Cardinals spoil Falcons’ stadium debut behind Brown’s two TDs
ATLANTA (AP) — John Brown made a strong statement his lingering quadriceps injury is no concern as he caught two touchdown passes to lead the Arizona Cardinals to a 24-14 preseason win over the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday night.
Brown showed off his speed when he caught a 28-yard scoring pass from Carson Palmer and a 21-yarder from Drew Stanton, each in the second quarter.
The game was the first event held at the new $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium. There are ongoing issues with the stadium’s complicated retractable roof, which is expected to remain closed indefinitely. There were no glitches in the stadium’s other bragging points, including a big halo video board.
Brown’s explosive showing confirmed his status as the Cardinals’ top downfield threat after he had been slowed by the injury. Last week, coach Bruce Arians said if Brown “can’t run long enough, we’ve got to replace him.”
Brown’s ability to recover quickly from injuries is affected by his 2016 diagnosis with sickle cell trait. He also left camp this week for a funeral in Miami and rejoined the team Friday night in Atlanta.
The Atlanta offense fell flat in the stadium unveiling. Matt Ryan’s pass on the Falcons’ first play was intercepted by Tyrann Mathieu.
In the second quarter, Falcons backup Matt Schaub lost a fumble on his first snap when hit by linebacker Markus Golden. Chandler Jones recovered for Arizona (2-2), and one play later Brown made an over-the-shoulder grab for his 21-yard TD.
Arizona rookie James Summers had a 5-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter.
Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones made his preseason debut but did not have a catch. He has made a full recovery from offseason foot surgery and was targeted on a long pass from Ryan in the first quarter.
Atlanta’s No. 3 quarterback Matt Simms threw a 57-yard touchdown pass to rookie Josh Magee late in the game.
Cardinals starting running back David Johnson did not play. Chris Johnson had six carries for 31 yards with a fumble that was recovered by guard Evan Boehm.
There were 70,237 tickets distributed. The capacity for the new stadium is 71,000. It appeared at least one-third of the seats were empty.
Ryan, sharp in limited playing time in the first two preseason games for the Falcons (0-3), completed only 4 of 11 passes for 36 yards. Palmer completed 8 of 13 passes for 86 yards and a touchdown.
Stanton, who beat out Blaine Gabbert to be Arizona’s backup, completed 4 of 6 passes for 53 yards and a touchdown.
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