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Associated Press Falcons running back Jerious Norwood, right, scores a touchdown on a eight-yard pass from quarterback Matt Ryan (not shown) as Vikings linebacker Ben Leber attempts the tackle during the second quarter Sunday at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.

Vikings fail to clinch North title

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- When Mike Smith took over as coach of the Atlanta Falcons in January, he inherited a team still smarting from Bobby Petrino's defection and sickened by Michael Vick's incarceration.

Less than an hour after watching his team clinch a most unlikely playoff berth, things are coming together much faster than even the white-haired optimist ever could imagine.

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