NFL news of November 11, 2002

Good teams along the way to something better haven’t a use for anything not synonymous with victory. So, after the Falcons and the Steelers stopped alternating thrills Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field with an exhausting but scoreless overtime, the Falcons suggested they’re close to that next level.

That is, if the Falcons aren’t already there. You have to like their direction these days, because a slew of those inside the visitors’ locker room shrugged, cringed or fumed in the aftermath over things that would bring joy to your average NFL bunch seeking to escape mediocrity, or worse.

Things such as roaring from a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter against a Super Bowl-caliber team before its historically rough crowd for guests. Things such as having a young quarterback display his combination of gifts and guts despite getting slammed by defenders with everything shy of one of the nearby bridges. Things such as a flimsy defense for most of the game finding enough in the clutch to keep the other team from winning.

Instead, more than a few Falcons players viewed their improbable ride to a 34-34 tie as exactly what it was, and it was a glorified loss.

“Why would anybody be satisfied with a tie?” said Falcons running back Warrick Dunn, delivering the truth. Added Falcons tight end Alge Crumpler, “It’s all about winning, because nothing else matters in this game.”

Crumpler mentioned as much — loudly and colorfully — during a team huddle before the overtime period began. “It obviously didn’t work too well,” said Crumpler, looking tired and disgusted.

Falcons wide receiver Brian Finneran shook his head, saying, “I was flabbergasted, because I really didn’t understand the rule involving a tie after the overtime period.” Then Finneran forced a laugh, saying, “As we were walking off the field, I said to somebody, ‘What is this, hockey?’ “

— Terence Moore, Atlanta Journal-Constitution “Falcons 34, Steelers 34: Good Sign: Not Happy with Tie”

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