ATLANTA (AP) -- Michael Vick feigned a pass to escape one
defender, got past another by breaking a tackle and tiptoed down
the sideline for a 44-yard touchdown on his final play of the day.
Question on the Panthers: Are they in the midst of a monstrous losing streak similar to last year's?
Yes, I believe so -- until they can get QB Rodney Peete back (which I'm surprised to say). The veteran has been their most effective offensive weapon this year. The Panthers have a great defense, but right now the offense isn't able to keep the D off the field. So until Peete returns from his knee injury, the Panthers will have problems.
Question on the Falcons: Can they make a run at the playoffs?
In their division, it will be a difficult task. But QB Michael Vick is an exciting player with exciting potential. As he matures and as the Falcons upgrade their personnel, the Falcons will be playoff contenders in the future.
Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.
He kept right on running, disappearing into the tunnel, probably
looking for a television so he could watch what he just did.
"It's amazing,'' Vick said, shaking his head. "I just get up
after some plays and say, 'Oh, man, I can't wait to see that one on
Not bad for a guy who missed the previous game with an ailing
shoulder. Not bad for a guy who played only three quarters.
"He's a freak,'' Falcons defensive end Patrick Kerney said. "A
human can't do what he's doing. He's a genetic step above the rest
of the NFL. We better be careful. The Army is going to kidnap him,
brainwash us all so we don't know where he went and create an army
of Michael Vick clones.''
Vick had all sorts of plays worthy of the highlight film, saving
the best for last. His 44-yard touchdown was the second-longest run
by a quarterback in Falcons history, eclipsed only by Bob Berry's
45-yarder in 1968.
"Hey, it's just an ability I have,'' Vick said with a shrug.
The second-year quarterback completed 16 of 22 passes for 178
yards, ran six times for 91 yards and got credit for 28 yards
receiving after running with a lateral -- all against the
second-ranked defense in the NFL.
"It's totally different than reading about him or seeing him on
film or TV,'' Panthers safety Mike Minter said. "The guy is quick,
fast and strong. I mean, we had him dead-on a couple of times.''
Atlanta (3-3) moved past the Panthers in the NFC South, winning
for the third time in four games. Carolina (3-4) is heading in the
opposite direction, losing its fourth straight after starting the
Unlike the last three defeats, which were by a total of seven
points, this one wasn't close. Atlanta posted its first shutout
since a 13-0 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Nov. 14, 1993.
Carolina, playing without No. 1 quarterback Rodney Peete, did
nothing on offense. The Panthers didn't cross midfield until late
in the third quarter and didn't come close to scoring until the
Chris Weinke started at quarterback, but he was knocked out in
the first half with a possible concussion after going just 3-of-8
for 26 yards.
Third-stringer Randy Fasani, a rookie from Stanford, went the
rest of the way and didn't show much in his pro debut unless he was
"When you've got a rookie in there who's never thrown a pass in
the NFL, you feel like sicking the dogs on him,'' said Kerney, who
had two sacks. "Nothing against him, but he's an inexperienced
Rookie T.J. Duckett, Atlanta's first-round draft pick, scored
the first two touchdowns of his career.
But this day belonged to Vick, who had 92 more yards by himself
than the Panthers managed as a team.
Vick had vowed that he wouldn't try to protect his right
shoulder if he was healthy enough to play. He was true to his word.
"If I have to go half-speed, I'd rather sit on the bench,'' he
Vick got things rolling by sprinting 28 yards with a lateral
from offensive tackle Todd Weiner, who had come down with a
deflected pass deep in the Falcons backfield.
But Vick was at his best on a 12-play, 79-yard drive that ate up
nearly 10 minutes of the third quarter. He was 6-of-6 passing for
69 yards and ran twice for 25 yards.
One fan held up a sign: "You can't stop him.'' The guy next to
him held up another placard: "U can only hope to contain him.''
Just ask Carolina end Mike Rucker, who nearly sacked Vick in the
end zone at the start of the long drive, only to have him break
free and throw a 21-yard pass to Shawn Jefferson. Vick also escaped
up the middle for a 24-yard run, actually sliding at the end of the
play to preserve his health.
Vick has been reticent to slide, but he got some tips Friday
from Atlanta Braves coach Terry Pendleton.
Duckett finished the drive by powering over from the 1 to make
Duckett also scored on a 7-yard run late in the first half. The
margin would have been more than 10-0 at halftime if Weiner had not
been called for holding in the final minute, wiping out Vick's
68-yard touchdown pass to Willie Jackson.
It didn't matter. The Falcons took the second-half kickoff and
held the ball for 9:52, finishing the game with a staggering
advantage of 20:16 in time of possession.
Vick broke his own team record for rushing yards by a
quarterback. He had 72 in the season-opening loss to Green Bay. ...
The Panthers, who ranked 29th in third-down conversions coming in,
didn't help their percentage by going 3-of-11. ... Falcons CB Ray Buchanan had an interception in his return to the lineup after
serving a four-game suspension for using steroids. ... Travis
Jervey, a key player on the Atlanta special teams, was injured late
in the game while running the ball. Doctors believe he tore the ACL
in his left knee.