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Falcons Are Alive and Kicking

October 11, 1999|From Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — Morten Andersen kicked two field goals in the fourth quarter as the Atlanta Falcons rallied for a 20-17 victory Sunday over the New Orleans Saints--their first win of the season.

"It feels good to get back on track a little bit and hit the ball the way I know I can hit it," said Andersen, who had missed four of six field-goal attempts coming into the game. "It was good medicine for me and certainly the win was great medicine for the team."

Andersen kicked a 36-yard field goal to tie the score, 17-17, early in the fourth quarter, then hit a 44-yarder with about six minutes left to give Atlanta (1-4) a lead it wouldn't give up. He holds the NFL record for game-winning kicks with 26.

With the victory, their ninth in a row against the Saints (1-3), the Falcons avoided matching the worst start by a Super Bowl team. The 1987 New York Giants went 0-5, but that came during a strike season, and three of the losses were with replacement players.

"It feels a whole lot better when you win, that's for sure," Falcon quarterback Tony Graziani said. "I'm on cloud nine."

Not that Atlanta has regained its Super Bowl form. Beating New Orleans, which has one of the worst offenses in the NFL, was a struggle because of the Saint defense and the Falcons' own blunders.

Atlanta, which trailed, 17-7, at halftime, gained only 251 yards while getting nine penalties for 68 yards, fumbling three times, losing two, and converting on three of 12 third downs.

Graziani, filling in for the injured Chris Chandler, completed 11 of 20 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown. He also was sacked three times.

The Falcons have won five of their last six in the Superdome.

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