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Atlanta 37, New Orleans 35

Oct. 27, 2002 at 8:36 PM   |   Comments

NEW ORLEANS, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- Jay Feely kicked a 47-yard field goal as time expired Sunday as the Atlanta Falcons pulled out a 37-35 victory over the New Orleans Saints.

Feely missed a potential winning 45-yard kick in the final minute of the Falcons' loss to Chicago in Week 2. But on Sunday, he helped lift Atlanta to a seventh win in its last eight visits to New Orleans.

"You can't help but have thoughts about the Chicago game," he said. "I just said a prayer and after that I was at ease. It was a great team effort to put me in position to win the game."

Michael Vick engineered the game-winning 11-play, 50-yard drive during the final 2:12 to outduel his cousin and fellow quarterback Aaron Brooks.

Vick accounted for 277 total yards for the Falcons (4-3), matching his franchise record with 91 on the ground and contributing two rushing touchdowns. Brooks threw for 192 yards and a pair of touchdowns for the Saints (6-2), who are tied for first place in the NFC South with Tampa Bay.

"He (Brooks) brings out the best in me. I brought out the best in him," Vick said. "We've still got one more game to go (on Nov. 17 in Atlanta), so I can't brag too much."

In a game that featured five lead changes, Atlanta's Warrick Dunn rushed for 142 yards and a touchdown, but fumbled with 3:33 left.

Deuce McAllister had a 16-yard touchdown run on the ensuing drive to give New Orleans a 35-34 advantage.

"It was one of the greatest games I have ever been involved in," Falcons Coach Dan Reeves said. "I've never seen anything go like that back and forth."

The NFC's leading rusher, McAllister matched the Saints' single-season record with his sixth 100-yard rushing game. He gained 115 on 17 carries with two scores and added another on a 19-yard catch.

Feely also missed a 50-yard field goal in the first quarter in Atlanta's one-point loss to Chicago on Sept. 15. But since then, the Michigan product has made 12 of 13 attempts, including all three at the Superdome.

"We said when he missed the one against Chicago that he's going to win a lot of games for us," Reeves said. "I thought he did a great job knocking that through."

The league's rushing leader among quarterbacks, Vick exhibited his electrifying speed, slaloming through the Saints' defense on his 32-yard touchdown run. That capped a 10-play, 92-yard drive and increased the Falcons' lead to 34-25 with 5:57 left in the contest.

"That's why he was the No. 1 pick in the draft last year," Saints Coach Jim Haslett said. "He's got mobility, he's hard to handle, he's hard to bring down."

"If things break down, he can scramble out and get the first down and more. He's a dangerous guy on the field," Dunn said. "He's young now, so he can run like that. But I think when he gets older, he'll have the game much more under control.

"Mike is mature beyond his years. I think he's a blessing to this franchise."

New Orleans has faced worse deficits this season. Just a week earlier, the Saints scored 22 points in the fourth quarter, rallying from 11 points down for a 35-27 triumph over San Francisco.

John Carney made his second 40-yard field goal of the game with 3:38 to play and pulled New Orleans within 34-28.

Dunn then gave the ball right back to the Saints. On the opening play of the Falcons' ensuing drive, Dunn was stripped by safety Jay Bellamy -- the running back's second fumble of the game.

"It was tough (to watch)," Dunn said. "I think the most important thing is that you have faith in the guys to go out and play. We've been working on our two-minute offense forever. It actually came in handy today and worked."

Just four plays later on second and 10 from the Atlanta 16, McAllister ran over left tackle and flattened safety Keion Carpenter en route to the end zone, edging New Orleans back in front, 35-34.

"I was just determined to get in the end zone," McAllister said. "Unfortunately, (Atlanta) had too much time left."

The Falcons had no timeouts remaining when Vick completed passes on the first three plays of the game-winning drive. The second-year signal caller then ran eight yards to the Falcons' 47 before spiking the ball with just 66 seconds to go.

"He just has so much more poise," Reeves said. "The thing about it is that he has a bad thumb and a bad shoulder. He wasn't going to come out. He did a great job. He just made some unbelievable athletic plays."

Vick completed a 14-yard pass to receiver Shawn Jefferson and Saints cornerback Fakhir Brown was penalized for holding Jefferson, advancing the Falcons to the New Orleans 29 and within field-goal range.

The Saints matched their franchise record for most points scored in a defeat.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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