PITTSBURGH, Nov. 10 (UPI) -- Tommy Maddox launched a 50-yard pass to Plaxico Burress on the final play of overtime Sunday, but Burress fell just short of the end zone and the Pittsburgh Steelers settled for a 34-34 tie with the Atlanta Falcons.
"I thought I had a chance at the end, but I came a yard short," said Burress, who had nine catches for a career high and club-record 253 yards. "I knew where I was. I was trying to shove my weight to get across the goal line. I end up falling five inches short."
The Steelers totaled 645 yards and the Falcons, who rallied from a 34-17 deficit in the fourth quarter, had 447.
It was the first tie in the NFL since the New York Giants and Washington Redskins played a 7-7 draw on Nov. 23, 1997. It was the 13th tie game out of 330 overtime contests played since an extra period was included in the rulebook in 1974.
"I don't know how to react. I haven't coached a tie game," Steelers Coach Bill Cowher. "All I know is we didn't lose."
"I think it is the second time I have experienced an overtime game end in a tie," said Falcons Coach Dan Reeves. "Pittsburgh does not blow many leads like that, so I am proud of what we did."
Cowher was 71-1 in games in which his team had a double-digit lead.
"The last time I blocked a field goal it was in college at Villanova and I separated my shoulder," Finneran said. "I was hesiatant, but the ball hit me in the elbow."
Jay Feely of Atlanta attempted a 55-yarder with eight seconds remaining, but had it blocked by James Farrior and the Steelers took over at their own 49.
"It just got blocked," Feely said. "I hit real well. I don't know if it was a line drive or they got a good push. In warmups, I hit a 60 and a 63-yarder going that way."
On the next play, Maddox heaved a long pass to the 6-5 Burress, who used his size to leap over two defenders. But after hauling in the pass, Burress landed and fell at the Atlanta one as time expired.
"Burress was putting his back in our face to make the catch. Fortunately he did not get in, no touchdown, game over," Falcons cornerback Ray Buchanan said. "I was real close to knocking it away."
Burress, who broke Buddy Dial's 1961 club record of 235 yards, earlier caught touchdown passes of 33 and 62 yards.
Despite the heroics of Burress and Maddox, who eclipsed Bobby Layne's club record for passing yards in a game and threw for a career-high four touchdowns, it was Michael Vick who rallied the Falcons from a 17-point deficit in the final eight minutes.
"If there were any doubters in him (Vick), they saw him bring us from 17 down," Reeves said. "Because of him, we don't think we're ever out of a game."
Fullback Bob Christian scored on a one-yard run with 7:44 left and Feely kicked a 40-yard field goal with 2:26 remaining to pull the Falcons within 34-27.
Vick then used his electrifying speed to score on an 11-yard run with 42 seconds left, tying the game at 34-34.
"We did not get down on each other and I think it shows the character of this team," said Vick, who accounted for 346 yards. "It shows how far we have come. I just wish we could have converted more third-down plays in the overtime."
Both teams entered with four-game winning streaks. The Steelers (5-3-1) have a comfortable lead in the AFC North while the Falcons (5-3-1) remained in third in the NFC South, behind Tampa Bay (7-2) and New Orleans (7-2).
"It's unbelievable. Tommy almost threw for 500 yards and we didn't get a win," said Pittsburgh's Hines Ward, who had 11 catches for 139 yards and a touchdown.
Drafted in the first round by Reeves in 1992, Maddox added the most impressive chapter to his already amazing saga with the Steelers, completing 28 of 41 passes and shattering Layne's 1958 club record of 409 yards.
"I would take 150 yards and a win every day of the week rather than a 400-yard game," Maddox said. "This offense is really fun. I think Hines (Ward) and Plax show how good they are week after week and that is exciting for a quarterback."
Since taking over for the benched Kordell Stewart and leading Pittsburgh to a come-from-behind win in Week 3, Maddox has become one of the NFL's major stories this season.
After not playing in the NFL from 1996-2000, Maddox is 4-1-1 as a starter and the Steelers have averaged more than 30 points in that span.
After three years out of football, Maddox starred in the Arena League in 2000 and the XFL in 2001, winning Most Valuable Player honors in the defunct league, before signing with the Steelers last year.
"I love him (Reeves) to death, but I still wanted to beat him," Maddox said. "Man, I wanted that game."
Maddox hit Burress with a 33-yard touchdown and Ward with a five-yard scoring play 1:53 apart in the second quarter to give the Steelers a 17-7 halftime lead.
Warrick Dunn broke off a 59-yard touchdown run on third and one to pull the Falcons within 17-14 2:43 into the third quarter. Dunn finished with 129 yards on 20 carries.
But Maddox responded with a 62-yard touchdown to Burress 2:35 later. Peterson's extra-point attempt was blocked, leaving Pittsburgh with a 23-14 advantage.
Maddox's fourth touchdown pass of the game was an 18-yarder to tight end Jerame Tuman and he followed with a two-point conversion toss to Ward, giving Pittsburgh a 31-17 lead with 2:25 left in the third quarter.
Amos Zereoue again started for the injured Jerome Bettis and rushed for his second straight 100-yard game, gaining 123 yards on 37 carries for Pittsburgh.
Vick completed 24 of 46 passes for 294 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown to Shawn Jefferson in the second quarter, and ran for 52 yards and a score on 10 carries. Jefferson finished with nine receptions for 131 yards.
"That is not good for our defense," said Steelers linebacker Joey Porter, who had eight tackles and a sack. "That is the third time this year somebody chalked 30 points against us. I feel that our defense sometimes overreacts. They made big plays on us."