Falcons Hold Off 49ers, But Few See It
Sunday, November 4, 2007; 4:42 PM
ATLANTA -- The Falcons actually won another game, even though most of their fans didn't get to see it.
Warrick Dunn became the first Atlanta back to run for 100 yards this season, Ovie Mughelli had the first TD rushing of his career and the Falcons won a matchup between two of the league's worst teams, holding off the San Francisco 49ers 20-16 Sunday.
The game was blacked out locally _ the first time that's happened in Atlanta since 2001. The Georgia Dome was far from packed after 56 consecutive sellouts, the city clearly losing interest in a losing squad that no longer has Michael Vick to liven things up.
For those who couldn't see it on television or didn't show up, not to worry: Y'all didn't miss much.
Dunn rushed for 100 yards on 27 carries, including a 9-yard touchdown. Mughelli, a fullback who essentially serves as another offensive lineman, scored on a 1-yard plunge with just his third carry of the season. Morten Andersen handled the rest of the scoring for the Falcons (2-6) with a couple of fourth-quarter field goals.
San Francisco (2-6) lost its sixth in a row with another dismal offensive performance. Leading rusher Frank Gore (sore ankle) didn't play and Alex Smith, playing with a taped-up throwing shoulder, completed only 17 of 38 passes for 149 yards, with three interceptions.
The 49ers haven't scored 20 points in a game since their season-opening win over Arizona. Safety Lawyer Milloy came up big for the Falcons' defense, picking off a pass and making a huge stop on fill-in runner Michael Robinson when San Francisco had third-and-goal at the Atlanta 1 with a chance to take the lead midway through the final period.
Joey Harrington, getting another chance to start for Atlanta while Byron Leftwich recovers from ankle surgery, didn't exactly dazzle. He was 14-of-25 for 138 yards with an interception.
Trailing 17-13, the 49ers drove into position for the go-ahead score. On second-and-goal from the Falcons 10, Smith rolled away from pressure and dumped a pass to big tight end Vernon Davis, who had plenty of room to run.
Chris Crocker hustled over to trip up Davis at the 1, leaving San Francisco with third down instead of a touchdown. Three feet from losing the lead, the Falcons held when Milloy sliced through the line and dumped Robinson for a 3-yard loss.
The 49ers settled for Joe Nedney's third field goal, and didn't come close to scoring again.
San Francisco drove for its lone touchdown on its first possession. Hicks, who shared the running duties with Robinson while Gore watched from the sideline, went 9 yards without being touched for his second career TD.
Running the ball as well as they have all season, the Falcons bounced back for a 14-7 lead by halftime. Dunn did most of the work on a nine-play, 70-yard drive, carrying the ball seven times. The last of those was his 9-yard score, which he improvised by breaking outside after running into a wall of defenders at left tackle.
Adam Jennings set up Atlanta's other TD with a 23-yard punt return to the San Francisco 42. Mughelli finished off the tedious 12-play drive by powering over from the 1.
The Falcons rushed for a season-high 155 yards.