FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. - Is Michael Vick's recent passing success the beginning of a frightening prospect for opposing defenders or just another false start?
Falcons fans are familiar with the stats: In the past two games, Vick has thrown for 523 yards with seven touchdowns and two interceptions. Before the Pittsburgh game, Vick had just three touchdowns.
The next opportunity for Vick to prove that his arm is as big a threat as his legs comes today in Detroit.
"Each and every week it is going to be a different challenge, different defensive fronts, different stunts and formations," Vick said Wednesday, after being named NFC Offensive Player of the Week following a three-touchdown performance against the Cincinnati Bengals. "It is a challenge."
Opportunities don't come much better than squaring off against the 24th-ranked passing defense in the league. The Lions have given up an average of 237.6 yards a game through the air.
The Lions have taken note of Vick's airborne outburst.
"Everyone knows he is lights-out when he runs the football, but this year his touch seems better," Detroit cornerback Dre Bly said. "Everyone knew before he had a rifle for an arm, but now he has a softer touch and a little more accuracy."
For his part, Vick said he would like to keep throwing.
"Hopefully we can continue to put the ball in the air a little bit more," he said.
Meanwhile, the Falcons defenders face their own obstacle in the new Lions offense, run by first-year coordinator Mike Martz. It was Martz whose offense became known as the "Greatest Show on Turf" during his time with the St. Louis Rams.
"He's as aggressive a play caller as there is in the National Football League," Falcons head coach Jim Mora said of Martz.
Led by veteran quarterback Jon Kitna and receiver Roy Williams, the Lions are throwing for nearly 250 yards a game. Williams has caught 38 passes for 581 yards, good for seventh-best in the NFL, and scored three touchdowns.
"If you can make people defend the entire field, you can have good success, and they've done that," Mora said.
And Atlanta has fared little better than Detroit when it comes to containing the pass, ranking just a few spots ahead of the Lions in yards allowed.
"That offense has that same potency that the Rams displayed for so many years," Falcons cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. "To say that we need to get out here and step it up is an understatement."
All but two of Detroit's six losses came by a touchdown or less. including both of their home losses. Detroit is also coming off the bye week.
"You throw records out every week, and you see wacky things happen," Mora said.
Reach Brandon Larrabee at (404) 681-1701 or firstname.lastname@example.org.