ATLANTA (AP) – Michael Vick and the Atlanta Falcons served notice that they are still dangerous – and not yet out of the playoff race.

Vick ran for two touchdowns and passed for one score before a late hit knocked him out of the game with bruised ribs, and the Falcons beat the New Orleans Saints 36-17.

If they could play all their games on Monday night, the Falcons might be a lock for more than just a postseason berth: Atlanta is 3-0 in the prime time slot this season.

Vick improved to 5-0 in his starts against the Saints (3-10), who have lost eight of their last nine games. Vick had scoring runs of 2 and 17 yards, and he threw a 54-yard touchdown pass to rookie Roddy White on a flea-flicker play.

But in the fourth quarter, Vick was slow to get up after taking a late hit from linebacker Ronald McKinnon, who drew a penalty on the play. Vick stayed in for two more plays before calling a timeout with 9:21 left to play and slowly walking off the field. Vick was walking on his own power as he was escorted to the locker room.

There was no immediate update on the severity of the injury.

Before facing the Saints, the Falcons (8-5) lost three of four games to fall behind the top six teams in the NFC. The Falcons would lose NFC tiebreakers with two other 8-5 teams, Dallas and Minnesota.

With games left against Chicago, Tampa Bay and Carolina, the Falcons still face a tough climb to make the playoffs, but they regained momentum against the Saints.

Vick passed for 231 yards with a touchdown and an interception and rushed for 38 yards in his fourth career game with two rushing touchdowns. Alge Crumpler caught three passes for 94 yards.

AP-ES-12-13-05 0047EST

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