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NEW ORLEANS 23, ATLANTA 20 (OT)

Deuce Is Aces After Halftime

November 17, 2003|From Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — Once Deuce McAllister hit his stride, Atlanta's hopes for consecutive victories disappeared.

McAllister was held to 20 yards in the first half and had two fumbles, including a critical one in overtime, but he finished with 173 yards rushing and two touchdowns in the Saints' 23-20 overtime victory over the Falcons. His 23-yard run in overtime set up John Carney's 36-yard field goal.

"I knew I had no business fumbling that ball," McAllister said. "I should have got it done the first time. I'm obviously gratified that we won, but I'm definitely disappointed for the two fumbles."

New Orleans (5-5) fought back from a 20-3 first-half deficit to tie the score at 20. McAllister had touchdown runs of five and seven yards in the rally and Carney capped it with a 26-yard field goal.

The Saints got the first possession of overtime and McAllister ran 58 yards on the first play. But Juron Bolden slapped the ball out of McAllister's hands and into the end zone for a touchback, giving the Falcons first down on the 20-yard line.

Warrick Dunn, who had 162 yards in 23 carries, then rushed for 41 yards, but Jay Feely, who kicked two earlier field goals, missed a 54-yard attempt, giving the Saints another chance.

Joe Horn, who played little because of a sore left knee, caught a 14-yard pass that moved the Saints into Atlanta territory. Then McAllister, with both arms around the football, ran to the Atlanta 18.

McAllister, who has rushed for at least 100 yards in seven consecutive games, gained 83 yards in overtime. He also had nine receptions for 64 yards.

Atlanta (2-8), ranked last overall in defense, gave the Saints trouble in the first half, turning two interceptions into touchdowns, sacking Aaron Brooks seven times and keeping him under constant pressure. Brooks completed 21 of 37 passes for 228 yards.

"Our focus was on stopping Deuce," said Atlanta linebacker Keith Brooking. "The offense is predicated on him, so we tried to stop him and make Brooks beat us. We did a pretty good job ... until the overtime runs."

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