Final

Jaguars 14

(5-11, 0-8 away)

Falcons 21

(5-11, 2-6 home)

1:00 PM ET, December 28, 2003

 

1 2 3 4 T
JAX 7 0 7 014
ATL 14 7 0 021

ATLANTA 21, JACKSONVILLE 14

ATLANTA (AP) -- The Atlanta Falcons got a lift from the return of Michael Vick and gave their next coach plenty of hope for the future.

Just who that will be remains to be seen.

Vick threw two touchdown passes, including a 44-yarder to Peerless Price on Atlanta's first fleaflicker of the season, and the Falcons held off the Jacksonville Jaguars 21-14 Sunday.

Atlanta (5-11) improved to 3-1 since Vick returned to the starting lineup, including victories over division-leader Carolina and Tampa Bay. After breaking his leg in the preseason, he missed the first 10 games, then played sparingly in a loss to the Houston Texans.

Vick finished 12-of-22 for 180 yards and one interception, and ran seven times for 29 yards.

"Changes are inevitable," he said. "That's just the reality of the business. Guys know that and accept that. We may look a little different, but I don't think we'll be too different."

Dan Reeves was fired as coach after the Falcons beat the Panthers, and Wade Phillips led the team for the final three games.

"There is a great core group here that can win," Phillips said. "I really believe that. I think they believe that now, too."

Team owner Arthur Blank has said Phillips would be considered for the job, and the Falcons received permission Sunday to interview San Francisco defensive coordinator Jim Mora.

They also are expected to seek permission to talk to New England defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, and LSU coach Nick Saban and St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator Lovie Smith also are considered strong candidates.

"I'll tell you this right now," linebacker Keith Brooking. "I've got a job to do for sure, and I'm not into hiring coaches and things like that, but they don't have to go far to find our next head coach. He's right here."

Fred Taylor rushed for 121 yards for the Jaguars (5-11), who lost for only the second time in their final five games. Rookie Byron Leftwich was 19-of-32 for 167 yards, including a 15-yard TD to Troy Edwards in the first quarter.

Vick's poor decision came early in the fourth quarter, with the Falcons leading 21-14. They faced third-and-3 from Jacksonville's 31, inside the range of kicker Jay Feely.

With a blitz coming, Vick ran backward to try to escape, but defensive tackle Marcus Stroud didn't let him.

Vick flung the ball toward the sideline just as he was hit by Stroud, and the pass fluttered in the air before linebacker Akin Ayodele snared it, Vick's third interception of the year.

The Jaguars drove 50 yards in nine plays, then had fourth-and-5 from the 12. Coach Jack Del Rio first sent out kicker Seth Marler, then called timeout and turned to Leftwich and the offense.

Leftwich only came out to try to draw the Falcons offside, and it appeared to work when nose tackle Ellis Johnson and Brooking jumped across the line. The officials held a brief discussion and called a false start on Leftwich, forcing Jacksonville back 5 yards and sending Marler back out for a 30-yard field goal.

But Atlanta's Juran Bolden blocked the kick and the Falcons kept their lead.

The Jaguars had one more chance at a tie, driving from their 12 to the Atlanta 14 in the final four minutes. With 32 seconds left, on fourth-and-2, Leftwich's pass to George Wrighster was incomplete, and Atlanta ran out the clock.

"We gave ourselves the opportunity to come back and get in the game," Del Rio said. "But in the end, we fell a little short."

Vick's touchdown pass to Price on the fleaflicker gave the Falcons a 14-7 lead late in the first quarter. T.J. Duckett took a handoff and then pitched the ball back to Vick, who led Price beautifully with the 44-yard scoring pass.

Price ran way from safety Deke Cooper to catch Vick's pass at the goal line.

With 27 seconds left in the first half, Vick threw a 38-yard pass to Brian Finneran, who outjumped cornerback Fernando Bryant to catch the ball at the 5.

Two plays later, Justin Griffith caught a 1-yard pass from Vick to give Atlanta a 21-7 lead at the half.< ^Notes: The Falcons set a team record by allowing 6,108 yards this season. ... Duckett scored his 11th touchdown of the season, third best in team history, and finished with 96 yards rushing. ... The Jaguars finished winless on the road for the first time in their history. ... Taylor finished the season with 1,572 yards on 355 carries, both team records.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERJAXATL
atlTD0:49Touchdown
Drive info: 6 plays, 75 yds, 2:06
713
THIRD QUARTERJAXATL
jaxTD3:04LaBrandon Toefield, 4 yd run
Drive info: 7 plays, 42 yds, 2:37
1321
FIRST QUARTERJAXATL
jaxTD3:56Touchdown
Drive info: 9 plays, 62 yds, 4:00
67
atl0:49
Drive info: 6 plays, 75 yds, 2:06
714
THIRD QUARTERJAXATL
jax3:04
Drive info: 7 plays, 42 yds, 2:37
1421
FIRST QUARTERJAXATL
jax3:56
Drive info: 9 plays, 62 yds, 4:00
77
atlTD8:50T.J. Duckett, 2 yd run
Drive info: 10 plays, 55 yds, 3:55
06
atl8:50
Drive info: 10 plays, 55 yds, 3:55
07
SECOND QUARTERJAXATL
atlTD0:11Touchdown
Drive info: 11 plays, 80 yds, 3:46
720
atl0:11
Drive info: 11 plays, 80 yds, 3:46
721