After struggling for three quarters, Vick rallied Atlanta from a
10-point deficit with an electrifying display in the fourth. He ran
for one touchdown, threw for another and then helped run out the
clock in the Falcons' 21-20 victory Sunday.
"I feel like I can do almost anything," he said.
Vick could have been with the Chargers, but they traded the No.
1 pick in the 2001 draft to the Falcons.
San Diego did just fine on its end, winding up with LaDainian
Tomlinson and others. And, in the first meeting between the teams
since the deal, the Chargers had the upper hand for 45 minutes.
But, as the final period unfolded, they probably wished they had
"It was time to step up and forget everything that happened
beforehand," Vick said. "I knew what the situation was. I had to
come back and make some plays."
Vick threw for 130 of his 218 yards in the fourth quarter.
The Falcons (5-1) matched their win total from all of last
season, when they struggled to 5-11 with Vick missing most of the
year with a broken leg.
San Diego (3-3) led 17-7 when the Falcons got the ball in the
opening minute of the final period.
To that point, Vick had given scant evidence he would be able to
bring them back. Even with his first touchdown pass in four weeks,
he was just 7-of-16 for 88 yards at that point, and had two carries
for 7 yards.
Suddenly, No. 7 came alive, needing only four plays to reach the
end zone. He threw a 50-yard pass to Peerless Price, then broke off
an 8-yard run. Finally, Vick broke loose around left end and
scooted 14 yards for his first TD rushing of the season.
The Chargers went three-and-out and Vick trotted back out at the
San Diego 47, the good field position resulting from Allen Rossum's
17-yard punt return.
Vick ran for 6 yards and drew a facemask penalty. Two plays
later, he pump-faked and lofted a 32-yard touchdown pass to Dez
White, who beat two defenders in the left corner with 10:12
San Diego drove to the Atlanta 10, but settled for Nate
Kaeding's second field goal, a 28-yarder with 6:04 remaining.
Kaeding also kicked a 53-yarder in the third quarter, the longest
of the rookie's career.
The Chargers were out of timeouts, and they couldn't get the
ball back from Vick. He threw a 20-yard pass to Alge Crumpler, then
sealed the victory with a 24-yarder to Justin Griffith. Vick rolled
to his left as if going to run, luring in two defenders before
flipping the pass to a wide-open Griffith.
"We were on the sideline telling Vick to be Vick," teammate
Chad Lavalais said. "He may look bad at the beginning, but he
always finishes strong. I'm glad he's on our team."
Coach Jim Mora did his best to deflect the attention away from
his quarterback, even growing a bit testy at the repeated questions
"With all respect, it's not about Michael Vick," Mora said.
"Too much is made about No. 7. It's not all about No. 7."
That's not how the Chargers saw it.
"The sleeping giant awoke," said receiver Tim Dwight, who also
went to San Diego in the Vick trade. "All it takes is one play to
ignite your football team, and that's what he brings."
Atlanta ended the Chargers' two-game winning streak and kept
them from matching their win total from last season.
While Vick has struggled to adjust to the Falcons' new West
Coast offense, he seemed to freelance more in the fourth period. It
"What they did is what they always were capable of doing, but
didn't choose to do until late," San Diego coach Marty
Schottenheimer said. "Michael Vick did what Michael Vick can do,
and that's run all over the place with the ball and create first
San Diego lost a couple of players in the first quarter.
Receiver Reche Caldwell was taken off on a cart after hurting his
right knee, while backup defensive end Dave Ball went out with a
toe injury. ... The Falcons were missing DT Rod Coleman, injured
Saturday in a car wreck, and LB Chris Draft (toe). Backup DT Travis
Hall (shoulder) also missed the game.
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