SAN FRANCISCO (AP)
- The San Francisco 49ers survived without Jerry Rice thanks to big plays
by all three of his understudies.
Jose Cortez kicked a 24-yard field
goal with 10:59 left in overtime as 49ers rallied to beat the Atlanta Falcons
16-13 Sunday in a game featuring the limited debut of Michael Vick and
the return of Garrison Hearst.
Terrell Owens, J.J. Stokes and Tai
Streets all turned short receptions into long gains late in the game, each
leading to San Francisco scores. The 49ers scored 13 straight points in
the final minutes to win after struggling through the first three quarters.
After Cortez made a 20-yard field
goal with 8 seconds left in regulation to tie it, San Francisco won the
coin toss and opened overtime at its own 20.
Jeff Garcia, who was 16-of-24 for
335 yards, quickly found Streets with a short pass that the fleet-footed
receiver turned into a 52-yard reception. Moments later, Cortez made his
third easy field goal, then jumped into his teammates' arms.
Owens and Stokes each had 93 yards
receiving, while Streets added 83 yards for the 49ers, who beat Atlanta
at 3Com Park for the 10th straight time.
Exactly 32 months after Hearst broke
his left leg on the first play of a playoff game against the Falcons, he
returned to the 49ers' starting lineup.
Though he didn't show the acceleration
of departed tailback Charlie Garner - or even the Hearst of 1998, when
he rushed for a career-best 1,570 yards - he was solid, rushing for 48
yards and catching four passes.
Jamal Anderson rushed for 86 yards
and a score as Atlanta had a dismal offensive day despite the debut of
Vick, the heralded No. 1 draft pick who signed a $62 million contract.
Vick played just two series and didn't
complete a pass in four attempts, but he rushed twice for 32 yards - including
a 25-yard keeper that gave a hint of things to come.
Stokes, primarily expected to pick
up Rice's statistical slack, caught a 47-yard pass. Two plays later, Garcia
found Stokes for a diving 16-yard play for a touchdown with 11:29 left,
cutting Atlanta's lead to 13-10.
In the final minutes, Owens got the
49ers into scoring position on a short catch he turned into a 40-yard gain
with 2:00 left. San Francisco got to the 4, but Garcia overthrew Owens
and Streets on consecutive plays.
Vick debuted in the Falcons' second
offensive series, overthrowing receivers with his first two NFL passes.
Chris Chandler, who was 11-of-18
for 121 yards, led the Falcons to the game's first score on their third
possession. Anderson scored on a 1-yard run.
Vick didn't return until the second
series of the second half. On his second career rush, Vick showed his breathtaking
agility on the 25-yard scamper through the heart of the defense, setting
up Jay Feely's second short field goal.