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Falcons' trio approaching milestones

FLOWERY BRANCH - Michael Vick says the Falcons' game at Tampa Bay Sunday is ''a make or break game'' for the team's playoff hopes, and Vick says making the playoffs is more important than reaching statistical milestones.

But even with the emphasis on the playoff race, Vick didn't deny he also was thinking about his pursuit of NFL history.

The surprising note is Vick could become the first NFL quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards Sunday at Tampa Bay, and he still might not claim the day's biggest milestone on the Atlanta team. That honor might belong to 46-year-old kicker Morten Andersen.

It could be a huge week for the Falcons and NFL records:

•Andersen is seven points away from becoming the NFL's all-time leading scorer.

•Vick is 40 yards away from posting the most rushing yards by a quarterback in a season. He is 71 yards away from becoming the first quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.

•Warrick Dunn needs 48 yards rushing for his third straight 1,000-yard season and the fifth of his career.

•Dunn and Vick are trying to become only the fourth set of teammates to each rush for 1,000 yards in a season. The last NFL duo to reach the mark was Cleveland's Kevin Mack and Earnest Byner in 1985. The only other NFL teammates to each rush for 1,000 yards in the same season were Pittsburgh's Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier in 1976 and Miami's Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris in 1972.

Each of the milestones should be a lock if Andersen, Vick and Dunn avoid injury. The Falcons (6-6) have four games left.

The Andersen scoring watch was renewed when he was signed by the Falcons on Sept. 19 for his second stint with the team, two days after punter and kickoff specialist Michael Koenen was 0-for-4 on field-goal attempts against Tampa Bay.

Andersen, 46, began the season 77 points behind Gary Anderson's record 2,434 points. He gained ground quickly by kicking five field goals against Arizona on Oct. 1 to earn NFC special teams player of the week.

Andersen has scored seven or more points in five games this season, so he could finally become the NFL's scoring king this week.

''He's going to get it eventually, and it'll be fun when he does,'' Falcons coach Jim Mora said Wednesday.

''How big is it? It's gigantic. It's the all-time scoring leader in the history of the National Football League. It's gigantic. As he said today, 'It's taken me a long time to get there.' What an achievement.''

Andersen also is one field goal behind Anderson's NFL mark of 538.

''It just means you've been around for a long time,'' Andersen said of his chase for the scoring record. ''You've had good people around you and you've had good fortune. If you win the game and I break the record, it will really mean something. It won't mean that much to me if we lose the football game.''

Andersen was not with a team last year, but he continued to work out regularly even when he did not break camp with a team this season. The long wait for another NFL opportunity gave him more time to think about the scoring record.

''I think being out a year kind of clarifies some things for you and put things in perspective,'' he said. ''Being close to it, it's something you want to try and go get. Right now in the midst of it, it's hard to reflect on something that you haven't accomplished yet.''

The scoring record is about longevity. Vick's march on the league record for yards rushing by a quarterback - 968 yards by Chicago's Bobby Douglas in 1972 - is different.

Andersen is extending his game. Vick is changing the NFL game by surpassing the previous standards set by Douglass, Steve Young, Randall Cunningham, Fran Tarkenton, John Elway and Kordell Stewart as quarterbacks who could run.

Douglass and Cunningham (942 yards in 1990) are the only other quarterbacks to have rushed for 900 yards in a season. Vick, 26, is on pace to rush for 1,239 yards.

''I'd like to be able to say I rushed for 1,000 yards this season,'' Vick said Wednesday. ''It's going to mean a lot to me, even though it seems like I didn't try hard to get there.

''It's another milestone. We get there and we keep on going.''