IRVING, Texas - Whether it was the absence of starting right tackle Todd Weiner or just the offensive line's turn to suffer a poor first half, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick had inadequate protection Saturday night.
The result, a bruised right elbow, could keep Atlanta's franchise cornerstone from starting the preseason finale in five days. Vick walked slowly off the field after Dallas defensive ends Greg Ellis and Ebenezer Ekuban applied a sandwich sack in the second quarter.
Vick was escorted off the field by team doctor Randy Cronic before halftime, his elbow heavily wrapped in ice. But when he returned to cheer on his teammates in the third quarter, Vick had his injury wrapped only with an ace bandage and some tape.
Atlanta (3-0 in the preseason) opens the regular season Sept. 8 at Green Bay. The Falcons play their last exhibition game Thursday night at Cincinnati.
Vick, a left-hander, was without Weiner, the man responsible for protecting his blind side. Weiner remained in Atlanta with a bruised left shoulder. Vick, though, seemed to be in good spirits as he spoke with a reporter on the sideline during the third quarter of the Falcons' 21-19 victory.
"I just got hit and I lost the feeling in it for a little bit," Vick said after completing three of six passes for 17 yards and scrambling once for seven yards and a first down. "The X-rays are negative. It won't set me back, but still I wanted to get as many reps as possible."
At least he got to watch two touchdown passes from Doug Johnson and another from third-stringer Kurt Kittner, a fifth-round draft pick from Illinois.
Johnson hit Willie Jackson for an 18-yard score on a fly pattern down the left seam. Jackson caught the ball over his right shoulder in the end zone to beat cornerback Jason Bell for a 7-3 Atlanta lead with 54 seconds left in the second quarter.
"I had single coverage with Willie," said Johnson, who completed 14 of 21 passes for 195 yards, two scores and two interceptions. "The defender had an inside technique, and it's hard to defend when your back is to me. Willie ran a great route, and I put the ball where it needed to be."
Only 49 seconds into the fourth quarter, Johnson threw a 41-yard bomb to a wide-open Alvis Whitted at the 5, who took it in for the score and a 14-13 lead.
With 8:21 remaining, Kittner, who was 3-for-5 passing for 42 yards, connected with and tight end Brian Kozlowski on a 30-yarder that made it 21-13.
The Falcons weren't without their rough spots. On a pass intended for Darrin Chiaverini, Johnson was intercepted by Marcus Steele on the third play of the third quarter. Steele ran untouched down the left side for a 34-yard score that gave Dallas (2-1) a 13-7 lead.
Johnson may not have seen Steele with backup safety Tony Dixon stunting from the middle of the line and hammering the Atlanta quarterback when right guard Kynan Forney pulled to his left on what appeared to be a busted play.
On the play following Kittner's touchdown pass, the Falcons allowed former Clemson quarterback Woodrow Dantzler, now a reserve Cowboys running back, to return a kickoff 97 yards.
Former South Carolina quarterback Anthony Wright moved the Cowboys down the field in the final two minutes for a chance to win. But Dallas rookie kicker Billy Cundiff missed a 22-yard field goal with six seconds remaining. Cundiff, who is battling incumbent Cowboys kicker Tim Seder for the job, hit the right crossbar. The Cowboys also were called for holding on the play.
The Falcons finished with only 41 net yards rushing, but the good news was their 244 net yards through the air.
Dallas rushed for 135 yards and passed through 171 with 1:41 remaining. The Cowboys were just 1-for-10 on third-down attempts and committed 14 penalties for 100 yards.