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Falcons kick off exhibitions with 21-17 win over Chargers


CANTON, Ohio -- Perry Klein may have tried his last back flip on a football field.

The rookie from C. W. Post stumbled on the landing when he tried a back flip after scrambling for five yards and the winning touchdown with 37 seconds to play to give the Atlanta Falcons a 21-17 victory over the San Diego Chargers in the annual Hall of Fame game that kicks off the NFL exhibition season.

Klein, a fourth-round draft pick who is fighting veteran Bob Gagliano for the team's No. 3 quarterback job behind Jeff George and Bobby Hebert, said, "I just was excited. My dad said, 'If you score, you've got to do a flip.' When I was younger, he taught me gymnastics. He said, 'Be an athlete out there.' I've got to stay real cool. I can't do any more of that kind of stuff and keep an even keel."

It was a typical first exhibition game with the team's starting quarterbacks -- George of the Falcons and Stan Humphries of the Chargers -- seeing limited action.

George completed six of eight passes for 44 yards and Humphries three of seven for 66 yards.

The most noteworthy aspect of the game was that it was the debut of the NFL's experiment with radio helmets. The coach can speak to the quarterback until the radio automatically cuts off with 15 seconds left on the play clock. The QB can only listen. He can't talk to the coach.

The helmets got mixed reviews. Humphries has an old helmet, and the receiver won't fit in it. He put it in his shoulder pads, but it didn't work.

Humphries said he thinks it's mainly an asset for young quarterbacks.

"I'm not sold on it. I don't see how much quicker it makes it. I think what it'll do is help young quarterbacks more than a veteran guy. I don't think it saves any time as far as signaling," he said.

Klein, a young quarterback, liked the radio helmet.

"Signals sometimes take a long time to get in. It's a lot easier when you can sit right in the huddle and you don't really have to look at the coach. . . . It helps a lot. It's really an advantage," Klein said.

George, who made his debut as a Falcon after being obtained in an off-season trade with Indianapolis, was more enthusiastic than Humphries.

"I think it worked out really well," he said. "I think you're going to see a lot of teams go to the no-huddle now. It's a plus for the offense," George said.

Atlanta 7 0 7 7 21

San Diego 7 10 0 0 17

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