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Ironhead Proves His Mettle in 34-13 Victory : NFC: Falcon running back, who has lost 60 pounds in a year, rushes for 87 yards and two touchdowns against Buccaneers.

October 10, 1994|From Associated Press

ATLANTA — Craig (Ironhead) Heyward gave the Atlanta Falcons' coaching staff just what they expected when he went into the starting lineup for the first time this season.

"He's a load in there," Coach June Jones said after watching Heyward pound out 87 yards and two touchdowns on short runs in a 34-13 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

"He gives them something to think about when he breaks into the secondary," Jones said. "I noticed some guys were trying to nail him on the ankles."

Heyward, who weighed 328 pounds last year and was fighting a drinking problem, has quit using alcohol and dropped to 265 pounds.

"It was an OK day, but I think there are things I can get better at," Heyward said. "My philosophy about playing is as long as I'm out there, I'm happy. Whatever I can do out there to help us be a better team, I'm all for it."

Vinnie Clark also contributed to the Falcons' third victory in a row, returning interceptions 74 and 21 yards to set up 10 points.

The victory left the Falcons (4-2) tied with San Francisco for the NFC West lead. The two teams meet in Atlanta next Sunday.

Jeff George threw two touchdowns passes to offset two interceptions and a lost fumble, and Atlanta took a 24-0 lead late in the first half.

Clark's interceptions helped the Falcons become the latest team to shut down Tampa Bay (2-4). The Buccaneers' offense has scored only seven touchdowns this season.

Clark set up a touchdown and a field goal with his interceptions. His 74-yard return was the seventh-longest in Falcons' history.

George threw touchdown passes of 36 yards to Andre Rison in the first quarter and 32 yards to Terance Mathis in the fourth.

Heyward, who also caught three passes for 37 yards, opened the scoring with a one-yard run 5:01 into the game, ending a 74-yard drive. The key play was a pass interference call on ex-Falcon Charles Dimry in the end zone, a 32-yard penalty that gave Atlanta a first down on the one.

Heyward's other touchdown, on a five-yard run, made it 24-0 with 1:04 left in the half. The score followed Clark's 21-yard interception return of rookie Trent Dilfer's fluttering pass.

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