Falcons hand Jets 27-14 loss

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Falcons made Vinny Testaverde look every bit like a 41-year-old quarterback.

Michael Vick didn't look much better.

Testaverde fumbled three times in the first 17 1/2 minutes, leading to two touchdowns, and the Falcons dealt New York another road loss, beating the Jets 27-14 on Monday night.

Warrick Dunn rushed for 155 yards, breaking off a 65-yard run in the second quarter when the Falcons (5-2) were backed up on their own 5. That led to a field goal and a 20-0 lead.

The first 17 points were handed over by Testaverde, whose three fumbles tied a career worst. He also threw an interception as New York dropped to 0-4 on the road this season, averaging a mere 10.3 points in those losses.

All beat up, Testaverde left the game late in the third quarter with a right Achilles' injury, having gone 11-of-18 for 139 yards. He was replaced by Brooks Bollinger.

Apparently, Joe Namath wasn't available.

Vick ran for a couple of touchdowns from 1 yard out, but it was a dismal night otherwise. Appearing confused by the Jets' coverages, he threw a career-high three interceptions while going 11-of-26 for 116 yards. Only three of his completions went to wideouts.

The Jets (2-5) never seriously challenged until Vick threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter. Bollinger directed a touchdown drive off the first turnover, and had New York in position to make a game of it until a fourth-down pass at the Falcons 11 was knocked down by Demorrio Williams.

On New York's second offensive play of the game, Testaverde bobbled the snap from replacement center Pete Kendall. Atlanta's Bryan Scott recovered at the Jets 20.

That play epitomized the plight of an injury plagued team. Testaverde came out of retirement after New York's top two quarterbacks, Chad Pennington and Jay Fiedler, went down. Kendall moved over from guard to replace six-time Pro Bowl center Kevin Mawae, out for the season after tearing his triceps last week.

Testaverde's fumble led to Vick's first TD, a dazzling run that actually covered a lot more than 1 yard. He rolled to his left, feigned a throw to fake out safety Kerry Rhodes and slipped just inside the pylon with a burst of speed.

The Jets -- with a geriatric quarterback and an offensive line that has been almost totally revamped since the start of the year -- were just getting warmed up.

On New York's next possession, Antwan Lake broke through to sack Testaverde, the ball coming loose just before the quarterback's knee hit the ground. Patrick Kerney scooped it up and nearly broke free for a touchdown, getting tripped up by fullback Jerald Sowell.

The Falcons settled for Todd Peterson's 22-yard field goal, but the defense wasn't done.

Two possessions later, Rod Coleman burst straight up the middle without being blocked and slung Testaverde to the ground, the ball flying loose again before he went down. Backup defensive end Chauncy Davis picked it up in stride and ran 24 yards for his first career touchdown.

Davis was only in the game because Brady Smith went out with a dislocated toe.

The Jets finally showed signs of life before halftime. After Justin Miller's 95-yard kickoff return was ruined by a holding penalty, Testaverde led New York down the field. He completed three passes for 59 yards on the drive before scoring himself with a 1-yard plunge.

Atlanta tightened up its run defense after giving up 211 yards to New Orleans a week earlier. Curtis Martin was held to 28 yards on 14 carries, though he did score on a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter.

Martin was coming off a season-high 148 yards at Buffalo, silencing critics who wondered if the 11-year veteran was slowing down. Now, he'll face the same scrutiny after finding little room to run against the Falcons.

Atlanta, the league's top rushing team, helped its average with 207 yards on the ground.

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