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Risk rewards Falcons on offense

©Associated Press
November 4, 2002

ATLANTA -- After the past two weeks, Michael Vick was due for a letdown. The rest of the Falcons picked up the slack.

Defensive end Patrick Kerney scored on a fumble return, T.J. Duckett had a touchdown run and coach Dan Reeves relied on some high-risk play-calling Sunday to preserve a 20-17 win over the Ravens.

Vick dominated in wins over Carolina and New Orleans, becoming the first quarterback to rush for more than 90 yards in consecutive games.

But against a defense that stepped up without Ray Lewis, Vick was 12 of 24 for 136 yards, was sacked three times, had minus-5 yards rushing, fumbled twice and threw his first interception of the season.

"You're going to have games like this," said Vick, who had thrown 171 passes without a pickoff. "My performance overall was not good, but we got the win. That's what counts."

The Falcons squandered a 14-point lead, but went ahead for good on Jay Feely's 40-yard field goal with 2:02 left in the third quarter.

The Falcons led 17-3 after Duckett, who missed the previous game with a foot injury, scored on a 1-yard run in the second quarter.

The Ravens pulled within 17-10 with 1:56 left in the half on Jeff Blake's 7-yard pass to Travis Taylor.

The big play on the 92-yard drive was Blake's 64-yard pass to Taylor.

On their first possession of the second half, the Ravens tied it on fullback Alan Ricard's 19-yard run up the middle.

"It's a tall task to think in terms of the playoffs," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "But you don't eliminate that until you're mathematically eliminated."

The Falcons, who opened the game with a flea-flicker that didn't work, pulled off another trick play to help run out the clock.

Vick lined up at receiver, and Warrick Dunn took a shotgun snap. Dunn feigned a handoff to Vick and took off for a 24-yard run on third-and-6.

Then, on fourth-and-4 from the Baltimore 31 with 2:00 left, the Falcons went for the clinching first down. Vick threw a low pass that receiver Trevor Gaylor cradled just above the turf for a 6-yard gain.

"I was almost sure we wouldn't go for it," Gaylor said. "The play-calling in the fourth quarter -- Wow! When our backs were to the wall, it worked to perfection."

Baltimore played without star linebacker Lewis and No. 1 quarterback Chris Redman, both injured.

Even without Lewis, the Ravens confused Vick, getting steady pressure and keeping him from anything longer than a 3-yard gain.

"No one got down on him," Gaylor said. 'We know if we leave Mike alone, he'll come back."

Blake, making consecutive starts, fumbled to lead to Kerney's touchdown. The quarterback also was sacked six times and threw an interception.

The ball fell out of Blake's hand before his arm went forward and Ravens lineman Jonathan Ogden tried to pick it up. He kicked the ball toward Kerney, who scooped it up and ran 4 yards for an easy score.

Duckett set up his short TD run with a 33-yard gain. He had 75 yards on 13 carries.

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