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Vick bounces back as Falcons top Redskins to stay alive in NFC

Dec 3, 2006 - 9:19 PM LANDOVER, Maryland (Ticker) -- One week after getting himself into trouble with his finger, Michael Vick rescued the Atlanta Falcons with his arm and legs.

Vick passed for two touchdowns to lead the Falcons to their first win in over a month, a 24-14 triumph over the Washington Redskins.

Rookie Jerious Norwood ran for a season-high 107 yards and a touchdown for Atlanta (6-6), which had not won since October 29 at Cincinnati. With the victory, the Falcons remained two games behind first-place New Orleans (8-4) in the NFC South Division.

"It feels good to finally get a win and be able to get ourselves back on track," Vick said. "Hopefully, we'll go down to Tampa next week and do the same things we did this week. ... We know we can beat anybody that we line up to play against."

The Falcons hit their low point after last week's 31-13 loss to the New Orleans Saints, their fourth consecutive defeat. Vick made headlines after the game by making an obscene hand gesture to a fan, prompting a $10,000 fine from the NFL.

"I don't know if it's true that Vick has taken a lot of heat," Atlanta coach Jim Mora Jr. said. "And if he has, he shouldn't have because he's played stellar, and I thought he played well again today."

The mercurial Vick completed 8-of-16 passes for 122 yards and running for 59 yards on 10 carries.

"It was important for the team to get this win," Vick said. "We really needed it, and it couldn't have come at a better time. We've been fighting for the last four or five weeks and things haven't really worked out for us. But to get a win today soothes everything."

Facing an 11-point deficit late in the first half, Atlanta drew within 14-10 when Vick found tight end Alge Crumpler in the back left corner of the end zone for a 16-yard TD with 2:20 left in the second quarter.

"At that point in the game, we really needed that," Vick said. "It came at a time that we really needed a big play and somebody to step up. He was able to do that, a big play at a great time. That kind of got us rolling. Things got started right there."

The Falcons' defense came up with a key play in the third quarter when defensive end Chauncey Davis intercepted Jason Campbell, who was under heavy pressure. After juggling the ball for several seconds, Davis finally secured possession and reeled off a 41-yard return to the Washington 25.

"That was a big play," Mora said. "That play right there put us in field position to get the lead. It's hard to discount that."

Vick gave the Falcons the lead for good two plays later with his second TD, a 22-yard strike to Michael Jenkins which made it 17-14 with 10:32 remaining in the third quarter.

"I told (Jenkins) before the play to make sure he ran his route to win, and he did," Vick said. "Nobody on the field knew what I was going to do but me and him, so it kind of works out that way."

"You need your playmakers to make plays," Mora added. "You need your superstars to be superstars. Some of those guys came through for us today, and that helped us win. It was good to see."

Atlanta padded its lead with 12:26 remaining when Norwood raced for a 69-yard TD run to push the advantage to 24-14.

"Without our offensive line, I wouldn't have been able to do any of it," Norwood said. "On that long run, Jenkins was downfield. Without his block, I wouldn't have been in the end zone."

Warrick Dunn ran for 87 yards on 21 carries while Jenkins had four catches for 43 yards for the Falcons, who accumulated 256 yards on the ground.

Campbell struggled in his third career start, completing 18-of-38 passes for 217 yards, one TD and two interceptions.

Ladell Betts rushed for a career-high 155 yards and a score on 28 carries for the Redskins (4-8), who have lost six of their last eight.

"I think our guys fought hard, but we didn't make enough plays," Washington coach Joe Gibbs said. "Throughout the game, we lost our momentum and quit making plays, which is what it really amounts to."

Washington started the game in impressive fashion, scoring touchdowns on its first two possessions.

Betts capped a nine-play drive with an eight-yard TD run midway through the first quarter, and Campbell hooked up with Santana Moss for a 42-yard scoring strike to give Washington a 14-0 cushion with 2:52 left in the opening period.

"We started off the game doing some real good things," Gibbs said. "Game plan-wise, it was what we like to do. Somewhere in there, we quit making plays and then we made a couple of bad ones, and they picked up momentum."

But Atlanta's defense stood strong from that point on, forcing three turnovers and five punts on Washington's final eight possessions.

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