Woodside, Barkley throw TDs as Titans stop Falcons 23-3

Aug 13, 2021, 7:12 AM | Updated: 8:51 pm

ATLANTA (AP) — Following his first look at his offense in a game situation, the best news for Atlanta first-year coach Arthur Smith was the dismal results didn’t count.

Logan Woodside and Matt Barkley each threw touchdown passes to open Tennessee’s backup quarterback competition and the Titans dominated the Falcons 23-3 on Friday night in the preseason opener for both teams.

The Titans held Atlanta to 139 yards and six first downs in the debut for Smith, Tennessee’s former offensive coordinator. AJ McCarron and Feleipe Franks, the contenders to be the Falcons’ backup to starting quarterback Matt Ryan, combined to complete only seven passes for 52 yards.

“Thankfully, those don’t go on the record books,” Smith said, adding “We didn’t do enough to help AJ.”

The Titans’ quarterbacks had more success.

Woodside started and threw a 13-yard scoring pass to Cameron Batson in the second quarter and completed 10 of 15 passes for 84 yards.

“I wanted to give him a good ball, and he went up and made a good play,” Woodside said about Batson’s scoring catch.

Barkley had third-down completions of 14 and 15 yards to Mason Kinsey on a field goal drive early in the second half. Barkley’s 12-yard touchdown pass to tight end Miller Forristall in the fourth quarter completed the scoring.

“Quarterbacks, in my experience, throw to guys that they trust because they know they’re going to be open and they’re going to be where they’re supposed to be,” said Titans coach Mike Vrabel of Barkley’s drive-extending completions to Kinsey. “We came up with some huge conversions in the second half.”

Barkley completed 5 of 8 passes for 54 yards. Neither quarterback threw an interception, though Woodside was sacked three times.

Each team held out its key playmakers. Atlanta rookie tight end Kyle Pitts, the No. 4 overall selection in the NFL draft, was in uniform but did not play. Smith said the decision to hold out Pitts “wasn’t too difficult” and was a sign the rookie has been impressive in training camp.

“Kyle is right on schedule,” Smith said. “If we felt he was behind, we probably would have put him out there.”

It was a unique debut for Smith. His first game as coach came against Tennessee, where he worked for 10 years as an assistant, including the last two leading the offense.

Smith said this week the game against the Titans would provide “s a good evaluation for us because I know what we’re up against.” The results were not encouraging.

McCarron had a pass intercepted by Titans linebacker David Long early in the second period.

A 56-yard punt return by Tennessee’s Chester Rogers to Atlanta’s 14 set up the first of two first-half field goals by Tucker McCann.

The Titans held out starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, running back Derrick Henry and wide receivers Julio Jones and A.J. Brown. None traveled with the team, eliminating Jones’ chance to return to his NFL home of his first 10 seasons before his trade to Tennessee on June 6.

Ryan, wide receiver Calvin Ridley and running back Mike Davis were among key Atlanta players who did not play.

McCarron completed 5 of 12 passes for only 36 yards with an interception.

QB ON THE RUN

Franks was the Falcons’ surprise rushing leader with five carries for 75 yards, including a 52-yard gain early in the fourth quarter. Franks had back-to-back runs of 11 and 10 yards to help set up Younghoe Koo’s 42-yard field goal to open the second half. Koo was wide left from 55 yards following Franks’ 52-yard run.

Franks struggled to move the ball through the air, completing 2 of 10 passes for 9 yards.

WARM REUNION

Smith had hugs and handshakes for some of his former players during pregame warmups. “Sure, you spend a lot of time with those guys,” Smith said. “You wish them well. … It was great, but I’m focused on the Falcons and getting the team better and see if we can improve next week.”

INJURY REPORT

Titans running back Darrynton Evans, who started, hurt his knee in the first quarter and did not return after he was listed as questionable. Titans defensive end Travon Coley hurt his left foot in the second quarter and, after walking off the field with some help, was listed as questionable and did not return.

Two Tennessee defensive players, safety Brady Breeze and linebacker B.J. Bello, left the game in the second quarter with ankle injuries. Breeze was helped to the sideline and then carted to the locker room.

Atlanta defensive linemen Ta’Quon Graham (hand) and John Cominsky left the game in the third quarter. Cominsky was escorted off the field to be checked for a possible concussion.

NEXT UP

Tennessee will play another road game against an NFC South opponent when it visits Tampa Bay on Aug. 21.

Atlanta will have joint practices with the Dolphins at their facility next week before playing at Miami on Aug. 21.

___

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Bryson DeChambeau looks at his club after hitting his tee shot on the fourth hole during the final ...
Associated Press

3 tied for lead after 1st round of LIV Golf in Thailand

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — Richard Bland, Branden Grace and Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra upstaged their more-illustrious opponents on Friday to shoot 7-under 65s and share the lead after the first round of the LIV Golf Invitational-Bangkok. Marc Leishman and Ian Poulter were a stroke behind while Kim Sihwan, Brooks Koepka and Morgan Jediah were among those two […]
1 day ago
Red Bull driver Sergio Perez of Mexico powers his car during first practice session for the Japanes...
Associated Press

Verstappen set to win a second straight F1 season title

SUZUKA, Japan (AP) — Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc knows it. So does anyone following Formula One; no calculators needed. Red Bulls’ Max Verstappen is set to win his second straight drivers’ title, and it’s likely to come on Sunday with rain predicted for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. Friday’s two practice sessions were run in […]
1 day ago
Indianapolis Colts safety Rodney Thomas II (25) and linebacker Zaire Franklin (44) celebrate after ...
Associated Press

Colts grind out 12-9 win over Broncos in injury-filled game

DENVER (AP) — Matt Ryan kept the faith through all the sacks, interceptions, fumbles and three-and-outs that made for a streaming snooze-fest Thursday night. “It was just kind of a slog of a game,” the Indianapolis quarterback said after Stephon Gilmore batted away Russell Wilson’s pass to Courtland Sutton in the end zone on fourth-and-1 […]
1 day ago
Fans of Gimnasia de La Plata choke on tear gas during a local tournament match between Gimnasia de ...
Associated Press

Police, fans clash outside Argentine soccer match; 1 dead

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — At least one person died while police clashed with soccer fans trying to push into an Argentine league match Thursday night, and the referee stopped the game as clouds of tear gas spread inside the stadium. Authorities and witnesses said fans of the home team, Gimnasia y Esgrima, struggled to […]
1 day ago
Tom Hoge tees off on the 13th hole during the first round of the Shriners Children's Open golf tour...
Associated Press

Tom Hoge rides a pair of eagles to 63, Las Vegas lead

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Tom Hoge wanted to be sure to take advantage of pristine conditions Thursday morning in Las Vegas. He did more than he expected, making two eagles on his way to an 8-under 63 for a one-shot lead in the Shriners Children’s Open. One of the eagles came with a gap wedge […]
1 day ago
New York Mets' Francisco Lindor speaks during a news conference the day before a wild-card baseball...
Associated Press

Star-studded Padres and Mets square off in wild-card round

NEW YORK (AP) — For two teams that finished second fiddle in their divisions, the Padres and Mets bring an awful lot of star power into the playoffs. Manny Machado, Juan Soto and Yu Darvish on the San Diego side. Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom and Francisco Lindor for New York — just to name a […]
1 day ago
Woodside, Barkley throw TDs as Titans stop Falcons 23-3