Skip to main content

AP Story: Packers Squeak By Falcons, 27-21


Michael Vick provided a tantalizing glimpse of what the NFL can expect this season.

Vick was 6-for-7 for 110 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown pass to Brian Finneran, before the Atlanta Falcons squandered a big lead in their preseason opener, losing to the Green Bay Packers 27-21 Saturday night.

Vick, voted to the Pro Bowl in his first year as a starter, showed no signs of letting up before a raucous Georgia Dome sellout crowd that cheered his every move. Playing just the first quarter, he guided a pair of touchdown drives before another possession stalled out on downs in Green Bay territory.

"We came out early and set the tempo for the game the way we wanted to play,'' Vick said. "We are excited because we did some good things in the first half, and that's exactly what we wanted to see.''

The Packers, coming off a 9-0 loss to Kansas City in a preseason opener shortened by inclement weather, got off to another sloppy start. They trailed 21-3 in the second quarter and jumped offsides five times in the first half, though Atlanta declined two of the penalties.

Green Bay rallied once the starters were done for the night. Najeh Davenport scored on a 3-yard run late in the first half, then sparked a 17-point third quarter with a 4-yard TD run.

Ryan Longwell kicked a 40-yard field goal and Bobby Jackson put the Packers ahead for the first time, scooping up a fumble by Doug Johnson at the Falcons 2 and returning it for a touchdown with 2:49 left in the third quarter.

Johnson, Atlanta's No. 2 quarterback, was 12 of 22 for 103 yards, with a 7-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Duckett. But Johnson also was sacked three times behind a makeshift line.

Brett Favre went only two series for Green Bay, completing 4-for-7 for 32 yards. His backup, Doug Pederson, played one possession as coach Mike Sherman decided to get an extensive look at two guys battling for the No. 3 quarterback job, Craig Nall and former first-round pick Akili Smith.

A couple of long returns by Allen Rossum gave Vick good field position to work with on his first two possessions.

Rossum sprinted 49 yards with the opening kickoff, setting up the Falcons at the Green Bay 49. Vick passed to his newest weapon, Peerless Price, for a 13-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage.

Vick also broke off a 9-yard run before Warrick Dunn finished the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run.

Atlanta's next possession began after a 17-yard punt return by Rossum. Dunn broke off a 21-yard run on a draw, and Vick did the rest. At the Green Bay 43, he looked one way, then threw to the end zone for an open Finneran, who somehow had gotten matched up with a linebacker.

On Vick's last possession, he threw a short pass to George Layne that turned into a 37-yard gain. But the left-hander finally threw an incompletion on third-and-4 at the Green Bay 29, then was sacked on fourth down by Chukie Nwokorie and Jamal Reynolds.

Nall helped his chances by completing eight of 13 passes for 80 yards. Smith, on the other hand, showed why his career has never taken off since he was picked No. 3 overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1999.

Smith threw one pass that should have picked off by Kevin McCadam and missed a potential TD by overshooting an open receiver. Finally, he was intercepted by Recardo Wimbush on a throw over the middle.

With a bunch of no-names on the field, the Falcons had a late chance to win the game, getting first-and-goal at the Packers 1 after a pass interference call. But No. 4 tight end Derek Rackley dropped a pass in the end zone and Green Bay's Jacoby Shepherd fell on the ball after fourth-string running back Fred Talley fumbled.

Both teams also experienced potentially serious injuries. Green Bay, already missing several key players, had cornerback Bryant Westbrook hobble off the field with an injury to his right Achilles' tendon. Falcons linebacker Twan Russell jammed his left knee _ the same knee that required surgery last season and has been bothering him all through camp.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content