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Irons gets first tackle, first win in NFL

ATLANTA - Even with DeAngelo Hall held out for the first quarter, Falcons rookie David Irons didn't get any playing time at cornerback Sunday against the Houston Texans.

But it was still a memorable game for the former Dacula and Auburn standout.

"Kenny can't say anything this week," Irons said of the trash talking that is a constant with his younger brother, a rookie running back on injured reserve with the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Falcons special teams ace got his first tackle and first victory in the NFL as Atlanta beat Houston 26-16 at the Georgia Dome.

"And my college team won, too," said Irons, definitely still enjoying Auburn's upset at Florida on Saturday night.

But a Falcons victory was even bigger after an 0-3 start featuring plenty of turmoil and controversy.

"Man, it was good to finally get a win," Irons said in the happy Falcons locker room.

It was also nice to get that first tackle, which showed the quick and aggressive Irons at his best.

The Texans double-teamed Irons, trying to hold him up on Michael Koenen's punt early in the second quarter. But Irons, lined up to the left side, faked them both out and raced up the center of the field.

Koenen's booming kick traveled 49 yards, with Dexter Wynn catching it at his own 22. Irons was about five yards away.

Houston faked a reverse. Irons didn't bite.

Soon, Wynn was on the turf at the 19 after losing three yards. Irons jumped to his feet and headed off the field to the roar of the crowd and the congratulations of his Falcons teammates.

The sixth-round draft pick had done his job to perfection.

"The coaches told me that the Texans would probably put their two best guys on me, but I beat the vice," Irons said. "I got down there too fast in Jacksonville two weeks and got a penalty, so I held up just a little bit so he'd have room to catch the punt.

"When they faked that reverse, I hesitated a little to make sure what was happening, then ran like a hyena to make the tackle. It felt good, man. Real good."

With Hall being disciplined, Irons thought that he might get his first extended time at cornerback, but it didn't happen.

Fellow rookie Chris Houston, a second-round draft choice from Arkansas, started at right corner, with Lewis Sanders moving over to the spot on the left side that normally belongs to Hall.

Fined $100,000 for his sideline tirade the week before after a three-penalty meltdown, Hall spent the first quarter on the sidelines in a white Falcons baseball cap turned backwards.

But as soon as the teams changed sides to start the second quarter, Hall put on his helmet and trotted onto the field in the middle of a Texans possession.

"I didn't know if I'd get in there or not," said Irons, who is listed as Hall's backup at left cornerback. "But I told the coaches I'd be ready if they needed me and I practiced hard all week"

For now, Irons' role is on special teams, where he is the Falcons' top coverage man.

"I just want to go out there and help the team any way that I can," Irons said. "This team has gone through a lot, but we keep fighting. This was our first win, but we'll get a lot more. No one is quitting."

The victory was the first for the Falcons since beating Tampa Bay on Dec. 10 last season, when Michael Vick was still the quarterback and hopes were much, much higher.

Joey Harrington, Vick's replacement, had a solid game, completing 23 of 29 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Michael Jenkins had six catches, with TDs of 5 and 7 yards.

Matt Schaub, dealt to Houston in the offseason, was 28 of 40 for 317 yards passing and one touchdown, a 35-yard strike to Andre Davis in the first quarter.

Having already said too much, Hall slipped out of the locker room after the game without talking to the media.

Coach Bobby Petrino, who was presented the game ball by owner Arthur Blank after his first victory, was obviously happy to look ahead to Sunday's game at Tennessee after a trying week.

"I'm really satisfied that's behind us," Petrino said. "The best part is we both walked into the locker room and we both had big smiles on our faces."

A victory will change a lot of things.

SideBar: GWINNETT NFL PLAYERS

Week 4 update on NFL players from Gwinnett County:

Jeff Backus, OT, Lions (Norcross)

100th straight start in 37-27 victory over Bears

Jason Elam, PK, Broncos (Brookwood)

Two field goals in 38-20 loss to Colts

David Greene, QB, Patriots (South Gwinnett)

On New England practice squad

Stephon Heyer, OT, Redskins (Brookwood)

Washington (2-1) had bye week

David Irons, CB, Falcons (Dacula)

Punt tackle for loss in 26-16 win over Texans

Jon Stinchcomb, OT, Saints (Parkview)

New Orleans (0-3) had bye week

Mansfield Wrotto, OG, Seahawks (Brookwood)

Inactive again for 23-3 victory over 49ers