ATLANTA - Looking for an opportunity to grab the Falcons' kickoff return job, DeAndra Cobb dashed from one side of the field to the other Friday night, but Atlanta fell to the Tennessee Titans, 24-21.
Michael Vick passed for one touchdown and T.J. Duckett ran 72 yards for another. But the defense couldn't rein in the Titans.
Cobb's run came in what could be one of the last chances for players on the edge of the depth chart to make the team. Coach Jim Mora has said he will begin playing his starters longer, starting with next week's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, cutting back on opportunities for players on the bubble to make an impression.
The rookie said he thought his performance would help him make the roster after a couple of weeks in which he had few opportunities for kickoff returns.
"It was a step up," he said.
But Mora said Cobb hadn't yet proved he was ready for the team. Cobb's two other returns went for an average of 20 yards.
A shot to Peerless Price in the third quarter forced the receiver out of the game with bruised ribs and a mild concussion.
Vick was solid throwing the ball, going 6-for-9 for 64 yards on the night in addition to the score.
But the defense allowed three Titans quarterbacks to ring up 411 yards through the air. Tennessee converted 60 percent of its third-down opportunities and controlled the clock for more than 43 minutes.
The opening drive gave the Falcons a 7-0 lead on Vick's 4-yard touchdown lob to Brian Finneran.
After driving to the Atlanta 7-yard line, Tennessee kicked a 25-yard field goal to slice the Falcons' lead to 7-3, and Cobb answered on the next kickoff with his 101-yard dash for the score.
Mora said the kickoff return and the lengthy Tennessee possessions before and after Cobb's touchdown might have disrupted the Falcons' offense. Atlanta made only one first down the rest of the half.
"We had a little rhythm going," Mora said. "And we kind of lost it."
Tennessee rallied with nine points in the second quarter.
A few minutes into the third quarter, T.J. Duckett responded with his touchdown run.
Late in the fourth quarter, Rocky Boiman picked off a Matt Schaub pass to give the Titans control at their 25. Tennessee drove to the Atlanta 1, but couldn't score on four consecutive plays.
But Atlanta had no better luck moving the ball and after a punt and a Titans penalty, Tennessee took over at its own 41.
Led by rookie quarterback Shane Boyd, the Titans marched down the field 59 yards for the touchdown with less than two minutes left on the clock.
Reach Brandon Larrabee at (404) 681-1701 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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