Ravens halt Vick, Falcons QB breaks leg

<p>ATLANTA - In a textbook display of defense punctuated by aggressive pursuit, the Baltimore Ravens did more than harass quarterback Michael Vick. They may have halted the Atlanta Falcons superstar for quite a while. Vick suffered a broken right fibula in the first quarter of the Ravens' 13-10 victory Saturday night as his foot appeared to stick in the artificial turf on defensive end Adalius Thomas' tackle.&nbsp;</p>

As Vick was carted off the field in obvious pain, his season derailed, the Georgia Dome became as quiet as a tomb despite the presence of 68,327. It's unclear exactly how long the multi-dimensional athlete will be out based upon the initial diagnosis although estimates varied between six weeks to a few months. "This hurts our league and the Falcons, and I feel for him," said Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, whose season was abbreviated last year because of a shoulder injury "He's my friend and he'll be back. God doesn't do anything without a reason. "I went through an injury last year, and it's tough to not help your team. I'll call him and give him some encouragement." 

Even before the Pro Bowl passer got caught underneath Thomas, the Ravens' defense had already flexed its muscles. Defensive end Marques Douglas sacked Vick on the first play from scrimmage of the football game. On the ensuing play, Thomas batted Vick's pass into the waiting arms of cornerback Chris McAlister for an interception. By the Falcons' third offensive series, Vick dashed out of the shotgun and burst through the middle of the defense. Thomas rapidly gained ground, though, and Vick crumpled underneath him. "I am terribly disappointed," Vick said. All four of Vick's passes were incomplete. He compiled an unseemly quarterback rating of zero one week after achieving the highest possible rating in the NFL's complicated formula with a 158.3 against Green Bay. "It's a tough break for us," said Falcons coach Dan Reeves, who estimated Vick will be out only six weeks and not require surgery. 

This isn't the first time the Ravens (1-1) have shut down Vick. In last season's 20-17 loss, the Ravens limited Vick to minus-5 rushing yards, a mere 136 yards passing and forced him into his first interception of the season. The Ravens limited the Falcons to one first down in the first quarter, three for the first half, which was played to a 3-3 tie as Baltimore's Matt Stover and Jay Feely exchanged field goals. "We did some real good things in the first half," said defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, whose unit was without outside linebackers Cornell Brown and Terrell Suggs. "We played with good speed and tempo." 

While the defense excelled, the Ravens continued to conduct their quarterback competition. Incumbent Chris Redman had another solid outing as he completed four of his seven passes for 42 yards. For the second week in a row, receiver Marcus Robinson dropped a Redman pass with Baltimore threatening. The Ravens were forced to settle for a field goal. Overall, though, Redman demonstrated poise and sound decision-making. Meanwhile, rookie quarterback Kyle Boller engineered a touchdown drive in the second half capped by a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Terry Jones. Through the third quarter, Boller completed 9 of his 18 attempts for 132 yards. He was 5-of-8 in the third quarter for 99 yards after a shaky second quarter that included an interception tossed to Falcons cornerback Ray Buchanan. Boller also led Baltimore downfield to set up a 30-yard Stover field goal for the deciding margin. A 67-yard fumble return for a touchdown by the Falcons' Bryan Scott after Ravens running back Dameon Hunter was stripped of the football almost brought Atlanta all the way back. After a successful onsides kick, Baltimore managed to stop the Falcons again on safety Will Demps' interception. "I am continuing to learn," Boller said. "I felt more comfortable this time out. I was able to come back in the third quarter after the interception. "You can't make mistakes deep in other teams' territory. I can't let that mistake slow me down. You have to keep being aggressive." 

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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