Ottis Anderson rushed 122 yards and scored one touchdown, on a 20-yard run, as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Atlanta Falcons, 23-20, today.

The Falcons would have forced overtime if Mick Luckhurst hadn't hooked a 42-yard field goal attempt to the right with one second left.

"They must have moved the goal post on me," said Luckhurst. "It was a good kick. It just didn't go in."

The Cardinals scored on their first two possessions, then got nothing until the third quarter. Then their ball-control offense produced a field goal and drove 78 yards to the one. After the Cardinals failed three times to get the last yard, Neil O'Donoghue kicked an 18-yard field goal.

But the Falcons were caught with 12 men on the field. The Cardinals accepted the penalty, went for the touchdown and quarterback Neil Lomax plunged over.

"We had decided that we would go for it if we had less than half a yard to go," Coach Jim Hanifan said. "When it became fourth and one, we decided to go for three. But then Atlanta was penalized.

"The line had been screaming at me on the sidelines about not letting them go for it from the one-yard line and I had been screaming back at them saying they had three chances to put it in there and hadn't done it."

But with the penalty, Hanifan said Lomax told him he thought he could make it behind center Dan Dierdorf and guard Joe Bostic. "When he said he was sure, I decided to go for it," Hanifan said.

Anderson was pleased for other reasons.

"Hopefully, this will shut up the people in St. Louis," he said. He had run only 157 yards in his first three games and had been criticized for not running aggressively.

The game drew 33,411 fans but rain was a factor in the 26,992 no-shows.