Six seasons. Six seasons of blissful scrambling, magically eluding defenders, and an abundant amount of cheers from fans. After a tumultuous ending to his Falcons career about a decade ago, former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick now gets an opportunity to end his NFL career where it began. As reported, Vick will be honored by the Falcons Monday, and given a chance to take his final bow in Atlanta.
So with the long-awaited decision being made that will allow Vick to walk away as a Falcon, let’s highlight the five biggest moments of his Falcons tenure. Brace yourself, this list may provide a few heart-skipping moments.
5. January 15, 2005: vs. St. Louis Rams - 82 passing yards, 2 TDs, 119 rushing yards
More of an actual game instead of a “moment” but in his first home playoff game with the Falcons, Vick totaled 201 offensive yards and two touchdowns in a 47-17 blowout win for the Falcons.
Considerably early in his career as it was only his third playoff game up to that juncture but the rushing yard total was his sixth most in a game during his entire career. While his passing yard total looks significantly low, Vick so happened to post a 125.5 quarterback rating and his two touchdowns opened the game’s scoring (18-yard pass to Alge Crumpler) and increased the lead to 18 points early in the third quarter (6-yard pass to Peerless Price).
4. October 20, 2002: vs. Carolina Panthers - 44-yard touchdown run
Vick’s first big touchdown in just his seventh career start was a thing of beauty.
On 1st & 10 on the Panthers 44-yard line, up 17-0, Vick dropped back with plenty of pressure in his face initially. As he escaped the collapsing pocket to his right side, Vick pump faked and turned on the jets down right sideline while being chased by several Panthers defenders, including defensive end Julius Peppers. After a failed attempt by the Panthers to knock him out of bounds, Vick magically kept his feet inbounds, and completed the play to put the Falcons up by 23-0 late in the third quarter.
3. 2006 season: first QB to rush for 1,000 yards in a season
In a season that proved to be his final in Atlanta while also being his only losing season as a starter in Atlanta, Vick became the first quarterback in league history to do the impossible: Rush for 1,00 yards in a full season.
Vick also tossed for a then-career high in passing touchdowns with 20, but it was his rushing that resulted in his name being in the record books. During the season, Vick also rushed for over 100 yards in a game on three different occasions (127 vs. TB in Week 2, 101 vs. ARZ in Week 4, 166 vs. NO in Week 11). The electric QB also averaged 8.4 yards per carry that season and a career-high 64.7 yards per game.
2. December 1, 2002: Epic performance against the Minnesota Vikings
On the road against a Randy Moss-led Vikings team, Vick showed the world why he was elite. With 173 passing yards, 173 rushing yards, and three total touchdowns, Vick guided the Falcons to a 30-24 overtime victory over the Vikings.
In walk-off fashion, it was his 46-yard touchdown run in overtime that gave the Falcons their sixth win in their seventh straight game. During the play, Vick showed his game-breaking speed to whiz past the Vikings and split a pair of defenders who collided with each other. The athleticism, the speed, the instincts, the vision, and the competitive pedigree were all on full display on the particular overtime run. This was a play that gave the NFL plenty of notice on how scary Vick was as an all-around playmaker.
1. January 4, 2003: Wild Card game performance at Green Bay
It was unprecedented. Behind the savviness of Vick and solid defensive play from the defense and special teams, the Falcons walked into the legendary grounds of Lambeau Field and handed the Packers their first home playoff loss in team history.
Coming into a matchup against the wildly popular Brett Favre, it was Vick who made the necessary plays at the necessary time. Vick passed for 117 yards in a brutally cold game, threw for a touchdown and also rushed for 64 yards. The one play that stood occurred two minutes before halftime on a 3rd & 3. With the Falcons up 21-0 and the ball on the Packers 39 yard line, Vick scrambled to his left and was chased by Packers defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila. The Houdini-like elusiveness of Vick was on full display as he squirmed free from the hands of Gbaja-Biamila while also attempting to stay inbounds. It paid off Vick who turned what seemed to be a disaster into an 11-yard run and a few plays later, the Falcons hit a 22-yard field goal for a 24-0 halftime lead.
The numbers were relatively low but the end result was an historic upset in his very first playoff game. Vick stood toe to toe against a Packers team that was 8-0 at home that season during the regular season, not to mention doing something that no team had ever done before then. It was an iconic moment for an iconic player.