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Brees, Saints overcome Vick's big rushing day

Nov 26, 2006 - 9:25 PM ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Drew Brees did more damage with his arm than Michael Vick did with his legs.

Brees passed for 349 yards and two touchdowns as the New Orleans Saints posted a 31-13 victory over the fading Atlanta Falcons in a matchup of NFC South rivals.

The Saints (7-4) avoided a third straight loss and moved ahead of Carolina (6-5) into sole possession of first place.

"I think that you want to have excitement and confidence, but then again we are 7-4 and we still have a tough stretch ahead of us," Brees said. "The big thing is to take it one game at a time."

Vick nearly came within eight yards of breaking his own NFL record for rushing yards by a quarterback as he finished with 166 on 12 carries. But he struggled through the air, completing just 9-of-24 passes for 84 yards.

Brees, who completed 21-of-30 passes, had no such problems through the air en route to his fifth straight 300-yard game. His 1,954 passing yards the last five games are the most in the NFL in that span since 1970.

"When we don't commit turnovers, we have a great chance to win games," Brees said.

Brees threw a 76-yard touchdown to Devery Henderson on the Saints' third offensive play. On the final play of the first half, he found Terrance Cooper on 48-yard TD on a "Hail Mary" to give the Saints a 21-6 lead.

"I just jumped up and tried to catch it," Copper said. "It was a good throw by Drew. It just fell in my hands."

"Out of all the things that happened in this game, that may have been the thing that took the life out of this football team," Vick said.

Vick also showed his frustration at the end of the game, making an obscene hand gesture toward a fan as the Falcons were leaving the field.

"First and foremost, I would like to apologize for my inappropriate actions with fans today," Vick said in a statement. "I was frustrated and upset at how the game was going for my team, and that frustration came out the wrong way. That's not what I'm about. That's not what the Atlanta Falcons are about. I simply lost my cool in the heat of the moment. I apologize and look forward to putting this incident behind me.

Deuce McAllister added 71 rushing yards and two touchdowns for the Saints, who rolled up 427 total yards. His nine-yard TD with 2:23 remaining capped the scoring.

"Obviously, it was big for us because we had just lost two in a row," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "Those two things. It was a win on the road, division opponent. That is really what it means."

Without rookie wide receiver Marques Colston due to a sprained ankle, the Saints received major production from Henderson, who had four catches for 158 yards.

The Falcons (5-6) were swept in the season series by the Saints and dropped their fourth straight game following a 5-2 start.

"If you are not executing, you are not good," Falcons coach Jim Mora Jr. said. "Right now we are struggling and I told those guys to hang in there, keep fighting, keep trying to get better and you never know what can happen."

After Brees' TD to end the first half, the Falcons tried to battle back, pulling within 21-13 on Warrick Dunn's one-yard touchdown run with 8:04 left in the third quarter.

Dunn rushed for 54 yards on 13 carries.

John Carney's 25-yard field goal with 5:48 remaining in the fourth quarter capped a 14-play, 80-yard drive and gave the Saints a 24-13 lead.

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