Originally created 10/14/02

Falcons defeat Giants



EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Atlanta Falcons had an easier time overcoming the absence of Michael Vick than the New York Giants did overcoming the loss of most of their defensive line.

Starting in place of an injured Vick, Doug Johnson ran for a touchdown and threw a game-winning 14-yard pass to Brian Finneran with 8:06 to play, leading the Falcons to a 17-10 win over the injury-ravaged Giants on Sunday.

Falcons cornerback Juran Bolden prevented New York from taking the lead early in the fourth quarter with an interception at the Falcons 6. Henry Jones forced a late fumble that Kevin Mathis recovered at the Atlanta 15 with 3:22 to play with New York (3-3) threatening to tie the game.

Johnson, who was 19-of-25 for 257 yards, also had a 63-yard pass play to Shawn Jefferson that set up the go-ahead touchdown. It came two plays after Bolden's interception and it was set up when cornerback Will Allen went for an interception at midfield and missed.

Kerry Collins threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Ike Hilliard and Matt Bryant kicked a 38-yard field goal for the Giants. New York played most of the game with only one starter on the defensive line and six starters missing overall.

Defensive tackle Keith Hamilton probably was lost for the season when he tore his right Achilles' tendon on a 17-play, 88-yard first-quarter touchdown drive Johnson capped with a 15-yard scramble.

Michael Strahan, who set a single-season NFL sacks record in 2001, also developed back spasms on the drive. He missed the second quarter and played only on passing downs in the second half. With DE Kenny Holmes sidelines with an elbow injury, it left with only one starting lineman, Cornelius Griffin.

New York actually had six starters out, including tight end Jeremy Shockey, guard Jason Whittle and cornerback Will Peterson.

With the Falcons (2-3) keeping things simple without Vick (sprained right shoulder), and the Giants trying to milk the clock with their defensive line banged up, both teams used simple ball-control offense. That made for a quick game.

Johnson, making his third career start, converted four third-down passes on the Falcons' 88-yard drive that lasted 9:34. Johnson scored on a scramble after getting Jason Sehorn to jump on a pump fake.

Bryant got New York within 7-3 with his 38-yard field goal. But a 30-yard pass from Johnson to wide-open tight end Alge Crumpler set up Jay Feely's field goal with 30 seconds left in the half.

The Giants tied it on the opening series of the second half, driving 70 yards in 12 plays, with Hilliard beating Bolden in the corner for the touchdown.

The Giants were threatening to take the lead early in the fourth quarter when Bolden stepped in front of Hilliard on Collins' pass from the Atlanta 20.

After the touchdown pass to Finneran, the Giants were driving when Collins hit Ron Dixon on a look-in pattern. However, Falcons safety Henry Jones forced a fumble and Mathis recovered.