Michael Vick returned to the city where he first electrified NFL audiences before his stunning fall from grace and equally stunning climb back to glory. Would he complete his return from scandal and ignominy by leading his team to a dramatic victory over the franchise that discarded him?
Sadly, while the Week 2 headliner largely lived up to the hype, we were denied the spectacle of a Vick-fueled desperation drive amid the din of the Georgia Dome. With the game on the line, Vick was in the locker room, victim of a freak collision with one of his own linemen that resulted in an apparent concussion. Replacement Mike Kafka performed admirably, but his final pass glanced off the hands of Jeremy Maclin, and the Falcons held on for a dramatic 35–31 comeback win.
Before a frenzied home crowd, the Falcons hung around thanks to the arm of Matt Ryan, who threw a career-high four touchdown passes, and then erased a 31–21 fourth-quarter deficit largely on the legs of Michael Turner, who churned for 114 yards, including a 61-yard run that set up his go-ahead touchdown run with 4:48 left.
Clearly, this town now belongs to Ryan and Turner, but Vick was the story coming in, and the fans welcomed him with a cascade of boos that drowned out pockets of welcoming cheers. Vintage Vick No. 7 Falcons jerseys were vastly outnumbered by Ryan’s No. 2.
In typical fashion, Vick was both dazzling and disappointing, making a number of scintillating plays but also turning the ball over three times, twice on fumbles, and throwing an interception that led to a touchdown. His inconsistent evening ended in the third quarter when he was spun into teammate Todd Herremanns and staggered off the field spitting blood.
“I feel for him,” Maclin said. “Obviously, he wanted to come home and make a statement.”
To Vick’s credit, he left the field with the lead, having played well enough to win. But the Eagles defense had no answer for Turner, Ryan and tight end Tony Gonzalez, who burnished his Hall of Fame credentials with seven catches, two of them for scores, including a highlight reel grab in the second quarter.
“It was a wild one, for sure, but we hung in there," Ryan said after only the sixth double-digit fourth quarter home comeback in franchise history. "I think everybody hung in there and kept making plays, kept battling. Credit to guys on both sides of the ball — we never gave up.”
“I thought the guys battled," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. “We just had too many turnovers, too many mistakes.”
Reid now faces the last thing he needs — a possible quarterback controversy. Kafka performed well in relief, but the franchise’s nominal No. 2 quarterback is Vince Young, who was inactive with a hamstring injury. If Vick is unable to go, Young might get the chance to lead his Dream Team against the Giants on Sunday.
• Let’s hear it for this unlikely trio of unbeatens: the 2–0 Bills, Lions and Redskins. Last season, they combined for 16 wins; after Week 2, they’re more than a third of the way to surpassing that number. The Bills, a selfless group of unsung everymen, lead the NFL with 79 points scored.
• They’re 0–2, but these aren’t the same Panthers. Cam Newton is for real.
• It’s panic time in Kansas City, Miami, Seattle and Indianapolis. The Chiefs, in particular, have been putrid, outscored 89–10 in their two losses, and they watched stud ballcarrier Jamaal Charles get carted off with an apparent ACL tear. Let the Andrew Luck sweepstakes begin.
• Let’s not crown the Texans AFC South champs just yet. The Titans showed the most improvement from Week 1 to Week 2 in the NFL.
• Tony Romo went from Week 1 goat to Week 2 superhero, shaking off a broken rib to lead the Cowboys to a 27–24 comeback win over the 49ers.