ATLANTA - Jaguars rookie wide receiver Dede Westbrook was a big play machine in Jacksonville's 13-7 win over the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Thursday.
The fourth-round pick exploded for 115 receiving yards and a touchdown on six catches during the first half of the win against Atlanta.
Westbrook's shining moments were somehow able to overshadow the early struggles of second-year quarterback Brandon Allen, who was picked off three times in the first half.
After moving the Jaguars downfield to the Falcons' four-yard line on Jacksonville's second offensive possession, Allen went to Westbrook on a fade pass in the corner of the end zone. The pass was broken up in coverage and intercepted by Atlanta cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson.
On the next offensive series, Allen and Westbrook bounced back from the early turnover. Allen hit Westbrook downfield on a go route for a 43-yard touchdown connection. Westbrook was able to make the catch, despite tight coverage from Falcons cornerback Akeem King. Following an extra point by kicker Jason Myers, the Jaguars led the Falcons, 7-0, at the end of the first quarter.
Unfortunately for Allen, the blunders returned on the next possession. The second-year quarterback was pressured in the pocket and threw a knuckle ball to the sideline. The pass was then picked off by Falcons linebacker Jermaine Grace. It was Allen's second interception in Atlanta territory in just four series.
Allen threw another interception before halftime, as a pass was batted by a defensive lineman and intercepted by Falcons safety Sharrod Neasman.
Allen completed 22-of-31 passes for 265 passing yards, a touchdown and three interceptions against the Falcons. Allen's uneven Atlanta performance may not have been enough to force the Jaguars to keep three quarterbacks on the active roster.
However, Allen did excel in the team's first two preseason games and those performances will be factored into the decision of whether or not to keep him in Jacksonville.
Westbrook was easily Allen's top target on the night. Fellow wide receiver Shane Wynn was also heavily involved on offense with four receptions for 50 yards. Wynn was also featured as a kickoff and punt returner on special teams.
Running backs Jonathan Grimes and Tim Cook shared the majority of the workload in the ground game. The duo combined for 109 rushing yards on 31 carries.
On defense, the Jaguars were able to get to Falcons quarterback Matt Simms with regularity. Defensive end Jonathan Woodard produced a sack-strip on Simms in the second quarter. A few plays later, linebacker P.J. Davis scored a sack on a blitz, taking Simms down for a 10-yard loss.
Safety Tracy Howard produced a forced fumble and an interception in the second half of the game.
On special teams, Myers was perfect on the night. He made field goal attempts of 56 yards and 35 yards in the third quarter. It was a strong night for the third-year kicker, who had felt pressure after struggling in the first two preseason games.
Simms led the Falcons' offense for the majority of the game. He completed 11-of-15 passes for 195 yards. The Falcons were led in the receiving game by wide receiver Marvin Hall, who had a 65-yard catch in the third quarter and finished with three receptions for 82 receiving yards.
Former Gators running back Kelvin Taylor led Atlanta in rushing with 41 yards on 9 carries. He is the son of former Jaguars running back Fred Taylor.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
The Jaguars have found a legit big play threat with Westbrook. He produced six receptions for 115 receiving yards and a touchdown in the first half alone. He was the fixture of every drive in the first half.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Allen hit Westbrook for a 43-yard touchdown completion at the end of the first quarter. Westbrook beat a Falcons defensive back in tight coverage for his second touchdown of 40 or more yards in the preseason.
STAT OF THE GAME
Allen threw three interceptions in the biggest game of this young career. He still was able to complete 70 percent of his throws, despite the turnovers.
Rookie safety Jarrod Harper was carted off the field in the first quarter after being injured on the first punt return of the game. He was evaluated for a concussion.
Fellow safety Jeron Johnson left the game in the fourth quarter with a groin injury.
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.
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