Is Patience Paying Off?

VICK'S RED-HOT DAY
November 08, 2004

Falcons quarterback Michael Vick faced a frustrating situation at Denver on Sunday--but it came after Atlanta's 41--28 victory. A fire alarm went off during his press conference, forcing Vick to yell over the racket for a few minutes until he gave up and left the room.

With his incendiary performance at Invesco Field, Vick had likewise drowned out (at least temporarily) those who doubted his grasp of the team's new West Coast offense. He raced through the Broncos for 115 yards. He completed 18 of 24 passes for another 252 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions. After several poor outings this season--especially in a 56--10 loss to Kansas City on Oct. 24--Vick reminded everyone of how explosive he can be. "My concentration level was real high," Vick said. "I'd spent more time studying film and my playbook because I wanted to make sure I was ready for this one. I think it showed."

Vick repeatedly scrambled for long gains when pass plays bogged down. His improvisation was impressive not only because he frequently eluded the Broncos' quick linebackers but also because he acted more decisively than in recent weeks. That helped the Falcons pile up 467 total yards against the league's second-ranked defense.

It also made Vick feel better about the offense new coach Jim Mora introduced this season. Even though he'd thrown four touchdowns and six interceptions before Sunday, the Atlanta staff hasn't been discouraged. "We've constantly told Mike that [learning this system] will be a two- or three-year process," says offensive coordinator Greg Knapp. "And we've provided him with examples, like Donovan McNabb and Daunte Culpepper. They're great now, but they had their ups and downs. Michael understands the big picture. It's the people watching him who can't be patient." --Jeffri Chadiha

COLOR PHOTOBRIAN BAHR/GETTY IMAGES (VICK) ON HIS TOES Well-prepared and decisive, Vick dazzled Denver with his arm and legs.

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