LANDOVER, Md. (AP) – The Atlanta Falcons faced a big first-half deficit and were headed toward their fifth straight loss. Then came a 24-point rally, highlighted by a pair of big plays in the open field.

Michael Vick and Warrick Dunn? Nope. Defensive lineman Chauncey Davis and rookie running back Jerious Norwood.

Davis’ 41-yard rumble after his first career interception set up one touchdown, and Norwood’s moves embarrassed several would-be tacklers on a 69-touchdown run. The Falcons stopped their skid Sunday with a 24-14 victory over the Washington Redskins.

The NFL’s leading rushing team ran for 256 yards, led by Norwood (107), Dunn (87) and Vick (59). Vick, fined after making an obscene gesture to fans following last week’s loss to New Orleans, also threw two touchdown passes and went 8-for-16 for 122 yards. His only noteworthy hand movements were fist pumps, a touchdown signal with both index fingers, and the grabbing of his right leg after he came up gimpy and had to leave for a play in the fourth quarter.

Both teams considered the game a must-win, and the victory put the Falcons (6-6), who fell below .500 for first time in Jim Mora’s three seasons as coach, back in the serious hunt for a playoff berth.

The Redskins (4-8) have lost three of four, and they squandered the momentum they gained from last week’s back-to-basics victory over Carolina.

Jason Campbell, making his third NFL start, completed 18 of 38 passes for 218 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Ladell Betts, the featured back with Clinton Portis out for the season with a broken hand, ran for a career-high 155 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries. He has back-to-back 100-yard games for the first time in his career.

The Falcons trailed 14-0 after the first quarter, and even Vick was unable to convert a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-1 at Washington’s 48 early in the second. He finally got his first big run on the next drive, breaking two tackles on a 16-yard scramble, helping set up a 34-yard field goal by Morten Andersen.

The Falcons firmly turned the momentum with their next drive. Vick hit his favorite receiver, tight end Alge Crumpler, for a 46-yard gain and a 16-yard touchdown. Redskins third-string safety Vernon Fox, starting because of a hamstring injury to Troy Vincent, was victimized on both plays. Crumpler’s backpedalling catch in the end zone late in the quarter made it 14-10 at halftime.

The Redskins were driving to extend their lead on the opening drive of the third quarter when Campbell made the first major blunder as an NFL quarterback. With blitzing Lawyer Milloy draped on his shoulder, Campbell threw a limp pass that was juggled and caught by Davis, who returned the ball to Washington’s 25. It was the first interception in seven games for the Falcons.

Two plays later, Vick hit Michael Jenkins for a 22-yard touchdown pass to give Atlanta a 17-14 lead. Jenkins was open on a crossing route ahead of cornerback Kenny Wright, who started in place of Shawn Springs, also out with a hamstring injury.

Norwood sealed the win with his long scamper in which he broke a tackle and left cornerback Carlos Rogers spinning in both directions. It was Norwood’s second touchdown run – the other was a 78-yard score vs. Arizona.

The Redskins moved deep into Falcons territory twice late in the fourth quarter. The first drive ended when Campbell was intercepted by Chris Crocker after Campbell was hit by blitzing linebacker Demorrio Williams. Washington’s final possession ended with an incomplete pass on fourth down inside the 10 in the final minute.

AP-ES-12-03-06 1734EST


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