Tackle Dan Benish set up a touchdown by recovering a fumble, then blocked Jan Stenerud's field goal attempt to help the Atlanta Falcons defeat the Minnesota Vikings, 14-13, today.

But the big play came in the fourth period when Stenerud kicked wide right trying for an extra point. That left his team 7-8 and with little hope of making the playoffs.

"I shoulder the blame more than anyone else for this loss," said Stenerud, 43, who missed two other field goal tries. "I had good snaps and good holds. There was no excuse. This is one of the low moments in my 19-year career. It was a terrible performance."

Tommy Kramer had passed from the Falcons 49 to Anthony Carter at the 40, then Carter had outrun defenders to get the Vikings within 14-13 with 8:03 left in the game.

After Stenerud missed the extra point, Minnesota had two other possessions and lost the ball on turnovers both times.

Rick Bryan sacked Kramer for a nine-yard loss and forced a fumble that Mike Gann recovered for the Falcons on the Minnesota 31 with 1:10 remaining.

The Falcons couldn't run out the clock and yielded the ball on the Minnesota 48 with two seconds left. Scott Case intercepted Kramer's desperation pass to end the game.

The game was scoreless until the second quarter, when David Archer passed to Charlie Brown for a 34-yard touchdown.

"A lot of people don't realize I've been playing hurt most of the season," said Brown, who was obtained from Washington before the season. "Six cracked ribs hurt not only when you make contact but also when you twist and turn. This is the first game I have felt almost 100 percent in a long time."

Then Benish recovered Darrin Nelson's fumble on the Minnesota 28, leading to a one-yard plunge by another former Redskin, Joe Washington, which made it 14-0 in the second period. Benish also blocked Stenerud's 33-yard field goal try in that period.

Stenerud also missed from 48 yards when his low liner hit one of his linemen and he was short on a 46-yard attempt on the final play of the first half.

Minnesota's other touchdown came in the second quarter, when Nelson ended a 79-yard drive with a six-yard run.

Atlanta's Gerald Riggs, the NFL's rushing leader with 1,548 going into the game, got only 13 yards on 10 carries before leaving the game in the second quarter with a sprained right knee.

He has 1,561 yards this season, second-best to Marcus Allen of the Raiders who gained 109 today for a total of 1,636. A spokesman for the Falcons said Riggs might miss next week's game in New Orleans, but Riggs insisted he would play. He need seven yards to break William Andrews' club record of 1,567, set two years ago.

The game drew a crowd of only 14,167, second lowest in team history.