Defense rules in error-filled victory

ATLANTA (AP) -- It took nearly 58 minutes for Michael Vick to
break loose.

Fortunately for the Atlanta Falcons, the defense showed up right
from the start.

Forcing Arizona quarterback Josh McCown into three fumbles, the
Falcons managed to beat the Cardinals 6-3 Sunday on a pair of field
goals by Jay Feely. Atlanta is 3-0 for the first time since 1986.

"There's going to be games where the defense carries us," said
Warrick Dunn, who rushed for 117 yards. "They won this game."

It wasn't pretty. There were nine fumbles (seven resulting in
turnovers), five calls that had to be reviewed by the referee (two
were overturned) and not one touchdown despite countless
opportunities by both teams.

The Cardinals (0-3) lost three fumbles inside the Falcons 20.

"You can't really have the words to describe your
disappointment when you lose a game and fumble that many times,"
said first-year Arizona coach Dennis Green, whose team has managed
just 25 points and two touchdowns this season.

Using five-man fronts and mixing up their coverages, the
Cardinals did a good job of containing Vick, who accounted for 288
yards rushing and passing in a victory over St. Louis the previous

He was sacked five times, lost two fumbles, threw an
interception and completed just 10-of-20 passes for 115 yards.

"I know Denny Green said he had the plan to stop us, but we
didn't expect that," Vick said. "It was frustrating. But I told
my teammates that we've got to make a play, we've got to make a big

Finally, he did. Vick ran for 58 yards on a bootleg -- the
longest carry of his career -- to seal the victory with just over
two minutes remaining.

"I was thinking about getting the first down and getting out of
bounds," he said. "But then I was thinking about the type of game
I was having and decided I can make something happen. I wanted to

Otherwise, Atlanta did its best to give the game away in the
fourth quarter.

Vick threw a pass that was intercepted by Adrian Wilson and
returned to the Falcons 18, but the Cardinals had to settle for
Neil Rackers' 30-yard field goal with 9:24 remaining.

Dunn fumbled at the Atlanta 19 with 3:19 remaining, giving the
Cardinals a chance to at least kick a tying field goal. Of course,
they promptly gave the ball right back.

On a reverse, receiver Karl Williams got to the 7 but the ball
was jarred loose by Chris Draft. Bryan Scott recovered for the
Falcons with 2:26 remaining.

The Falcons teed off on one of the NFL's most inept offenses.
Rod Coleman forced McCown's first two fumbles and Brady Smith
finished off the Arizona quarterback with a blindside hit that led
to another turnover early in the fourth quarter.

That was the last play for McCown. Shaun King finished up, but
couldn't rally the Cardinals.

"I understood the situation," said McCown, who was 20-of-26
for 198 yards but took five sacks and numerous big hits. "I put
the ball on the ground three times."

The Falcons had six sacks, half of them by Patrick Kerney in a
career-best performance.

"When (McCown) was doing more than three-step drops, we were
putting some pretty heavy pops on him," Kerney said. "He was
looking pretty glassy eyed. That had an effect on him."

On the Falcons' first possession, Dunn got loose for a 60-yard
run, but the offense bogged down inside the 10 and settled for
Feely's 25-yard field goal.

A 30-yard punt return by Allen Rossum set up Feely's second
field goal, a 23-yarder less than three minutes into the second
period to cap Atlanta's scoring.

The Falcons managed just 283 yards against the Cardinals, who
gave up an average of 412.5 in their first two games -- last in the

"We had a hard time," tight end Alge Crumpler said. "But I
don't care. We won the ball game."

Arizona hasn't lost its first three games since 1996, but this
season is shaping up like most others for this team. The Cardinals
have only one winning year since 1985.

The Falcons managed to win with the fewest number of points in a
victory, surpassing a 7-0 triumph at San Francisco in 1997.

"Every win is important," Dunn said. "You've got to win these
type of games to keep going as a team. We learned a lot from
this game. Never underestimate anyone."

Game notes
The Falcons are 3-0 for only the third time in their
39-year history. They hope to do better than the other two teams in
this position, which both finished with losing records. ... Arizona
DT Ross Kolodziej sprained an ankle in the first half and didn't
return. ... Atlanta has won five in a row going back to last

NFL News