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McAllister makes amends for late fumble

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Once Deuce McAllister hit his stride,
Atlanta's hopes for back-to-back victories disappeared.

Question on the Falcons: Could a loss like this unofficially put an end to their season?
This season is over and has been for a while for the Falcons. The last two weeks, they've seen some light at the end of the tunnel, especially from RB Warrick Dunn. He has rushed for over 300 yards and one touchdown the past two weeks. Throughout Dunn's career, his abilities have been doubted because of his small size. But as they say it's not the size of the dog, but the fight in the dog and Dunn's performance should get him the credit he deserves.

Question on the Saints: Can they play consistent enough down the stretch to make the playoffs?
The past few years, that has been the knock on this team. This team is inconsistent when it counts and have shown that tendency in both games against the Panthers this season. It's befuddling at times because they have a great running back, weapons at wide receiver and a good quarterback. If they can keep their focus on the playoffs and not let anything else get in the way, they'll be all right down the stretch.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

McAllister was held to 20 yards in the first half, had two
fumbles, including a critical one in overtime, but finished with
173 yards and two touchdowns in the Saints' 23-20 overtime victory
against the Atlanta Falcons. His 23-yard run in overtime set up
John Carney's 36-yard field goal.

"I knew I had no business fumbling that ball," McAllister
said. "I should have got it done the first time. I'm obviously
gratified that we won, but I'm definitely disappointed for the two
fumbles."

New Orleans (5-5) fought back from a 20-3 first-half deficit to
tie the game at 20. McAllister had touchdown runs of 5 and 7 yards
in the rally and Carney capped it with a 26-yard field goal.

"Like coach says, `Anytime you allow a team to score no more
than 20 points in the National Football League you've got a chance
to win," said Saints defensive end Charles Grant. "And that's
what we did."

The Saints got the first possession of overtime and McAllister
ran 58 yards on the first play. But Juron Bolden slapped the ball
out of McAllister's hands and into the end zone, giving the Falcons
first down on the 20.

Warrick Dunn, who had 162 yards on 23 carries, then rushed for
41 yards, but Jay Feely, who kicked two earlier field goals, missed
a 54-yarder, giving the Saints another chance.

Joe Horn, who played very little because of a sore left knee,
caught a 14-yard pass that moved the Saints into Atlanta territory.
Then McAllister, with both arms around the football, ran to the
Atlanta 18.

McAllister, who has rushed for at least 100 yards in seven
straight games, gained 83 yards in overtime. He also had nine
receptions for 64 yards.

"I'm glad that we won," McAllister said. "I'm just
disappointed that I put the ball on the ground two times.

Atlanta (2-8), ranked dead last overall in defense, gave the
Saints trouble in the first half. The Falcons turned two
interceptions into touchdowns, sacked Aaron Brooks seven times and
kept him under constant pressure. Brooks completed 21 of 37 passes
for 228 yards.

"Our focus was on stopping Deuce," said Atlanta linebacker
Keith Brooking. "He ran all over us in the last game. The offense
is predicated on him, so we tried to stop him and make Brooks beat
us. We did a pretty good job of hitting him and contained him
pretty well until the overtime runs."

Atlanta got a touchdown when Tod McBride picked off Brooks'
throw and scampered 15 yards to make it 7-0. Feely's 38-yard field
goal made it 10-0 as time ran out in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Bolden got his first interception of the
season and returned it to the Saints 5. Two plays later, T.J.
Duckett took it the final 4 yards to make it 17-0.

New Orleans drove to the Atlanta 4, but came up with only a
28-yard field goal after Brooks was sacked.

Feely added a 27-yarder to give Atlanta a 20-3 lead at halftime.

The Saints then took advantage of an interception by Fred Thomas
that set them up on the Falcons 16. McAllister charged the last 5
yards to pull New Orleans to 20-10.

Aided by a 15-yard personal foul penalty and a defensive holding
call that gave them a first down, the Saints drove 52 yards and
McAllister got his second TD on a 7-yard run with 12:22 left.

The Saints drove to the Atlanta 8 in the closing seconds of
regulation. Brooks was sacked, however, and Carney's 26-yard field
goal tied it with nine seconds left.
^Notes:@ It was the first game played on the Louisiana Superdome's
new AstroPlay surface, whose developers claim the natural
grass-like covering is safer and softer than the stadium's old
AstroTurf carpet. ... It was the Saints' 27th consecutive sellout
of the 72,000-seat Superdome. ... Horn has caught at least one pass
in 72 consecutive NFL games, in all 58 regular-season games with
the Saints and his last 14 games with Kansas City in 1999. ...
Atlanta WR Peerless Price extended his streak to 60 straight games
with at least one reception ... New Orleans K John Carney's 28-yard
kick in the second period extended his team field goal record to 22
consecutive games. ... Saints WR Donte' Stallworth hurt his
hamstring and TE Ernie Conwell broke right ankle.

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