for this game

Vick passes for three TDs, Falcons edge Bengals

Oct 29, 2006 - 9:52 PM CINCINNATI (Ticker) -- Chad Johnson and DeAngelo Hall did plenty of talking. But it was Michael Vick who did the walking.

Vick passed for 291 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another 55 yards to lead the Atlanta Falcons to a 29-27 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in an interconference contest.

Johnson, the Bengals' three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, and Hall, the Falcons' best cover cornerback, dominated the headlines this week. Johnson was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, declared that he was changing his name to "Ocho Cinco" and guaranteed two touchdowns for this contest against Hall and the Falcons.

But it was the quarterbacks - Vick and Carson Palmer - who decided this game.

The difference between the two No. 1 overall picks - Vick in 2001 and Palmer in 2003 - was one more touchdown pass by Vick along with his electrifying ability to escape pressure and run.

"I believe I can make plays in the passing game," Vick said. "Our receivers gave us opportunities and I was able to put the ball where I wanted to. I felt all along that I could do this and I'm happy to get the opportunity."

Vick was nearly flawless, completing 20-of-28 passes with no turnovers. Palmer was 24-of-36 for 266 yards and two touchdowns.

"He (Vick) is fun to watch. He's a Reggie Bush-type player," Palmer said. "He's one of the few guys in this league you'd really pay to go and watch play. He threw the ball great and made plays with his feet when he needed to."

In the last two weeks, Vick has passed for seven touchdowns in leading the Falcons (5-2) to back-to-back wins over the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers and the defending AFC North champion Bengals.

Atlanta is tied with New Orleans for first place in the NFC South. The Bengals (4-3) slipped a game behind first-place Baltimore in the AFC North.

Johnson did get a chance to dance in the end zone once after catching a 12-yard touchdown pass with 7:13 left in the second quarter, giving the Bengals a 14-6 lead. But the receiver with the mohawk finished with six catches for 78 yards and served as merely a warmup act to Vick.

"My goal wasn't to shut Chad out, intercept a pass or keep him out of the end zone," Hall said. "My goal was to win. Chad was putting on a show. He's an entertainer and he's good at what he does. But I didn't buy into it. It's not about me versus Chad."

Johnson caught a screen from Palmer at the 10 and made a move past cornerback Jason Webster before racing into the end zone for only his second touchdown of the season.

Johnson's partner T.J. Houshmanzadeh had six receptions for 70 yards.

Vick fired a 16-yard touchdown pass to tight end Alge Crumpler with 1:54 left in the second quarter to give the Falcons a 14-13 lead.

"I had single coverage with a safety," said Crumpler, who finished with four catches for 72 yards. "Anytime I get single coverage it makes me smile."

Palmer hit Houshmandzadeh with passes of 17 and 18 yards, respectively, to set up a 51-yard field goal by Shayne Graham with 15 seconds remaining in the half.

Vick showed his astounding athletic ability when he eluded a pass rush, rolled left and lobbed a 26-yard touchdown pass to Michael Jenkins with 9:55 left in the third quarter to give the Falcons a 20-17 advantage.

Graham tied the game with a 26-yard field goal with 4:34 remaining in the third quarter.

Vick gave the Falcons the lead for good with an eight-yard scoring toss to fullback Justin Griffith with 2:21 left in the third quarter. Matt Schaub mishandled a low snap on the extra-point attempt.

Morten Andersen kicked his third field goal of the game with 7:42 remaining in the fourth quarter to increase the lead to 29-20.

Vick kept the drive alive by converting a pair of key third-down plays. He connected with Roddy White on a 21-yard play in 3rd-and-16 and found White again on 3rd-and-5 with a 13-yard strike.

"They were able to keep some drives alive with some third downs and we weren't," Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis said. "That makes a big difference in a close football game."

Palmer connected with Chris Henry on a 55-yard touchdown pass to pull the Bengals within 29-27 with 3:41 left.

Cincinnati got the ball back with just 19 seconds left at its own 17. Palmer fumbled after being sacked by end Patrick Kerney and linebacker Michael Boley recovered for the Falcons.

"It's important that you get into barnburners and stick with it and win it," Falcons coach Jim Mora Jr. said. "You grow from it."

Vick took a knee for the final play of the game. It may as well have been a courtesy bow for his performance.

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