Atlanta quarterback Steve Bartkowski riddled the Houston Oilers' defense for 372 yards and threw two touchdown passes in a 22-second span of the second quarter as the Falcons sustained their playoff hopes by defeating the Oilers today, 31-27.

Two weeks ago, Bartkowski set the Falcons' one-game passing record by throwing for 416 yards against Pittsburgh.

Atlanta improved its record to 7-6 and stayed in the running for a National Conference wild-card playoff berth. The Oilers, losing for the sixth time in seven games, dropped to 5-8.

Bartkowski completed 18 of 25 passes for 372 yards. He completed six of his first eight passes in the game and the Falcons took a 10-0 first-quarter lead on a three-yard run by William Andrews and a 36-yard field goal by Mick Luckhurst.

The touchdown passes -- 43 yards to Alfred Jackson and 42 yards to Alfred Jenkins -- gave the Falcons to a 24-6 lead.

Oiler quarterback Ken Stabler completed two touchdown passes in the second quarter. But Stabler, who completed 17 of 33 passes and was intercepted twice, was replaced in the fourth quarter by Gifford Nielsen.

Nielsen marched his team to two quick touchdowns on an 18-yard run by Earl Campbell and a three-yard pass to running back Adger Armstrong.