Defensive end Patrick Kerney scored off a fumble, T.J. Duckett had a touchdown run and coach Dan Reeves relied on some high-risk play-calling to preserve a 20-17 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
|Michael Vick gets double trouble from Anthony Weaver (98) and Chad Williams. (AP)|
Against a Ravens defense that stepped up its play without Ray Lewis, Vick completed only 12 of 24 passes for 136 yards, was sacked three times, had minus-5 yards rushing, fumbled twice and threw his first interception of the season.
Still, the Falcons (5-3) won their fourth in a row, the team's longest winning streak since their Super Bowl season of 1998.
"You're going to have games like this," Vick said. "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.
"When Mike makes mistakes, they're magnified," receiver Trevor Gaylor said. "But no one got down on him. We know if we leave Mike alone, he'll come back. Our confidence in No. 7 is unbelievable."
The Falcons built a 17-3 lead when Duckett, who missed the previous game with a foot injury, scored on a 1-yard run in the second quarter.
The Ravens (3-5) rallied, pulling to 17-10 with 1:56 left in the half on Jeff Blake's 7-yard pass to Travis Taylor to cap a nine-play, 92-yard drive -- Baltimore's longest of the season.
On their first possession of the second half, the Ravens evened the score, as fullback Alan Ricard rumbled 19 yards up the middle.
But the Falcons held on after Feely's go-ahead field goal.
"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 skipped a field-goal try and went for the clinching first down. Vick threw a low pass that 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. For Dan Reeves to throw it on fourth-and-4 was really shocking."
Baltimore played without star linebacker Lewis and No. 1 quarterback Chris Redman, both injured. Lewis, in fact, didn't even make the trip to Atlanta, where he was charged in a double-murder case after the 2000 Super Bowl.
Even without Lewis, the Ravens confused Vick, getting steady pressure on the elusive quarterback and keeping him from anything longer than a 3-yard gain.
"Without Ray Lewis, everyone thought we would blow them out of the water," Vick said. "Nah, that's a good defense."
Blake, making his second straight start, had a crucial fumble that led to Kerney's touchdown. The quarterback also was sacked six times and threw an interception.
Feely and Baltimore's Matt Stover traded field goals before Kerney scored the first touchdown of his career. After the ball inexplicably fell out of Blake's hand before his arm went forward, Ravens lineman Jonathan Ogden tried to pick it up instead of falling on it. He kicked the ball toward Kerney, who scooped it off the turf and ran 4 yards for an easy TD.
"The fumble just happened," Blake said. "I thought my hand was going forward, but we didn't get the call and they got a free touchdown."
Duckett set up his short TD run with a 33-yard gain. The rookie finished with 75 yards on 13 carries.
Blake lofted a soaring 64-yard pass to Taylor that sparked Baltimore's comeback. Taylor caught four passes for 127 yards and led the Ravens in rushing, ad-libbing for 39 yards on a botched reverse.
Jamal Lewis was held to 36 yards on 12 carries.
- Kerney's touchdown was the first by an Atlanta defensive player since the opener in 2000.
- Ravens CB Chris McAlister left the game early in fourth quarter with a sprained ankle.
- Baltimore tried a fake punt in the second quarter, but Dave Zastudil 's pass was a little high and went through the hands of Ron Johnson.
- Vick had gone 171 passes since his last interception.
The Associated Press News Service
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