Originally created 11/23/04

Coach expects even better things from Falcons

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. - Michael Vick and the Atlanta Falcons already have posted some impressive numbers.

Just wait, says Falcons coach Jim Mora.

"We've just scratched the surface of what we can become," Mora said Monday.

At 8-2 after Sunday's 14-10 win over the New York Giants, the Falcons have a four-game lead over Tampa Bay and New Orleans in the NFC South. They play host to the Saints next Sunday and visit the Buccaneers Dec. 5.

The only other season the Falcons won eight of their first 10 games was 1998, when they advanced to the Super Bowl.

Even though the division is all but clinched, Mora says the Falcons have no reason to celebrate.

"We haven't done anything yet," Mora said. "We're not in the playoffs, we haven't won the division, and we don't have home-field advantage. We don't have a bye. We don't have a winning season. We haven't done anything yet."

With his 104 yards rushing against the Giants, Vick became the first quarterback in league history with five career 100-yard games. He has three 100-yard games this season.

"There are a lot more to come," Mora said. "It's pretty amazing."

Vick has rushed for 640 yards this season, already the fifth-highest total by a quarterback in league history. Vick could soon own the list; his 777 yards rushing in 2002 ranks third.

Vick is on pace to become the first quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards. At his current pace he would finish with 1,024 yards, which would break the record of 968 yards by Chicago's Bobby Douglass in 1972. Randall Cunningham is second with 942 yards rushing for Philadelphia in 1990.

Vick set the NFL mark for quarterbacks by rushing for 173 yards at Minnesota on Dec. 1, 2002.

Critics continue to point to Vick's modest passing numbers - nine touchdown passes and an 83.7 quarterback rating.

"I can't sit here and try to justify why I think somebody's perception of the way I play should be different, but it's all good," Vick said. "I'm going to play my game and I'm going to be the best at it. That's all I can say."

Vick was limited to four starts late in the 2003 season after suffering a broken right leg in the preseason, but he has sprinted through 10 games this year with no injury concerns.

"What's awesome is for all the concern about Mike running the ball and being susceptible to injury, he's done a good job of avoiding big collisions for the most part," Mora said.

Vick was sent flying, feet over his head, at the end of a run Sunday. Mora says he doesn't worry about Vick on those plays and says Vick is learning to avoid contact at the end of other runs.

"He has done a nice job of sliding under things and getting out of bounds without getting hurt," Mora said.

The Falcons managed only four first downs and 65 yards in the second half after leading the Giants 14-0 at halftime.

"There's always that one big play you can make to put the game out of reach," Vick said. "We've been missing that play, but as long as we keep our minds set on getting win number nine, it'll eventually come."

Notes: Fullback Justin Griffith suffered a slight tear of the posterior cruciate ligament. If Griffith can't play this week, Stanley Pritchett would move up as the starter.... The Falcons are 4-1 on the road and 6-1 in NFC games.... Peerless Price was held without a catch, ending his streak at 80 consecutive games with at least one catch.


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