Focus on the Falcons

This time, all the cards are on the table.<P> Green Bay and Atlanta met in Week One as virtual strangers. The Packers looked surprised by the extent of Michael Vick's abilities, but emerged with a 37-34 overtime win.<P> Now, the game plans, the injury reports and, most importantly, the stakes are no secret.<p>

Green Bay has Brett Favre and a landslide of injuries. Atlanta has Vick and the burden of playing at Lambeau Field.

Which QB will reign supreme?

The Packers hope that what they know about Vick won't hurt them.

"He was a better thrower than we probably gave him credit for," conceded Packers coach Mike Sherman. "We thought he would evolve into that, and he really threw the ball well against us."

Vick hurt the Packers with the pass and the run, as Atlanta piled up 374 yards although Green Bay emerged from the opener with a 37-34 overtime win. Good thing for Green Bay that Vick couldn't catch the ball as well. Two drops of well-thrown passese hurt the Falcons' cause.

"We were the first ones to play him and I felt very fortunate to have played him early - at least until he almost beat us," Sherman said. "He surprised me with his poise and his confidence."

Vick said he's looking forward to a second chance in Lambeau -- although he may not recognize the place after experiencing a temperature swing of more than 50 degrees. Temperatures are expected to start in the low 20s for the 7 p.m. kickoff, then steadily drop into the single digits.

"I'm very excited about round two and hopefully it will be a different outcome," Vick said. "We know it will be tough and cold. We really have to go out and execute and, me myself, I have to really go out and mange this game and play within myself and let the other guys do their job and I think we'll have a pretty good shot of beating this team."

Green Bay defensive coordinator Ed Donatell wasn't tipping his hand, but he will take some things from the first game and try to improve on them, he said. But where a deep Tampa Bay defense and the Bear D with Brian Urlacher were able to solve Vick, the Packers will have to improvise. They likely will be without safety Darren Sharper, sidelined with a knee sprain. For the two QBs, pre-game press has become a mutual admiration society. Favre, the veteran who came only four votes shy of his fourth MVP this week, had high praise for his young counterpart.

"Oh my God, no - I don't see any of me in him," said Favre. "He is so talented. He can do things that obviously no one can do. He's exciting to watch. I can't do anything he can do."

For Vick's part, he knows that the Falcons can't blink vs. Favre.

"It's very important (to start fast) due to the fact that they have Brett Favre on the other side of the ball," Vick said. "When he is on, he is on. They are going to be hyped up and they are at home and it is the playoffs ... We have to start fast at some point.

"The first time we played we both went out and did our jobs and did them well," Vick said. "This time it is in the playoffs and I'm pretty sure he is going to be fired up and I'm fired up just to be playing against him. I have to go out and play within myself. I can't get too excited or overanxious. I just have to go out and let things happen."

All eyes will be on the red zone. Atlanta has had their problems, relying too heavily on kicker Jay Feeley. Meanwhile, the Packers' previous defensive success there blew up last weekend as the Jets converted all six of their red zone opportunities.

Vick said he'll do it himself: "We have kicked enough field goals. I'm pretty sure (kicker) Jay Feely's legs are tired right now. We have to get the ball into the end zone one way or another no matter what it takes. I am going to take responsibility towards that and some how, some way myself, I am going to have to figure out a way to get that ball into the end zone."

Meanwhile, Donatell summed up what it will take for the Packers to advance:

"It will take a lot better effort this time," he said.

Packer Report Top Stories