No Vick, no problem for Falcons

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Doug Johnson made the Atlanta Falcons forget the absence of Michael Vick in a game the New York
Giants would simply like to forget.

Question on the Falcons: Does a win like this encourage them to take their time bringing Vick back?
No, because you want your best player on the field. The Falcons benefited today from the way the Giants manage games poorly and play to the level of their competition. Against a tougher, more consistent opponent, they'll need Michael Vick.

Question on the Giants: Is there any team in the league more inconsistent or unpredictable?
Probably not. The Giants seem to be lost. The defense is strong, but they're aimless on offense. They need to find their way soon if they want to have any chance at the playoffs.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

Starting in place of an injured Vick, Doug Johnson ran for a
touchdown and threw a game-winning 14-yard pass to Brian Finneran
with 8:06 to play. That led the Falcons to a 17-10 win over the
Giants on Sunday in a game in which both teams fought injury

"He played great,'' Finneran said of Johnson, the third-year
quarterback who was making only his third career start for the
Falcons (2-3). "He knew it was his team this week and he ran it.
He was confident in the huddle. It was a great performance.''

It wasn't great for the Giants (3-3). They gave away yet another
game with three-major fourth-quarter mistakes. They lost veteran
defensive tackle Keith Hamilton for the season with an Achilles'
injury. Defensive end Michael Strahan also saw limited duty after
developing back spasms in the first quarter.

Those injuries left the defensive line with only one healthy
starter because Kenny Holmes was out with an elbow injury.

"We blew coverages. We let guys get open and we didn't cover
well,'' Giants coach Jim Fassel said after watching Johnson hit 19
of 25 passes for 257 yards. "Their quarterback played a heck of a
game, but we made him look like he was ready for the Hall of

Said Johnson: "I had confidence before this game. What I got
from this game was experience. It was a huge.''

The Giants offense also had its blunders.

Falcons cornerback Juran Bolden prevented New York from taking
the lead early in the fourth quarter with an interception at the
Falcons 6. Henry Jones forced a late fumble that Kevin Mathis
recovered at the Atlanta 15 with 3:22 to play with New York

"It's good to get a win,'' said Falcons coach Dan Reeves, who
coached the Giants from 1993-96. "These guys have been busting
their tails for three weeks now and we didn't have anything to show
for it.''

The Falcons do now, because they made all the big plays with the
game on the line.

Two plays after Bolden intercepted Kerry Collins, Johnson
connected with Shawn Jefferson on a 63-yard pass play that set up
the go-ahead touchdown. Giants cornerback Will Allen went for an
interception at midfield and missed.

"It was a perfect pass,'' Jefferson said. "He threw the ball
like that all day.''

Collins, 20-of-31 for 207 yards, including an 18-yard
third-quarter touchdown pass to Ike Hilliard, moved the Giants into
position to tie the game in the closing minutes.

On fourth-and-3, Collins hit Ron Dixon over the middle despite
having the ball snapped on the wrong count. Dixon carried the ball
to the Atlanta 17, but fumbled and Mathis recovered.

"We felt like this was a game that we would win unless we shot
ourselves in the foot, and we obviously did that,'' Giants guard
Dusty Zeigler said.

Matt Bryant accounted for the other points with a 38-yard field
goal for the Giants, who played without six starters.

Tight end Jeremy Shockey, guard Jason Whittle and cornerback
Will Peterson also were out.

With Falcons keeping things simple without Vick (sprained right
shoulder), and the Giants trying to milk the clock with their
defensive line banged up, both teams used simple ball-control
offense that made for a 2-hour, 38-minute game.

Johnson converted four third-down passes on the Falcons'
17-play, 88-yard drive that lasted 9:34. Johnson scored on a
scramble after getting Jason Sehorn to jump on a pump fake.
Hamilton and Strahan were hurt on the drive.

Bryant got New York within 7-3 with his 38-yard field goal, but
a 30-yard pass from Johnson to wide-open tight end Alge Crumpler
set up Jay Feely's field goal with 30 seconds left in the half.

The Giants tied the score on the opening series of the second
half, driving 70 yards in 12 plays, with Hilliard beating Bolden in
the corner of the end zone.

Game notes
Zeigler, the Giants starting center, played for the
first time since having surgery on his right knee in January. He
started at right guard for Whittle, out with back spasms. Sehorn,
who also had surgery in January, started his first game this season
for Peterson. ... Giants rookies Tim Carter and Daryl Jones each
had his first career reception. ... Reeves thinks the Falcons lost
rookie LB Will Overstreet for the season with a shoulder injury.
Warrick Dunn hed seven catches for 69 yards for the Falcons. ...
Hilliard had seven catches for 76 yards for New York.

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