The Browns' Kamerion Wimbley chases the ball as the Falcons' Michael Vick fumbles late in the fourth quarter yesterday.
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ATLANTA -- Michael Vick sat on the Georgia Dome turf, looking around in disbelief while the boos came at him from all directions.
He lost the ball, his helmet -- and the game.
Vick threw two interceptions and had a careless fumble with 2:18 remaining, allowing the Cleveland Browns to escape with a 17-13 victory against the Atlanta Falcons yesterday.
For the second week in a row, the Falcons (5-4) lost to one of the NFL's worst teams. Again, Vick took the brunt of the blame, turning a once-promising season into an increasingly desperate situation.
"I take sole responsibility on the offensive side," he said, shaking his head. "It hurts."
Atlanta was coming off a 30-14 loss at Detroit, only the second win of the year for the Lions. The Browns (3-6) had dropped three of four before they knocked off the Falcons in front of 70,000 stunned fans at the Georgia Dome.
Vick completed only 16 of 40 passes for 197 yards, but had the Falcons in position to pull off a comeback with a 55-yard pass to Roddy White, who made a tumbling catch at the Cleveland 17.
Vick took off running on the next play, appearing to get another first down, but a holding penalty on Eric Beverly negated the play.
"That right there determined the outcome of the game," Vick said. "We could have been on the 5-yard line."
Instead, he faced second-and-20. Vick tried to run again on a draw up the middle, but the Browns sensed what was coming and forced him outside. Vick began stumbling after cutting to his left and the ball, dangling loosely in his left hand, struck his knee and came loose. Jereme Perry swooped in to make the recovery while another Browns player knocked off Vick's helmet in the pileup.
"What can you say? I was trying to make a play," Vick said. "If you want to say it was my fault, go ahead and say it, but I know what I feel inside and I know what I know. It never should have come to that point."
After playing brilliantly in wins against the Steelers and Cincinnati, the mercurial Vick has cost the Falcons dearly with sloppy plays the past two weeks. He also had two interceptions and a fumble against Detroit.
This time, Vick's first interception was followed by a Cleveland touchdown, and his second was picked off just short of the end zone when he underthrew Alge Crumpler on a fourth-down pass. Then came the fumble on a play that appeared doomed from the start.
Vick actually lined up behind an offensive guard, scrambling into the right spot only after center Todd McClure noticed that the quarterback wasn't behind him. It only got worse from there.
"It would be ridiculous for me to stand here and criticize Mike for dropping the ball when it hit off his leg when he's made so many tremendous plays with the ball in his hand like that," coach Jim Mora said.