ATLANTA - The Falcons awoke to news of their disgraced quarterback being sentenced to nearly two years in prison for dogfighting. The day never got any better.

With Reggie Bush watching from the sideline, Drew Brees passed for 328 yards and three touchdowns as the New Orleans Saints rolled past Atlanta, 34-14, last night.

The Falcons (3-10) showed just how much they miss Michael Vick, who was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison yesterday.

Bush sat out with a partially torn knee ligament that could keep him out for the rest of the season. Brees shredded the Falcons' defense in four scoring drives that covered at least 75 yards as the Saints improved to 6-7.

Two Falcons sent messages to Vick that almost surely will draw fines from the NFL.

Cornerback DeAngelo Hall ran onto the field during pregame introductions holding up a Vick poster. He had "MV7" painted beneath his eyes. Roddy White hauled in a 33-yard touchdown pass that briefly tied the score at 7, then pulled up his jersey to reveal a T-shirt that said "Free Mike Vick."


New England (13-0) continued to draw big TV ratings in Sunday's 34-13 rout of Pittsburgh.

The game on CBS earned an 18.4 overnight rating and a 33 share in the nation's 55 largest markets. Each ratings point is worth 1.5 million homes.


Denver punter Todd Sauerbrun faces an assault charge for an incident Saturday night with a cab driver outside a Denver restaurant, a case that could bring more discipline from the NFL.

Sauerbrun was suspended for the first month of last season after using ephedra, a banned dietary supplement.

Denver police said Sauerbrun was cited for simple assault.


An unidentified fan attending Sunday's game against the Vikings at San Francisco's Monster Park died when he fell at least 20 feet from an upper concourse to the mezzanine level, police said.

The man, 31, "tried to jump up on one of the walls to sit, and he misjudged and he fell," Police Sgt. Neville Gittens told the San Francisco Chronicle.

San Francisco quarterback Trent Dilfer is unlikely to play against Cincinnati on Saturday after suffering a concussion in the 27-7 loss to Minnesota.

On the hot seat.

After a 44-20 loss to Indianapolis on Sunday night, Baltimore is 4-9. However, Ravens coach Brian Billick assured reporters that he would return next season.

St. Louis coach Scott Linehan said he received a vote of confidence from Rams president John Shaw a few days before Sunday's 19-10 loss in Cincinnati. The Rams are 3-10.

Time change.

Minnesota's Dec. 23 home game against the Washington Redskins was moved from an afternoon time on Fox to NBC's

Sunday Night Football

at 8:15 as part of the NFL's flexible scheduling.


Tampa Bay quarterback Jeff Garcia is expected to return to the lineup this week after missing two games and most of a third with a lower-back bruise. . . . Shawne Merriman, San Diego's all-pro outside linebacker, will miss Sunday's home game against Detroit because of a sprained ligament in his left knee suffered Sunday at Tennessee. . . . Buffalo Bills safety George Wilson will miss the rest of the regular season with two broken ribs. . . . Quarterback Kyle Orton will start ahead of Brian Griese for the Chicago Bears in Monday's game in Minnesota against the Vikings.