for this game

Vick passes for four touchdowns, Andersen kicks winner in OT

Oct 22, 2006 - 9:20 PM ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Morten Andersen proved he no longer has the leg for a 52-yard field goal. But a 32-yarder remains a chip shot for the 46-year-old kicker.

After Michael Vick threw a career-high four touchdown passes, including three to tight end Alge Crumpler, Andersen kicked a 32-yard field goal with 8:04 left in overtime to lift the Atlanta Falcons to a thrilling 41-38 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in an interconference game.

The last time the teams played resulted in the last NFL game to finish in a tie - 34-34 on November 10, 2002 at Pittsburgh. This one went into overtime as well and featured six lead changes and 872 total yards.

"This win was just what the doctor ordered for our football team," Falcons coach Jim Mora Jr. said. "I think we needed a game like this that was wild and crazy. There were changes in momentum and changes in lead and it was tough on us. I think that games like this build character that you can put in reserve down the line.

"I think we learned something about ourselves today and that's that we can hang with the heavyweight champs."

Vick was magnificent, Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger was unstoppable before he was injured in the third quarter and Hines Ward, a college star at Georgia, enjoyed quite a homecoming.

The game was nearly won on a 56-yard field goal with 35 seconds left in the fourth quarter, but Michael Koenen's booming kick did not count since Steelers coach Bill Cowher called a timeout just before the snap and the officials waved off the play.

On his second attempt, Koenen was short and wide, but Troy Polamalu was penalized for running into the kicker.

That gave the Falcons (4-2) another chance, but Mora switched from Koenen to Andersen, the NFL's second all-time leading scorer. The 52-yard attempt was too long for Andersen, who kicked it down the middle but was three yards shy of the crossbar

"Mike kicked a great ball," Andersen said. "I think it was 57 yards. He is a phenomenal talent. They decided to put me out there for a shorter one and I got under it a little bit. It was right on target."

The Steelers (2-4) took over at the 42 with 25 seconds left and backup Charlie Batch completed a 25-yard pass over the middle to Ward to the Atlanta 33.

But the Steelers would never get to attempt a field goal. As the team was lining up for a spike on the next play, wide receiver Nate Washington moved in the slot for a false start penalty. Since the penalty came with under 10 seconds left, the Steelers were not allowed to run off another play.

"He (the official) called a flinch on Washington," Cowher said. "That was what was called. You take it from there. I am just telling you what was called. I don't feel like giving Park Avenue (the NFL league office) any of my money."

"It was tough not attempting a field goal at the end of regulation," said Batch, who was 8-of-13 for 195 yards and two touchdowns. "We lined up and then I snapped the ball to find out that we moved or something. That was a tough call in that situation because we knew that we were trying to spike the ball in order to have a chance to kick a field goal. The ref made the call and that's what he saw."

The Falcons won the coin toss for overtime and Vick directed an 11-play, 65-yard drive. The fastest quarterback in the league converted a 3rd-and-9 play by scrambling away from Polamalu, a two-time Pro Bowl safety, and flipping a 26-yard pass to Crumpler to the Pittsburgh 29.

"I have to give credit to our offensive line, our receivers and Alge Crumpler, they all did their jobs," said Vick, who threw for 232 yards and also ran for 40 yards. "When everyone does their jobs, that is when you are productive, execute and win football games."

Warrick Dunn then carried four times for 15 yards before Andersen drilled the winning kick.

"Game-winners are always fun and are a product of hard work of the whole team," Andersen said. "I just happened to be the last one out there to finish the job. It is so satisfying. This is a win that we battled for against the world champions and we came out of it with the win."

After the six lead changes and with Roethlisberger watching from the sideline, the Steelers tied the game at 38-38 when Batch threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Ward with 3:19 left in the fourth quarter.

It was the third touchdown catch for Ward, who starred at the University of Georgia and finished with eight receptions for 171 yards.

The game matched Vick against Roethlisberger for the first time.

Roethlisberger completed 16-of-22 passes for 238 yards and three touchdowns before he suffered a blow to the head from defensive end Chauncey Davis in the third quarter and was carted off the field.

"It was a good hit. I don't think that I put my helmet into it," Davis said. "I wasn't trying to do it. It was a good hit and there were two guys that hit him so I don't really know. Hopefully, it was a clean play."

Last February, Roethlisberger became the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl at age 23. Since then, Roethlisberger suffered facial fractures in a motorcycle accident in June and underwent an appendectomy on September 3, forcing him to miss the season opener.

The Steelers outgained the Falcons, 473-399, but lost three fumbles.

Steelers rookie Santonio Holmes fumbled a punt after being stipped by Omare Lowe and Adam Jennings recovered for the Falcons at the Pittsburgh 22. On the next play, Vick fired a 22-yard touchdown pass to Crumpler 1:48 into the game.

Jeff Reed kicked a 28-yard field goal with 8:46 left in the first quarter and an interception by Polamalu set up an 11-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to Ward with 2:22 remaining in the quarter, giving the Steelers a 10-7 lead.

Pittsburgh put together a nine-play, 88-yard drive which resulted in a one-yard scoring pass from Roethlisberger to tight end Heath Miller to increase the advantage to 17-7 with 9:56 left in the second quarter. Roethlisberger completed 5-of-5 for 77 yards on the drive.

But the momentum turned when Roethlisberger fumbled a snap and linebacker Michael Boley recovered the ball at the Pittsburgh 25. Six plays later, Vick hit Crumpler with a three-yard touchdown pass with 4:46 remaining in the second quarter.

Mora then called for an onside kick and rookie Jerious Norwood recovered for the Falcons at the 49. Vick hit Ashley Lelie twice for 24 yards before connecting with Michael Jenkins on a 17-yard scoring play, giving the Falcons a 21-17 lead with 2:04 left in the first half.

"We made some plays in the passing game," Jenkins said. "It's just about executing, giving Mike time and us making plays. You were able to see some of that today."

In Vick's 64th career game, it was his first three-touchdown passing game. He added the fourth late in the third quarter - a 31-yard TD to Crumpler.

Roethlisberger directed a six-play, 80-yard scoring drive just before the half. He hit Holmes with a 36-yard pass down the left sideline before hitting Washington with a 10-yard touchdown pass with 58 seconds left, giving the Steelers a 24-21 advantage at intermission.

Roethlisberger was injured with 7:40 left in the third quarter after being hit by Davis. He was on the field for several minutes before walking to the sideline. Roethlisberger was carted into the locker room, but returned to watch the rest of the game from the sideline.

After Roethlisberger was injured, Willie Parker fumbled after being hit by defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux, who also recovered the ball at the Pittsburgh 26. Four plays later, Dunn scored on a one-yard run to give Atlanta a 28-24 lead with 5:44 left in the third quarter.

The Steelers reclaimed the lead just 1:33 later on a 70-yard touchdown pass from Batch to Ward.

No one has shouted yet.
Be the first!