ATLANTA – For the second week in a row, the Atlanta Falcons lost to one of the NFL’s worst teams.

Michael Vick threw two interceptions and carelessly fumbled the ball away with 2:18 remaining, allowing the Cleveland Browns to escape with a 17-13 victory Sunday over the banged-up Falcons.

Atlanta (5-4) 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.

The Falcons quarterback took off running on the next play, getting inside the Browns 10, but a holding penalty negated the play. Faced with second-and-20, Vick tried to run again on a draw up the middle, but the Browns forced him to the outside.

Vick began stumbling after making his cut and dropped the ball, which was dangling loosely in his left hand. Jereme Perry, who was burned on White’s long catch, swooped in to make the recovery. Vick, whose helmet had been knocked off by a Browns’ player, sat on the field in disbelief while the home crowd booed him lustily.

After playing brilliantly in wins over Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, the mercurial Vick has cost the Falcons dearly with sloppy plays the last two weeks. He also had two interceptions and a fumble against Detroit, setting up a couple of touchdowns.

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, which finished off a miserable day.

Vick wasn’t helped by his receivers, who dropped at least four passes – including a probable touchdown that grazed the fingertips of Ashley Lelie in the first half.

Cleveland jumped ahead 14-0 against the Falcons, who were missing three starters on defense and lost end Patrick Kerney to a chest injury in the first half.

The Browns didn’t have cornerback Leigh Bodden, but the Falcons couldn’t take advantage in the passing game. Meanwhile, embattled Cleveland quarterback Charlie Frye had a solid performance, completing 16 of 22 passes for 165 yards with no interceptions.

Cleveland jumped ahead late in the first quarter when Reuben Droughns powered over from the 1 on fourth down. Frye set up the touchdown with a 40-yard pass to Kellen Winslow, who badly burned Allen Rossum, the fill-in for injured cornerback Jason Webster.

After Sean Jones made a diving interception on Vick, the Browns quickly drove for another TD. Frye completed three straight passes, the last of them a 19-yard score to Braylon Edwards, who found himself wide open in the middle of the field when the Falcons had a breakdown in their zone coverage.

Atlanta scored its only TD after being denied what appeared to be a safety against Frye. Rossum followed with a 37-yard punt return that set up Vick’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Michael Jenkins with about a minute remaining in the third quarter.

AP-ES-11-12-06 1653EST


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