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No Vick Becomes No Problem

October 14, 2002|From Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Doug Johnson made the Atlanta Falcons forget the absence of Michael Vick in a game the New York Giants would simply like to forget.

Starting in place of an injured Vick, Johnson ran for a touchdown and threw a game-deciding 14-yard pass to Brian Finneran with 8:06 left in leading the Falcons to a 17-10 victory over the Giants on Sunday.

"He played great," Finneran said of Johnson, the third-year quarterback out of Florida making only his third career start for the Falcons (2-3). "He knew it was his team this week and he ran it."

It wasn't great for the Giants (3-3). They gave away yet another game with three major fourth-quarter mistakes. They lost veteran defensive tackle Keith Hamilton for the season because of an Achilles' injury. Defensive end Michael Strahan also played sparingly after developing back spasms in the first quarter. The Giants' other defensive end, Kenny Holmes, didn't play because of elbow injury.

"We blew coverages. We let guys get open and we didn't cover well," Giant Coach Jim Fassel said after watching Johnson complete 19 of 25 passes for 257 yards. "Their quarterback played a heck of a game, but we made him look like he was ready for the Hall of Fame."

Said Johnson: "I had confidence before this game. What I got from this game was experience. It was a huge."

Falcon cornerback Juran Bolden prevented New York from taking the lead early in the fourth quarter with an interception at the Falcon six. Henry Jones forced a fumble that Kevin Mathis recovered at the Atlanta 15 with 3:22 left with New York threatening.

Two plays after Bolden intercepted Kerry Collins, Johnson connected with Shawn Jefferson on a 63-yard pass play that set up the go-ahead touchdown. Giant cornerback Will Allen went for an interception and missed.

Collins, 20 for 31 for 207 yards, including an 18-yard third-quarter touchdown pass to Ike Hilliard, moved the Giants into position to tie the game in the closing minutes.

On fourth and three, Collins connected with Ron Dixon over the middle despite having the ball snapped on the wrong count. Dixon carried the ball to the Atlanta 17, but fumbled and Mathis recovered.

"We felt like this was a game that we would win unless we shot ourselves in the foot, and we obviously did that," Giant guard Dusty Zeigler said.

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