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Andersen kicks five field goals to lift Falcons

Oct 1, 2006 - 8:09 PM ATLANTA (Ticker) -- If not for Morten Andersen and Michael Vick, the Atlanta Falcons may not have had a leg to stand on.

The ageless Andersen kicked five field goals and Vick rushed for 101 yards as the Falcons posted a 32-10 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

Coming off a 23-3 loss against New Orleans on the night their NFC South rivals returned to the Superdome, the Falcons rebounded against a Cardinals team that is going to a rookie quarterback.

"The situation was crazy last week," Vick said. "It was something we had to deal with as a team and shake it off. That is what great teams do."

Andersen, the oldest player in the NFL at 46, showed his left leg still could be an effective weapon. He kicked field goals of 34, 40, 36, 26 and 28 yards.

"It's just great to be part of the team again," said Andersen, who is second all-time with 2,391 points. "I think I have had five nine times now."

Michael Koenen, who Andersen replaced as the regular kicker, also booted a 51-yard field goal.

Despite the problems in the red zone, Vick is not worried.

"I am not concerned with the red zone," Vick said. "As long as we get opportunities down there we will make something happen. Whether we get two field goals and a touchdown or three field goals and a touchdown, as long as we are moving the ball on a consistent basis, then I am happy about what we are doing offensively."

Vick struggled through the air but managed his second 100-yard game of the season and seventh career. The lefthander completed 13-of-22 passes for 153 yards and an interception that was returned 99 yards for a touchdown by strong safety Adrian Wilson.

The Falcons (3-1) also received a pair of big plays in the second half to put the game out of reach.

Pro Bowl cornerback DeAngelo Hall returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown with 4:59 left in the third quarter to give Atlanta a 22-10 lead.

After Warner lost a fumble, third-round pick Jerious Norwood broke off a 78-yard TD run on the next play for a 29-10 advantage with 13:18 remaining.

Behind its running game that piled up 262 yards, Atlanta held a 405-187 advantage in total yards. The Falcons also failed to allow an offensive touchdown for the third time in four games this season.

Cardinals coach Dennis Green, who reportedly contemplated starting Leinart over Kurt Warner, made the switch early in the fourth quarter after Warner lost a fumble.

Green announced Leinart would start next week against Kansas City.

"I will do whatever I can to help Matt," Warner said. "We have to figure out a way to get this thing going. We have to get behind Matt and support him and hopefully he can turn the tides."

"We have to figure something out," said Cardinals running back Edgerrin James, who was limited to 41 yards rushing on 20 attempts. "We have too much talent to even have problems like this, but we'll figure it out. That's what it really boils down to."

Warner completed 11-of-20 passes for 128 yards and an interception. The former two-time Most Valuable Player also fumbled twice, bringing his season total to 11 in three games.

Leinart went 5-of-9 for 49 yards, threw an interception and lost a fumble.

"Obviously you do not want to go in under those circumstances," said Leinart, the 2004 Heisman Trophy-winner at Southern California. "I wanted to go in there and make plays and keep the guys alive. It was a tough game to try and come back from, but I at least wanted to get in there and not let the team quit."

Arizona (1-3) committed turnovers on four straight possessions in the second half in its third straight loss since a season-opening win over San Francisco.

With the Falcons holding a 9-3 lead, they looked to be on the verge of building upon the advantage after reaching the Cardinals with under seven minutes left in the first half.

Vick rolled to his right and had his pass intended for Michael Jenkins intercepted by Wilson, who raced down the left sideline for a 99-yard TD - the longest play in franchise history.

"It's in the record books, man," Wilson said. "But it doesn't mean much because we lost the game."

The Falcons put together an 11-play, 73-yard drive later in the period. But the drive stalled at the Arizona 17, bringing on Andersen for a 36-yard field goal that gave Atlanta a 12-10 lead with 12 seconds left in the half.

On the fifth play from scrimmage in the second half, Vick had a 58-yard touchdown pass to tight end Alge Crumpler nullified by a holding penalty on wide receiver Roddy White.

But Vick ran for 27 yards on the drive that Andersen capped with a 26-yard field goal to make it 15-10 with 7:12 left in the third quarter. From there, the Cardinals unraveled.

Warner had a pass tipped by linebacker Michael Boley, with the ball falling into the waiting arms of Hall, who returned the pick 37 yards down the left sideline for his second career touchdown to increase the Falcons' lead to 22-10.

The Cardinals reached the Falcons 23 on their ensuing possession. But Warner was sacked from behind by Boley, who also jarred the ball loose. Defensive tackle Rod Coleman pounced on the fumble at the 23.

"The coaches look for me to do a lot of different things," Boley said. "I come out every day and just try to give my all on the field and I think I did that today."

Norwood then sealed things with his scamper down the left sideline that made it 29-10 with just over 13 minutes remaining. Norwood rushed for 106 yards on six carries.

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