Originally created 09/13/99

Falcons lose Vikings rematch



ATLANTA -- As usual, the sequel struggled to live up to the original.

The Atlanta Falcons, defending NFC champions, fumbled away a chance to solidify their NFL image with a bumbling 17-14 season-opening loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

A sellout crowd at the Georgia Dome groaned in unison as Morten Andersen's attempt to tie the game with a 39-yard field goal floated wide right, eliminating much of the day's Falcons fever.

When the Falcons defeated these same Vikings for the NFC championship and Atlanta's first Super Bowl berth 244 days ago, it was on Mr. Andersen's toe in overtime.

"It's not my best day," Mr. Andersen said afterward. He also missed on a 35-yard attempt in the second quarter.

This highly anticipated rematch looked more like an extension of the Falcons' exhibition season, as they committed three costly turnovers and two pass interference penalties to set up all of Minnesota's 17 points. The loss also was the Falcons' first at home in 11 games, dating back to November 1997.

What made the afternoon worse was the right hamstring injury suffered late by fragile Falcons quarterback Chris Chandler.

His status for next week's game at Dallas is uncertain.

REACH

Rick Dorsey at (706) 823-3219 or rdorsey@augustachronicle.com