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In the Wild, Falcons Come Out on Top

September 18, 2000|From Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Atlanta's latest victory is more likely to end up in the football follies than a highlight reel.

The Falcons, who had only one takeaway in their first two games, had two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and an unusual safety in a 15-10 victory over Carolina on Sunday.

The Falcons (2-1) weren't perfect either, losing two of three fumbles and missing two field-goal attempts while failing to capitalize on most of Carolina's miscues.

"Do you think this will be on the bloopers reel?" asked Atlanta running back Jamal Anderson, who was part of one of the strangest blunders in the game.

With the Falcons trying to run out the clock with just more than two minutes to play, Anderson broke free for a 42-yard run up the left sideline. As he closed in on the end zone, Doug Evans knocked the ball out of his hands, recovered it and stepped into the end zone before rolling out.

The officials called it a safety, ruling that both of Evans' feet came down inbounds before he entered the end zone. That gave the Falcons a 15-10 lead with 2:12 left.

The Panthers (1-2) challenged the ruling, and replays showed Evans' second foot landed on the goal line. But the ruling stood based on the perception that momentum carried Evans into the end zone.

Atlanta fielded Carolina's free kick and ran out the clock for the victory, ruining Carolina's bid to move over the .500 mark for the first time since 1997.

Two minutes earlier, Ashley Ambrose returned Steve Beuerlein's interception 37 yards to set up Morten Andersen's second field goal of the game, a 27-yarder that sealed the victory.

The Panthers turned the ball over for the fourth time on the following possession when Ronnie Bradford stripped Tshimanga Biakabutuka after a 37-yard gain on a pass from Beuerlein.

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