta in the all-time series, including a 17-10 win at NRG Stadium in 2011.

08/14 13:27:15 ET