Turning Point: Vick's Big Plays

Michael Vick showed why he is quickly becoming revered in the NFL, as his knack for the big plays at the right moments continued against the Vikings.

It was no secret who the Vikings were going to have to stop to win Sunday's game. Quarterback Michael Vick has earned his reputation to the extent that VU's Bob Lurtsema compared Vick to Gale Sayers — perhaps the most electrifying north-south runner in the history of the game.

Yet, when the Falcons needed big plays, Vick was always the man who got the call and had the answers.

For the better part of three quarters, Vick had made a couple of big runs but, by and large, had been contained. Even so, as the Vikings tried to close out the Falcons with a 21-14 lead, Vick would provide all the sparks the Falcons would need.

With two minutes to play in the third quarter, Atlanta was on the Vikings 41-yard line and came out with a T-formation — three running backs behind Vick. He called a bootleg and raced 13 yards before stepping out of bounds. With the same formation on the next play, the Vikings knew it was coming again. It did, but this time Vick cut the play back inside and went untouched 28 yards for a score to tie the game.

In what may have been the biggest play of the game, Atlanta was faced with third-and-8 on the Vikings 35 late in the fourth quarter — too far for a field goal under most circumstances. Vick again called a bootleg and beat everyone to the corner, gaining 8 yards and giving kicker Jay Feely the additional room. That was enough for him to make a 44-yard field goal to give the Falcons their first lead of the game.

Finally, in overtime, the Falcons defense had set up the offense with two sacks of Culpepper. Needing to get 10-15 yards to get into good field goal range, Vick called his own number, found a seam and was off for a 46-yard touchdown to end the game.

For three quarters, the Vikings had been bit on a few big plays by Vick. But with the game on the line in the third and fourth quarters and overtime, Vick showed why he is the next big thing in the NFL and by himself was the turning point of the game.



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