Originally created 11/10/05

Could No. 7 and T.O. team up in Atlanta?



FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. - Michael Vick wouldn't mind having Terrell Owens line up at receiver for the Atlanta Falcons - as long as T.O. understands one thing.

"This is my team," Vick said Wednesday.

Besides, No. 7 already has provided a resounding response to those who criticize his passing numbers and deride him as nothing more than a freak of an athlete masquerading as a quarterback.

Last week, Vick completed a season-best 22-of-31 passes for 228 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions in a 17-10 victory at Miami.

Asked if he was out to prove a point, Vick shrugged his shoulders and said, "Kind of, sort of. I just wanted to win the game. I did whatever it took to win the game. That is what it took."

Vick still ranks 26th in the league in passing efficiency, working with a group of nondescript receivers led by Brian Finneran (27 receptions, two TDs).

So, it was no surprise when the quarterback's weekly question-and-answer session quickly turned toward Owens, who was suspended by Philadelphia after an interview critical of the organization and teammate Donovan McNabb.

"I think I could play with anybody," Vick said. "It's all if they could play with me. He would have to understand my style of play and what I do. And if he can do that, he can be here. Other than that, this is my team."

Even though Owens issued a public apology Tuesday, the Eagles plan to deactivate him for the rest of the season after his four-game suspension is up.

Owens, of course, is eager to get back on the field. He lives in Atlanta and would certainly be a major upgrade over the Falcons' current group of receivers.

Then again, T.O. has always been a major disruption in the locker room, the kind of player who could upset the tight-knit bond that coach Jim Mora has instilled in his team.

"We understand that it takes 11 guys to win a football game," Vick said. "We do not have any selfish guys on the football team. That is fine with me."

The Falcons' offense is built around the league's most effective running game, and that wouldn't change no matter who's at receiver. Much of the running is done by Vick, who gained nearly 1,000 yards last season and ranks second on the team this year with 340 yards.

"I run the ball a little bit more than other quarterbacks so, that might take away from some of his catches," Vick said, referring to Owens. "You have to be a team player when you come here."

Not that Vick begrudges Owens for wanting to catch as many passes as possible.

"Sometimes being selfish is not a bad thing," Vick said. "Some guys just want the ball. They feel like they can make a difference. There is nothing wrong in that."

Vick can certainly make a difference - even when he spends most of his time in the pocket, which is what he did in a poised, efficient performance against the Dolphins.

"I was happy to see him sit in the pocket," running back Warrick Dunn said. "That's the way he was in the preseason. He was sitting in the pocket longer, making the right reads and making the right throws."

Dunn pointed out that Atlanta's receivers also had one of their best games of the season. Finneran had a career-high eight catches for 92 yards (though he did drop a pass in the end zone). Rookie Roddy White had three catches in his first career start.

"Some of that was Mike, but it was also guys making catches," Dunn said. "You've got to catch the ball to make the quarterback look good."

Vick had another reason for wanting to look good. His little brother, Marcus, had six turnovers in Virginia Tech's 27-7 loss to Miami (the university, not the Dolphins) last weekend.

"It was a tough night for my little brother," Michael said. "I was eager to get out there and just make something happen and pick up the slack a little bit."

Did he have any advice for Marcus?

"Make your next game your best game," Michael told him.

As for No. 7, he wishes people would stop harping on his passing stats and look at the most important numbers for any quarterback: wins and losses.

In his two full years as a starter, Atlanta has made the playoffs both times, reaching the NFC championship game last season. The Falcons (6-2) are on a similar course this year, tied for first in the NFC South heading into Sunday's game against Green Bay (1-7).

Vick's record as a starter is 29-13-1, including 6-1 this season. Only three-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady and McNabb have higher winning percentages among active quarterbacks with at least 35 starts.

"Whatever they want to say, whatever they want to perceive me as - just a running quarterback or a runner - it does not matter," Vick said. "I'm a winner."