Yes, in the second preseason game of their season, the Atlanta Falcons lost to the Cincinnati Bengals 24-19. But beyond the two teams on the field, many were watching the game within the game between Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green and the Falcons’ Julio Jones.
The comparisons between the two young stud receivers have been ongoing since their days in the SEC, when Green was at Georgia hauling in circus catches from Matthew Stafford, and Jones was at Alabama helping to lead the Crimson Tide to a BCS National Championship.
During their rookie seasons in the NFL, both receivers were scrutinized closely by the media, and both of them never failed to impress. Green led all rookie receivers in 2011 with 65 receptions for 1057 yards and seven touchdowns, while Jones had 54 catches for 959 yards and eight touchdowns in only 13 games.
Last night was the first time the two receivers had played head to head in a game since both were drafted in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, with Green going fourth overall, and Jones going sixth.
So if you are keeping score at home, as of right now it stands at Green 1, Jones 0…at least in touchdown catches.
Green caught only two passes in his limited time in the game, but one of them was a beautiful 50 yard touchdown pass from Andy Dalton where Green beat Falcons defensive back Asante Samuel.
Jones didn’t put up quite the gaudy numbers that he did against the Baltimore Ravens, but he still had an outstanding game, catching three passes for 41 yards, although he did drop a sure touchdown pass from Matt Ryan in the second quarter.
The rest of the game was fairly predictable. The Falcons first team got off to a slow start, but played well on both sides of the ball. While the second and third teams were less effective, and gave up a Falcons lead for the second straight week.
The biggest concern for Atlanta coaches coming out of this game won’t be that Julio Jones was out-touchdowned by A.J. Green, but that the Bengals defensive line was constantly playing in the Atlanta backfield. The Falcons only rushed for 81 yards in the entire game, including Michael Turner ending up with -3 yards on three carries against a dinged up Cincinnati defense.
So far none of the personnel mixes at offensive line have been terribly effective, but the coaches are going to have to come up with a starting five on that line soon to begin getting some continuity.