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McCord's big day lifts Falcons over Lions

ATLANTA (AP) -- The Atlanta Falcons did all they could to clinch
a playoff spot.

Question on the Lions: If Mornhinweg is fired, any candidates you see as being a good fit?
There are a number of NFL assistants who are qualified. Bill Callahan has done a good job in his first year as the head coach in Oakland. A guy like Marvin Lewis would do the same. But the Lions need more than a new coach -- they need a GM who provides the personnel needed to rebuild a franchise.

Question on the Falcons: Is McCord's outburst (182 receiving yards) a sign that Vick is showing more trust in his targets?
I'm not sure it's showing more trust. It's just a matter of having a game plan and executing it. It doesn't matter if Receiver A or Receiver B has a big game. What matters is the final score. And as his receivers come through in important situations, Michael Vick will naturally be more confident going to them.

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

The New York Giants wouldn't cooperate.

Led by Quentin McCord, Jay Feely and -- of course -- Michael Vick,
the Falcons moved a step closer to their first postseason berth
since 1998 with a 36-15 victory over the woeful Detroit Lions on
Sunday.

Atlanta (9-5-1) was hoping to make the playoffs with a week to
spare, but the Giants (9-6) stayed alive with a 44-27 victory at
Indianapolis. Now, it comes down to the final weekend of the
regular season.

"It's very disappointing,'' said McCord, who had a career day
with seven catches for 182 yards and a touchdown. "We wanted it to
clinch it this week, but it will be nice to clinch it next week.''

The Falcons did move ahead of New Orleans (9-6) in the NFC
standings after the Saints were shocked by Cincinnati (2-13).

Only two of those teams will be playing after next weekend.
Atlanta is assured of getting in with a victory at Cleveland, or if
either the Giants or Saints lose.

"We kept our eyes on the scoreboard,'' Vick said. "We were
hoping the Giants would fall a little bit. Unfortunately, it didn't
happen. Now, we've got to take care of our business.''

McCord's big day boosted Vick to a career-high 338 yards
passing, even though the left-hander didn't look especially sharp
much of the game.

Vick completed 20 of 38 passes, including a 20-yard touchdown to
McCord and a late 44-yard scoring play to Brian Finneran that
helped the Falcons snap a two-game losing streak.

Before Sunday, McCord had four catches for 59 yards in his
two-year career. He replaced tthe injured Shawn Jefferson, hauling
in a 60-yard pass early in the third quarter and three other throws
that covered at least 20 yards.

"I've been waiting for this opportunity,'' McCord said.
"Fortunately, Vick came to me early. I made a couple of plays and
he felt comfortable enough to keep coming to me.''

The Falcons had 533 total yards -- their most since 1998. Detroit
(3-12) was held to 208 yards, but gave Atlanta a scare with a
couple of touchdowns 22 seconds apart in the fourth quarter.

Feely redeemed himself somewhat by kicking five field goals, one
short of the team record. Last week, his overtime miss against
Seattle led to a loss that still could loom large at the end of the
season.

"To be honest, I've thought about it a lot,'' Feely said. "It
was a missed opportunity. We could have already clinched a playoff
spot by now.''

Warrick Dunn had a career-high 30 carries for 132 yards and the
touchdown that sealed the victory with 3:49 remaining.

The Lions completed another winless season on the road, where
they have lost 16 straight over the past two years.

"We had a little bit of momentum, and then the thing blew up on
us,'' embattled coach Marty Mornhinweg said.

Atlanta drove inside the Lions 10 on five occasions, but managed
only one TD -- on Dunn's 3-yard run.

Feely converted from 20 yards and twice from 23. His other two
field goals were from 36 and 39 yards.

Vick completed only 11 of 25 in the first half, but he did lead
the Falcons to a late touchdown drive. After scrambling for a
20-yard gain, he connected on the 20-yard scoring pass to McCord
with 17 seconds left.

After Feely's fifth field goal made it 22-0, Eddie Drummond put
the Lions in scoring position with an 88-yard kickoff return.

Mike McMahon, filling in for the ailing Joey Harrington,
converted a remarkable fourth-down, 1-yard TD pass to James Stewart
with 9:53 to go. The quarterback was wrapped up by two defenders
but managed to flip an underhanded pass to Stewart.

On Atlanta's next possession, Bob Christian fumbled on a hit by
Barrett Green that left the Falcons fullback unconscious. He was
carted off the field after being revived and did not return.

McMahon then threw a 15-yard scoring pass to Aveion Cason with
9:31 left.

But Atlanta responded with a 10-play, 88-yard touchdown drive
that included a 38-yard pass interference penalty against Detroit
safety Brian Walker.

Game notes
McMahon was 11-of-33 for 149 yards, including three
interceptions. ... The Falcons retired the number of five-time Pro
Bowler Jessie Tuggle during a halftime ceremony that included NFL
commissioner Paul Tagliabue. Tuggle played 14 seasons for the
Falcons, retiring after the 2000 season. ... The Lions haven't won
a road game since beating the New York Jets 10-7 on Dec. 17, 2000.
... Falcons coach Dan Reeves won his 187th regular-season game,
passing Chuck Knox on the career list.