Cardinals 10

(1-3, 0-2 away)

Falcons 32

(3-1, 2-0 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, October 1, 2006

Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA 

1 2 3 4 T
ARI 3 7 0 010
ATL 6 6 10 1032

Top Performers

Passing: M. Vick (ATL) - 153 YDS, 1 INT

Rushing: J. Norwood (ATL) - 6 CAR, 106 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: L. Fitzgerald (ARI) - 4 REC, 71 YDS

Falcons defense dominates again in win over Cardinals

ATLANTA (AP) -- Just imagine how good the Atlanta Falcons will be on defense when John Abraham returns.

John Clayton's blog
It should be no surprise Dennis Green decided to make Matt Leinart his starting quarterback beginning next Sunday. Despite having one of the most dangerous three-receiver sets in football, Arizona isn't scoring points. The Cardinals are at a crossroads, and though that's a lot to put on a rookie quarterback's shoulders, Green pretty much had no choice but to go to Leinart.

• More from Clayton's blog Insider

For the third time in four games, the Atlanta defense didn't allow a touchdown. In fact, cornerback DeAngelo Hall scored one of his own Sunday with a 36-yard interception return, and the Falcons cruised past the Arizona Cardinals 32-10.

The Michael Vick-led offense is having trouble getting into the end zone once it gets close -- not that it matters the way the defenders are playing. They have allowed only one touchdown all season, even though Abraham went down in Week 1 with a groin injury and hasn't played since.

"Part of being in the NFL is playing without guys throughout the season," said Patrick Kerney, who tied a career high with three sacks. "We've got so many veterans at all three levels -- along the line, linebacker and defensive back. Everyone is stepping up. Maybe we don't have many guys who are explosive as John, but we're not giving up any big plays."

Scouts Inc.'s take ...
QB Michael Vick (right) got back on track as the Falcons' spread option attack (262 yards rushing) kept the Cardinals off-balance.

Vick overcame a 99-yard interception return by SS Adrian Wilson and did a better job using his supporting cast in the passing game by attacking a vulnerable Cardinals secondary. However, the Falcons continue to struggle in the red zone.

Atlanta stuffed the Cardinals' rushing game, attacking with multiple four-man fronts and confusing Arizona's blocking patterns. The Falcons pressured QB Kurt Warner with their additional blitzers and four-man rushes as Warner, and the Cardinals continue to turn the ball over in crucial situations in the second half.

Atlanta CB DeAngelo Hall's 37-yard interception for a touchdown was one of the turning points in the second half. In the fourth quarter, Warner was replaced by rookie QB Matt Leinart, who will be the starter next week against Kansas City.

Arizona did. Jerious Norwood scored on a 78-yard run, the longest in Falcons' history, while 46-year-old Morten Andersen equaled a career high with five field goals.

Arizona's lone TD was a 99-yard interception return by Adrian Wilson, the longest in that franchise's history. Kurt Warner had another miserable game in Arizona's third straight loss and was promptly demoted to backup quarterback.

Coach Dennis Green announced that rookie Matt Leinart will start next week against Kansas City.

"I'm going to do whatever I can to help him," said Warner, who lost to the Falcons for the first time in seven career starts. "Maybe he can turn things around. Obviously, I was disappointed and frustrated. I wasn't making enough plays to help us win."

Warner was 11-of-20 for 128 yards with an interception and two fumbles. Edgerrin James was held to 41 yards on 20 carries as the Cardinals managed just 31 yards on the ground.

Most 100-yard rushing games
by a quarterback
1. Michael Vick7
2. Billy Kilmer 4
3. Donovan McNabb 3
-- Tobin Rote 3
-- Bobby Douglass 3
-- Randall Cunningham 3

Leinart took over with 13 minutes remaining and got off to a rough start. On the rookie's second play, Grady Jackson blew right by the line to knock the ball away from the quarterback before he could even hand off on a running play.

Rod Coleman recovered for the Falcons to set up Andersen's final kick, a 28-yarder that matched his career high for field goals in a game. The second-oldest player in NFL history also connected from 34, 40, 36 and 26 yards.

Leinart also had a late interception on a tipped pass.

"I've been waiting patiently for my turn," said Leinart, the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner. "I'm not arrogant, but I have a lot of confidence. I feel the more experience I get, the better I will be."

The Falcons got a sixth field goal from Michael Koenen, who lost his kicking job to Andersen after making only two of eight attempts in the first two games. The second-year player, who still handles punting and kickoffs, came on to hit a 51-yarder -- a little out of Andersen's reduced range.

Vick had his second 100-yard rushing game of the season and seventh of his career, extending his NFL record for quarterbacks with 101 yards on 11 carries. But the Falcons quarterback didn't have an especially memorable game, failing to produce a touchdown on six trips inside the Arizona 20-yard line.

His ugliest play came with six minutes left in the first half, when he tried to force a pass for Michael Jenkins in the end zone. Wilson picked it off in front of the goal line and streaked down the sideline to give the Cardinals a short-lived lead of 10-9.

Atlanta came into the game ranked 26th out of 32 teams in red-zone efficiency, which is sure to go lower after they dropped to 3-for-17 on the season.

"Everybody's pressing. Everybody's trying to make something happen," tight end Alge Crumpler said. "The defense keeps baling us out. But if you look at the big picture, we're 3-1. We're right where we need to be."

The Falcons are playing as well defensively as any team in the league. The only touchdown they have surrendered came on a trick play by New Orleans last week (the other two against Atlanta were produced by a blocked punt and Wilson's return).

Linebacker Michael Boley had a huge game, tipping the pass that Hall returned for a touchdown, forcing a fumble, and coming up with an interception of his own on another tipped ball. Coleman recovered two fumbles.

The Falcons also had their third 200-yard rushing game of the season, piling up 262 yards. The rookie Norwood set a career high with 106 yards on six carries -- most of them on the longest run from scrimmage in Falcons' history, breaking a 77-yard run by Byron Hanspard in 1997.

Game notes

Atlanta lost G Kynan Forney to a shoulder injury in the third quarter. With a bye next weekend, coach Jim Mora doesn't think Forney will miss any games. ... Warner won his first six starts against the Falcons as a member of St. Louis' powerhouse teams from 1999-2001. ... Andersen has kicked five field goals in eight other games, most recently Dec. 24, 2000.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs1419
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Plays5764
Total Yards187405
Yards per play3.36.3
Total Drives1212
Yards per pass
Interceptions thrown
Sacks-Yards Lost
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-10-6
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown
Defensive / Special Teams TDs11

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders


Scoring Summary

atlFG11:00Morten Andersen 34 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 4 plays, 8 yds, 2:21
atlFG8:25Morten Andersen 40 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 5 plays, 27 yds, 1:34
ariFG2:33Neil Rackers 29 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 12 plays, 71 yds, 5:46
atlFG14:50Michael Koenen 51 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 8 plays, 34 yds, 2:48
ariTD6:12Adrian Wilson, 99 yd interception return (Neil Rackers kick is good)
Drive info: 11 plays, 86 yds, 6:15
atlFG0:13Morten Andersen 36 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 11 plays, 73 yds, 3:13
atlTD12:37Alge Crumpler, -10 yd pass from Michael Vick
Drive info: 16 plays, 67 yds, 7:48
atlFG7:12Morten Andersen 26 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 16 plays, 67 yds, 7:48
atlTD5:07DeAngelo Hall, 37 yd interception return (Morten Andersen kick is good)
Drive info: 4 plays, 10 yds, 2:06
atlTD13:30Jerious Norwood, 78 yd run (Morten Andersen kick is good)
Drive info: 1 plays, 78 yds, 0:00
atlFG11:04Morten Andersen 28 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 4 plays, 4 yds, 1:33