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"We could still get in (Monday) night, depending on what happens with the game," Sharper said. "It's not just about winning to get in, it's winning at the end of the season so you go into the playoffs on a positive note and this was not a positive note for us."
The weekend couldn't have gone better for Atlanta, with Dallas falling to Baltimore at home Saturday night and then Tampa Bay losing to San Diego earlier Sunday.
That paved the way for one of the NFL's most surprising teams to secure a playoff berth at the site of perhaps the franchise's signature victory.
Just less than 10 years ago, the Falcons walked into the thunderous Metrodome as heavy underdogs to Minnesota's offensive machine for the NFC championship game. Those throughout Minnesota still lament Gary Anderson's 38-yard missed field goal in regulation and coach Dennis Green's decision to take a knee at the end of regulation.
Those in Hotlanta surely will never forget Jamal Anderson's "Dirty Bird" and Morten Andersen's 38-yard winning field goal in overtime that propelled the Falcons to their only Super Bowl appearance.
This time around, Turner scored on a 1-yard plunge on the opening drive, Ryan threw an 8-yard shovel pass TD to Jerious Norwood and the Falcons scored 10 points off three Minnesota turnovers in the first half, including a fumbled punt by Bernard Berrian.
"It feels so good," cornerback Chris Houston said. "Just to come from where we came from last year, it's a big step."
Notes: The Vikings sorely missed NT Pat Williams in the middle. Williams missed the game with a fractured shoulder, ending his consecutive games streak at 101. ... Shiancoe had a career-high 136 yards receiving. ... The Falcons allowed only two sacks to a team that was third in the league coming into the game in that category.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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