'Pride' propels Falcons to win

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. --- The Atlanta Falcons already had their playoff hopes dashed and were getting manhandled by the New York Jets' top-ranked defense.


No contest, right? Not quite.

Tony Gonzalez caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan on a fourth-down play with 1:38 remaining Sunday to lift the Falcons to a 10-7 victory that seriously damaged the Jets' postseason chances.

"As a man taking pride in what you do for a living and loving what you do," Gonzalez said, "you owe it to yourself and the fans and the organization to go out there and play your butt off. That's what we did."

A day after the Falcons (7-7) were eliminated from playoff contention by Dallas' win over New Orleans, they were able to play spoiler against the stunned Jets (7-7).

"Unfortunately, a lot of bad things happened today," New York wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said.

Ryan, starting after missing two games with a toe injury, couldn't do much against the Jets' defense for most of the game -- but New York's offense also sputtered at the cold and windy Meadowlands and failed to put it away. Mark Sanchez threw three interceptions, Jay Feely missed a field goal and had another blocked, and Kellen Clemens mishandled a snap on another attempt. There were also a few costly penalties.

"It's tough to swallow," Sanchez said. "It's never good to play that poorly. We played well in spurts and then we'd turn the ball over."

With the game on the line, Ryan found Gonzalez at the front of the end zone for the go-ahead score.

"They were doing a pretty good job of taking me out of that final drive," Gonzalez said. "Then on the last play, I thought, 'Oh my God, they're going zone here and I might have a shot here to get open.'"

Frustrated Jets fans in the upper deck tossed snow, and they booed loudly after the score. There were 29 fans ejected and one arrested for throwing snow.

The Jets could've put the game out of reach, but the offense mustered little other than Braylon Edwards' 65-yard touchdown catch.

Ryan finished 16 for 34 for 152 yards for the Falcons, who are still in contention to post back-to-back winning records for the first time in their 44-year history.

Falcons running back Michael Turner started after missing the past two games with an ankle injury, but coach Mike Smith said he was hurt again on his first carry.



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