Originally created 12/12/04

Falcons look to yet again bounce back



ATLANTA - No wonder Michael Vick can't wait to get back on the field. These are the times when he's usually at his best.

The Atlanta Falcons quarterback had a miserable game last week, fumbling twice and throwing two interceptions in a 27-0 loss to Tampa Bay. From a passing efficiency standpoint, it was his second-worst game of the season.

"I'm going into this game with a chip on my shoulder and will try to play a perfect game," Vick said, looking ahead to today's matchup with the Oakland Raiders (1 p.m., CBS-Ch. 12). "I know that's crazy for me to be saying, but that's my goal for the week: try to go out and play perfect."

Well, it's not that crazy.

Vick's worst performance of the season came seven weeks ago at Kansas City. He completed only seven of his 21 passes, not counting two to the Chiefs, and the Falcons were routed 56-10.

But Vick bounced back the next week at Denver with one of the most unique performances in NFL history, becoming the first quarterback to throw for 250 yards (252 and two touchdowns) and rush for 100 yards (115, including a 44-yarder) in the same game.

Rallying from a 14-3 deficit, the Falcons beat the Broncos 41-28, a seminal victory that propelled Atlanta to the brink of the third division title in franchise history.

Vick also had a big game in a 21-20 victory over San Diego, which came after Atlanta's first loss of the season.

"After a loss, I always feel like there was something in the game that I could have done better," he said. "So, what I try to tell myself and try to reiterate to myself is that I have to go out and make it up in the next game. That's my mind-set: Go out and complete every pass I throw, and every time I take off and run, I'm taking off to score."

That can't be encouraging news for Oakland (4-8), which has one of the worst defenses in the NFL. The Raiders haven't had much success against the run (24th in the league) or the pass (26th) - and now they're facing a quarterback who can do both.

Oakland safety Ray Buchanan spent the past seven years with the Falcons. Now, he's facing Vick from the other side of the line.

"I never wanted to see it, but I've got to do it," Buchanan said with a weak laugh. "I used to say that on the sideline: 'Man, I wouldn't want to go play against this dude.' He's doing some incredible things. Even when I was there, I didn't see him doing some of the things he's doing now, the way he's running the football."

Vick is averaging 7.4 yards every time he runs the ball and is on pace to gain more than 1,000 yards this season.

He teams with Warrick Dunn and T.J. Duckett to give the Falcons the top rushing offense in the league.

"(Vick) is a one-man circus out there," said Stuart Schweigert, a rookie safety for the Raiders. "He can do a ton of things. We just have to make sure we try to contain him as much as possible."