<
>

Brooks throws for 352 yards, 3 TDs

ATLANTA (AP) -- Arthur Blank has already written one letter of
apology. It might be time to fire off another one.

Question on the Saints: Should these past two blowouts make us believe they've turned it around?
No, not until this team beats a good team. Sure, they were playing their division rival this week, but the Falcons are still a very bad team. Two victories over two bad teams are to be expected, not applauded. The Saints haven't gotten a victory against a good team this season. Until then, I'm not convinced.

Question on the Falcons: Do you get the sense Atlanta has a "woe is me" attitude with Vick out?
This team has spent too much time focusing on what they could do with Vick and not enough time focusing on what they need to do now. They aren't playing good defense and their offense has been woeful. With the way they're playing, it's going to take more than Vick for this team to win games.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

For the second time in six days, Blank's Atlanta Falcons were
thoroughly humiliated, this time losing to the New Orleans Saints
45-17 on Sunday.

Aaron Brooks threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns, Deuce
McAllister scored twice and the Saints finished with 507 yards,
doing pretty much anything they wanted.

"I'm very, very disappointed in our performance," said Blank,
the Falcons' second-year owner. "You want to have a team the fans
can be proud of. Obviously, this team is not playing well."

On Monday night, the Falcons (1-6) were blown out 36-0 by St.
Louis -- a performance that prompted Blank to send a letter to the
president of ABC.

"I told him I was sorry we didn't do a better job," Blank
said. "When you're on a platform like Monday Night Football, you
want to put a game on. You want a team that's competitive."

Competitive? That's not the Falcons. They fell behind to the
Saints 35-14 at the half -- giving up a staggering 369 yards in the
first two quarters.

New Orleans (3-4) won its second in a row, though it's hard to
tell if the Saints turned a corner with their dominating
performance. Brooks was 23 of 30 passing. McAllister ran for 116
yards. Joe Horn caught eight passes for 133 yards, including a
32-yard touchdown.

"It's a lot better when you're up by a large margin," Brooks
said. "Guys can have fun and you get more confident, almost
bordering on cockiness."

Atlanta has lost six in a row since a season-opening victory at
Dallas, a game that seems about a million years ago. And the
Falcons aren't just losing -- they're getting embarrassed. During
the losing streak, they have surrendered a staggering 34.5 points a
game.

With Vick still recovering from a broken leg, the Falcons gave
third-string quarterback Kurt Kittner his first pro start. Warrick
Dunn broke off a 69-yard touchdown run on the second play from
scrimmage, providing a fleeting bit of hope for Atlanta.

Then the defense had to take the field.

On New Orleans' third play, Brooks hooked up with Donte
Stallworth on a simple slant over the middle. Cornerback Tyrone
Williams gave up on the play, Stallworth broke a tackle and ran
straight down the middle of the field for his own 69-yard
touchdown.

"The game was really dictated to us," Brooks said. "We had to
step up our game and we did. We made a lot of big plays."

Williams didn't play another down. Shortly afterward, Falcons
Pro Bowl linebacker Keith Brooking trudged to the locker room with
several small fractures in his back. He didn't return, either.

The score was 14-all at the end of the first quarter, but the
Saints blew it open in the second against the Falcons' depleted,
dispirited defense.

McAllister ran 4 yards for a touchdown. Boo Williams hauled in a
12-yard scoring pass. And McAllister finished things off by soaring
across the goal line for a 10-yard TD with 30 seconds left in the
half.

The Falcons trotted off the field to massive boos. Many of the
fans headed for the exits -- and didn't come back. In the final,
grim minutes, only a few thousand fans -- most cheering for the
Saints -- were left in the stands.

Falcons coach Dan Reeves has been stuck on 199 career victories
since the win over Dallas. The way things are going, it's
reasonable to ask how much longer Blank will stick with his
venerable coach.

Publicly, at least, Blank insists that he's not planning any
changes.

"Dan has been in a lot of bad places before in his career, and
he's always come back," the owner said. "He's experienced. He
knows what he has to do to win. I have confidence in this staff."

Atlanta is off next week, providing two long weeks to mull how
things have gone so bad for a team that made the second round of
the playoffs a season ago.

"We had all those expectations, all that buzz," offensive
tackle Bob Whitfield said. "Now you see it waning. You see the
empty seats. You hear the booing. You look at the scoreboard and
you're getting beat. It's the lowest of the low."

Kittner looked like a third-stringer, completing just 9-of-29
for 115 yards. He did throw his first career touchdown, an
18-yarder to Brian Finneran.

The Saints backed off in the second half, but still managed one
last touchdown drive. Former No. 1 pick Ki-Jana Carter ran it in
from the 1 for his first score since Dec. 30, 2001.

Game notes
Brooking's injury is similar to the one that knocked out
Minnesota quarterback Daunte Culpepper for three weeks. ...
Stallworth injured a quadriceps and didn't return, while DT Grady
Jackson was able to keep playing despite possible ligament damage
to a thumb. ... Horn was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct when
he mimicked shooting a gun after scoring his touchdown. "I'm sure
the league will have something to say to him," coach Jim Haslett
said. "If he wants to dance a little, that's fine. But you can't
be pulling out six-shooters or guns on the field."