Originally created 09/13/99

Falcons notebook



ATLANTA -- Morten Andersen said he will watch the game film from Sunday's 17-14 loss to Minnesota, but he already knows what he did wrong.

"My feedback is immediate," he said after missing field goals of 35 and 39 yards. "You see my mistakes. Everybody sees it."

Andersen missed a pair of field goals, including the 39-yarder with 3:38 remaining that could have sent the rematch of last year's NFC Championship into overtime. His counterpart, Gary Anderson, also missed two field goals.

"On the first one, I think I was a little quick and I turned on it," Andersen said. "That made it go right. On the second one, it felt good. It was going doing the middle, then all of a sudden, it veered left."

Gary Anderson came into last year's NFC Championship game without a miss in two years, but his duck-hook from 39 yards allowed the Falcons to tie the game in the final minute, then win it in overtime.

His first chance for redemption was a 26-yard attempt in the first quarter, and it was blocked by Shane Dronett. He made a 36-yarder in the second quarter, but missed a 30-yarder in the fourth quarter that, like a year ago, could have given the Vikings a bigger cushion down the stretch.

"I made a bad kick," Anderson said. "No, it's got nothing to do with the ball."

This year, the NFL has special balls that will be used in kicking situations. In the past, some teams were suspected of deflating game balls to make them easier to kick.

Andersen joined Anderson in saying the ball wasn't the problem.

"It all happened so quickly," Andersen said. "Even after 18 years in this league, I can learn from it. I think both teams played poorly at times. At the beginning of the season, you want to be good. I know what I have to do."

CALLOWAY AT HOME:

The concern that Atlanta lost a valuable piece of its passing game was erased by Chris Calloway's five-catch, 84-yard performance.

"There's nothing sweet about the game because we lost," Calloway said. "Right now, I'm at about 90 percent. I keep working hard and I don't listen to all those people who keep saying we don't have a deep threat anymore. It doesn't bother me anymore."

The Falcons released Tony Martin, the team's leader in receptions and yardage, shortly after their Super Bowl appearance when Martin was charged with laundering drug money. Atlanta responded by signing Calloway away from the New York Giants.

Calloway got off to a slow start for the defending NFC champions by spraining his ankle in the first week of training camp. A month later, he's still not at full speed.

"I can still do things to get open," he said. "I'm getting closer to getting in the groove. I was fairly comfortable out there. I've been through this before. It's my 10th year, so it wasn't anything new to me.

"We have to eliminate our mistakes if we're going to win. You can't have three turnovers and expect to win. I'm happy to make some catches, but the bottom line is we lost. The positive thing is I'm getting better (physically)."

One of Calloway's catches was a 23-yard touchdown.

SIGN ON THE DOTTED LINE:

Defensive tackle Travis Hall and fullback Bob Christian played with a new contract Sunday. Both were scheduled to be free agents at the end of the season, but both were given new contracts late Saturday. Hall's is the blockbuster, a reported $52.5 million deal for seven years.

EXTRA POINTS:

Only three teams which lost their season opener in 1998 qualified for the playoffs ... Quarterback Chris Chandler's strained hamstring will keep him out of practice for most of the week. If he can't play next Monday night at Dallas, which ralled from a three-touchdown deficit at Washington on Sunday to win in overtime, the starter will be Tony Graziani ... After going two years without missing a field goal, Minnesota kicker Gary Anderson now has missed three of his last four -- all against Atlanta ... Falcons wide receiver Terance Mathis was held to 40 receiving yards on four catches. He said without having Martin on the other side, he saw some new defenses Sunday. "I've never been double-teamed so much in the fourth quarter," he said. "This is kind of new to me." ... Second-year linebacker Keith Brooking said Sunday's loss completed one of the worst football weeks of his career. On Friday, his former high school, East Coweta in Sharpsburg, Ga., lost for the first time in 10 years to rival Lovejoy, 31-6. Then on Saturday, if college alma mater, Georgia Tech, lost 41-35 at No. 1 Florida State. Sunday's 17-14 loss to Minnesota completed the trifecta.