Buddy Ryan has to wait another year to give Arizona the winner he guaranteed when he took over the Cardinals this season.

Arizona finished 8-8 under Ryan, dropping a 10-6 decision to the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday when Ronald Moore was stopped by linebacker Jessie Tuggle on the last play of the game from the Atlanta 1."You don't deserve to win if you can't just go in there and jump over the line for one score," Ryan said.

As it turned out, even had Moore scored it wouldn't have been enough to move the Cardinals into the playoffs, as Ryan had promised. Those hopes faded with 7:21 remaining in their final game when the New York Giants beat Dallas 15-10.

Ryan said he had no reaction when the Giants victory was announced to the crowd in the Georgia Dome. ". . . it didn't matter the way we were playing," he said.

Tuggle's game-saving tackle left the Falcons with a 7-9 record in their first year under June Jones, who had been an assistant to Jerry Glanville for four years.

Ryan criticized Jones earlier in the week, saying that he was in the league when Jones was trying to play quarterback, emphasizing trying. He then said Jones was now trying to coach.

Jones couldn't hide his elation.

Asked if he got any satisfaction out of beating Ryan, Jones said, "Yes, very much so. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy. I don't want to get into all of that. I respect Buddy. He's a good coach, but I'm sending a game ball to Kevin Gilbride."

Ryan punched Gilbride on the jaw last year during a game when both were assistant coaches with the Houston Oilers.

Arizona almost pulled this one out anyway, taking over at midfield with 1:25 left and no timeouts remaining.

Jay Schroeder's 40-yard pass to Gary Clark gave the Cardinals a first down at the Atlanta 2 as the clock wound down. Arizona tried to get in position for a final play and Schroeder managed to take the snap with three seconds left. Atlanta was called for offsides when Mel Agee failed to get on his side of the line of scrimmage in time, resulting in a 1-yard penalty to the 1.

Moore took a crack at the middle on the final play and was stopped short of the end zone by Tuggle.

"It's heartbreaking to go all of the way down the field and not score," Schroeder said. "We have to find ways to make plays."

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The Falcons led throughout after Jeff George connected with rookie Bert Emanuel on an 85-yard scoring play in the opening quarter. Emanuel got behind Terry Hoage to make the catch at the Atlanta 40, and easily outran Hoage to the end zone.

George, playing with a cast on his broken left finger (non-throwing hand) played just over a quarter, completing 5 of 10 for 125 yards.

Atlanta's other score came on Norm Johnson's 24-yard field goal in the third quarter, capping a 90-yard drive engineered by Bobby Hebert that featured a 40-yard pass to Darryl Spencer and a 23-yard pass to Craig Heyward.

"I feel like I've been in a car wreck," said Hebert, who took solid hits as many of his passes were being thrown.

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