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Wrapping Up Week 8

A few days ago I blasted Vick for choosing to throw his teammates under the bus and questioning his role in the offense. I said, and I quote:

Come back a month from now with improved accuracy and more days like you had on Sunday and I'll be perfectly willing to listen. If Oven Mitts handles another TD pass like a flaming Christmas ham, I'll listen. If you hit Roddy White in the chest and he practically throws it to a cornerback, I'll listen. But until then, I'd really like to see you take a page from Byron Leftwich and do the best you can with what you have.

Well, it certainly hasn't been a month yet, but color me extremely impressed. For the first time, I feel like Vick has actually put it together. Even last year's three game streak was less than completely stellar. This year, though? This streak has come against the Steelers and Bengals, two very capable defensive teams, and Vick has posted eye popping numbers. On Sunday he threw for 291 yards, 3 TDs, and no interceptions. Even more impressively, he directly challenged my "52% passer" criticism by completing 20 of 28 passes. Over the last two games, he's now thrown 7 TDs against only 2 interceptions. Holy shit.

And this leads us quite nicely into the game, which the Falcons only won by two points. I'm going to contend that the score was not an accurate barometer of how well the Falcons played yesterday: as soon as the Falcons were up 29-20, I said "game over". It was pretty clear by the competence of the defense and the thrilling nature of the offense that the Falcons were not going to let that one slip away. The offense was a huge part of this, of course. Oven Mitts made a nice grab for a TD, Crumpler continued to dominate with an awesome catch in double coverage, and Vick spread the ball around like a teacher with candy. The running game piled up over a hundred yards with Dunn not having a great day, but didn't have that much effect on the outcome of the game until the end, when they were asked to run the clock off. And the Bengals just looked helpless against the Falcons on third down, with Vick waltzing around and throwing lasers all over the place.

The defense is starting to slip, however. After the first couple weeks, scribes everywhere were trumpeting our ability to keep our erstwhile opponents out of the endzone. Now? Eh, not so much. The Steelers and Bengals are both fine offensive clubs, the Bengals more so than the Steelers as of late, but letting up 38 and 27 points is usually grounds for two straight losses. The secondary spent most of the day playing the part of scorched earth. Hall was beat up a little by Johnson and Wesbster got screwed over all day, especially on his nifty should've been interception where he was pretending to be a hole in the ground. Rudi Johnson was pretty effective against us, especially at first, but he's a very good back and I remain unworried by our run defense. That secondary is going to have to learn and soon, though, because Chris Crocker can't draw boneheaded penalties forever.

Special teams? Dandy! Kudos to Morten, who proved he can kick field goals from longer than 40 yards, provided you wake him up from his nap 15 minutes early. The return team didn't do anything particularly stupid, either, so that's that for that.

So what can you take away from this game? The Falcons are an improving offense and a declining defense; and if the defense can get back to what it was doing, I feel very bad for Detroit and Cleavland the next two weeks. Another great win for the Falcons.

Game MVP: Vick
Game Theme Song: Janie's Got a Gun by Aerosmith (Replace Janie with Vick)
One Thing to Take Away: Vick is an improving passer and should be able to show off his arm again the next two weeks. That will continue to be a key.
Next Week: Detroit Lions, who are fresh off a bye week in which they can prepare for us....good luck, Lions!
Final World: Great win for the Falcons, who once again squeaked one out against a team that was favored for the second week in a row. The Falcons are starting to look like one of the Top 4 in the NFC. Let's see.