Final

Patriots 23

(0-1, 0-1 away)

Falcons 26

(1-0, 1-0 home)

Coverage: CBS

8:00 PM ET, August 11, 2006

Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA 

1 2 3 4 T
NE 3 3 7 1023
ATL 10 3 10 326

Falcons get kick out of Koenen to beat Patriots

ATLANTA (AP) -- The Atlanta Falcons have been looking far and wide for a young kicker who won't count too much against the salary cap.

They may have found him -- and he's already on the payroll.

Michael Koenen, who handled the punting and kickoff duties as a rookie last season, appears ready to take on another job after booting four long field goals Friday night, including a 40-yarder as time ran out for a 26-23 preseason victory over the New England Patriots.

Coach Jim Mora said he doesn't want to overwork Koenen, but he had to be impressed with the youngster's performance. The Falcons already dumped two kickers over the summer and two more in training camp, leaving Koenen and Tony Yelk.

Yelk booted an extra point and handled three kickoffs, but Koenen did the rest. He also kicked field goals of 44, 45 and 50 yards, averaged 44 yards on four punts and kicked off three times.

"I have reservations about it," Mora said. "I can't say he won the job. I liked what I saw tonight, but I'm concerned about having a guy do all three jobs. I'll take another week or so to see how he is, see how he feels. The last thing I want to do is wear him out. But with his ability to affect the game, like he did tonight, it's something we have to think long and hard about."

If Koenen is able to handle triple-duty this season, it would give the Falcons an extra roster spot and free up more cap room to bring in a player who can bulk up the interior of the defensive line. Chad Lavalais, last year's starter at nose tackle, has fallen out of favor and played sparingly in the preseason opener.

"I've got to take care of my body," Koenen said. "I'm just as worried about it as they are. But if it happens, awesome."

Rookie quarterback D.J. Shockley, who grew up in suburban Atlanta and played for the Georgia Bulldogs, thrilled the home fans with an impressive debut in the fourth quarter.

Cheered on with barks from fans who remember him leading Georgia to the Southeastern Conference title last season, Shockley guided the Falcons on a 14-play, 56-yard drive in the final 2:06. The biggest play was a 14-yard pass to Kevin Youngblood, who made a leaping catch over the middle. After a spike and a short run, Koenen trotted on the field and kicked the winning field goal.

Shockley completed 4 of 10 passes for 40 yards, his percentage hurt by a couple of clock-stopping spikes on the final drive. He also ran twice for 12 yards.

"I wondered if I would be nervous," Shockley said. "I was pleased."

Another Falcons rookie got off to a rousing start. Third-round pick Jerious Norwood turned two short passes into long gains, fitting right in with a team that already has Warrick Dunn and T.J. Duckett.

Norwood rambled 37 yards down the right sideline after hauling in a pass from No. 2 quarterback Matt Schaub. Then, with the third quarter winding down, he grabbed a pass from Bryan Randall and went 34 yards for a touchdown, making a great move to lose one defender and then turning on the speed.

"Whatever it takes," Norwood said. "If I have to run over somebody, I'll do that. If I have to juke somebody, I'll do that."

Michael Vick and Tom Brady played to a draw.

Vick, who broke his leg in a 2003 preseason game, ran only one series for the Falcons. He completed 3 of 4 passes for 26 yards and broke off a 16-yard run that put Atlanta in position for Koenen's first field goal.

Brady also played one series, completing three straight passes for 24 yards before an incompletion at the Atlanta 7. The Patriots got the first of three field goals. Martin Gramatica, seeking to replace Adam Vinatieri, made kicks of 26 and 30 yards. The other candidate, Stephen Gostowski, made a 34-yarder.

Matt Cassel went the rest of the way at quarterback for New England, trying to show he's ready to be Brady's backup. Cassel was the Patriots' third-stringer last season and he barely played at Southern California, where he was stuck behind Heisman Trophy winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinert.

Cassel was stripped of the ball on his first possession, but also threw a 57-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Cobbs.

In the fourth quarter, Cassel directed drives of 80 and 77 yards that helped the Patriots overcome a 10-point deficit. He finished 13 of 26 for 229 yards.

"I need a play a lot better," Cassel said. "I left a lot of throws out there."

Game notes


The Patriots didn't have many of their biggest stars. LB Tedy Bruschi is expected to miss the entire preseason and maybe longer after undergoing wrist surgery. DL Richard Seymour, S Rodney Harrison and TE Daniel Graham are nursing injuries. WR Deion Branch is holding out for a new contract. ... Atlanta LB Keith Brooking went out in the first quarter with a sprained right ankle. He didn't return.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Scoring Summary

FOURTH QUARTERNEATL
atlFG10:04Michael Koenen 36 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 11 plays, 50 yds, 4:51
2326
FIRST QUARTERNEATL
neFG2:56Martin Gramatica 17 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 13 plays, 72 yds, 6:59
33
SECOND QUARTERNEATL
atlTD0:46Michael Jenkins, 21 yd pass from Matt Schaub (Michael Koenen kick is good)
Drive info: 1 plays, 21 yds, 0:00
2326
SECOND QUARTERNEATL
neFG12:42Stephen Gostkowski 26 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 7 plays, 64 yds, 12:06
610
FOURTH QUARTERNEATL
atlFG0:41Michael Koenen 42 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 10 plays, 60 yds, 1:38
2326
atlFG4:46Michael Koenen 38 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 10 plays, 52 yds, 4:04
2326
THIRD QUARTERNEATL
neTD3:06Patrick Cobbs, 57 yd pass from Matt Cassel (Stephen Gostkowski kick is good)
Drive info: 5 plays, 72 yds, 1:29
1316
atlTD0:12Jerious Norwood, 34 yd pass (Adam Jennings kick is good)
Drive info: 5 plays, 72 yds, 2:39
2326
neTD10:42Heath Evans, 1 yd run (Martin Gramatica kick is good)
Drive info: 8 plays, 77 yds, 4:18
2023
neFG2:44Martin Gramatica 22 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 17 plays, 80 yds, 5:27
2323
atlFG0:04Michael Koenen 32 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 14 plays, 56 yds, 2:30
2326