Final

Saints 17

(7-3, 4-2 away)

Falcons 24

(6-3-1, 4-2 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, November 17, 2002

 

1 2 3 4 T
NO 0 0 3 1417
ATL 0 7 7 1024

Vick throws for two TDs and runs for another

ATLANTA (AP) -- Joe Horn swallowed his pride and admitted he was wrong. Yes, the Atlanta Falcons have a pretty good team, a worthy rival to his New Orleans Saints.

Allen's Analysis
Eric Allen
Question on the Saints: What happened to their offense today?
I think QB Aaron Brooks tried to do too much to counter his quarterback cousin, Michael Vick. Brooks didn't stay in the pocket as comfortably as he has in recent weeks. He moved around too much and tried to do too much with his legs.

Question on the Falcons: What has been most impressive about Vick so far this season?
His composure in the pocket and his accuracy. You expect a young QB to be erratic in the pocket at times, but Vick has been consistent. He has a great pocket presence, and he isn't afraid to challenge defenses with his pinpoint accuracy.

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

"It's a rivalry now,'' Horn said after firing up the Falcons by arguing to the contrary.

Michael Vick flew through the air like Superman on a touchdown run, while the Falcons slowed down the New Orleans offense for a 24-17 victory Sunday -- their second victory over the Saints in four weeks.

"They whipped us twice,'' Horn said. "They beat us. We are 0-and-2 against the Falcons. I'm a man. I can admit that.''

Atlanta (6-3-1) extended its unbeaten streak to six and crept within a half-game of New Orleans (7-3) in the NFC South.

Tampa Bay (8-2) is alone in first after beating Carolina 23-10.

The Falcons were fired up by Horn, who claimed the Falcons were lucky to win the first meeting 37-35 on a field goal as time ran out. He also said the Falcons were basically a one-man team, relying on Vick to carry them all the way to the Super Bowl.

"He was disrespecting a lot of people on our team,'' defensive end Patrick Kerney said. "Mike is a great quarterback and he's doing a lot of things. But a lot of people are contributing.''

The Falcons haven't lost since an Oct. 6 defeat against Tampa Bay dropped them to 1-3. Since then, the only blemish is last week's 34-34 tie against Pittsburgh. Even that outcome felt like a win, because Atlanta rallied from a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter.

Vick put on another dazzling performance before a raucous Georgia Dome crowd of 70,382 -- the second-largest turnout in Falcons history.

The most spectacular play came in the third quarter.

On third-and-goal from the New Orleans 7, Vick took a shotgun snap, tucked the ball under his right arm and took off for the right corner. With several Saints closing in, he didn't appear to have room to reach the end zone.

Not so fast. Vick switched the ball to his left hand, planted his right foot at the 2 -- just inches from the boundary -- and launched his body toward the goal line. Somehow, he managed to stick the ball across before a defender sent him sprawling out of bounds. The amazing play gave Atlanta a 14-0 lead.

"We need to start calling him Houdini,'' said Trevor Gaylor, who hauled in a 74-yard touchdown pass from Vick. "He can find a way to get out of any situation. He's selling himself out to get us the win. He's not worried about getting hurt.''

Vick ran seven times for 55 yards. He was only 11-of-23 passing, but this guy can't be judged on quarterback rating alone.

In the second quarter, Vick ad-libbed a play that came right off the schoolyard, resulting in the long TD pass to Gaylor.

Rolling left to escape pressure, Vick motioned to Gaylor to go deep, then hit him in stride more than 50 yards down the field. Jay Bellamy fell down trying to keep up, allowing the Atlanta receiver to high-step the final 10 yards.

"Basically, it was a broken play,'' Gaylor said. "The slant play wasn't there. Mike told me to go deep. When I caught it, there was no one around me, so I had time to dance into the end zone.''

The Falcons' defense had a lot of prove after giving up a franchise-record 645 yards in the tie at Pittsburgh. New Orleans, leading the NFL in scoring, didn't reach the end zone until Aaron Brooks threw a quick slant to Horn that turned into a 57-yard touchdown pass with 11:54 remaining.

Trevor Gaylor

Trevor Gaylor (81) had three catches for 100 yards and also tackled Ken Irvin after this interception.

That cut Atlanta's lead to 17-10, but Vick finished off the Saints with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Alge Crumpler with 3:56 remaining, set up by Juran Bolden's interception. Crumpler hauled in a perfectly placed pass from Vick with time to drag both feet in the end zone.

The Saints raced down the field for a touchdown, Brooks connecting with Donte Stallworth on a 12-yard scoring play with 47 seconds left. It didn't matter -- Crumpler pulled down the onside kick.

"Last week, we were embarrassed on defense,'' Kerney said. "Everyone had something to prove.''

Horn didn't catch a pass until the second half, but finished with 134 yards on just three receptions. That included a 63-yard play that set up a field goal.

The Saints were held to their lowest-scoring game of the season. They were averaging more than 32 points a game.

Deuce McAllister, who ran all over the Falcons in the first meeting, was held to 43 yards on 13 carries. He didn't play for much of the fourth quarter after spraining his right ankle.

"They did a pretty good job of stopping our offense,'' McAllister said. "They did a great job on me.''

Game notes


Gaylor started in place of WR Shawn Jefferson, who missed only the second game of his career because of a foot injury. Jefferson had a streak of 103 consecutive games. ... The Falcons have won 13 of the last 16 meetings between the division foes. ... A scary moment for the Saints: CB Fred Thomas was knocked out when he took a knee to the head making a tackle on Crumpler. Thomas was motionless on the turf for several minutes, but was able to run off.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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