Most likeable Seminole ever.
They won because Jerious Norwood is going to do a really good Dunn impersonation this year. They won because their front four embarrassed Carolina's offensive line, partly because John Abraham and Rod Coleman are great pass rushers and partly because the McKay regime has built up great depth at the position and thus, the Falcons' defensive line was fresh in the fourth quarter.
If I were Jake Delhomme, I'd also be steamed to be buggered like this on just about every passing play.
They won because the secondary had its way with Carolina's out-manned receiver corps. (I'm still waiting for Keyshawn to "physically abuse" DeAngelo Hall as he promised to Jay Glazer he would do before the game.)
The Falcons certainly did not win because their quarterback went 10/22 for 140 yards and then ran for 48 more. Vick did make some nice throws in the game, especially his first touchdown pass when he scrambled to buy time and then hit Michael Jenkins with a laser for a touchdown. He also threw a really nice ball to Jenkins over the middle earlier in the game. That said, he missed wide open receivers on at least three occasions (a totally uncovered Alge Crumpler comes to mind immediately) and also hit Julius Peppers in the hands with a screen pass that would have put Carolina right back into the game if Peppers could have held onto the ball and trucked his way to the end zone. Vick clearly knew he had goofed on that throw, as he immediately got to his feet to chase Peppers.
Facts be damned, Joe Buck credited the victory to "Mike Vick and the Falcons" when reading scores at the outset of the Dallas-Jacksonville game.
That said, there are a couple reasons to defend Vick after the game, both related to the pressure that his running ability puts on a defense. First, Vick has open targets because teams have to leave a spy to watch him and thus play a man down in the defensive backfield. Second, Warrick Dunn's oft-exploited cut-back lanes are so open because weakside defensive ends have to respect the bootleg and thus cannot crash down on the backside of running plays. In other words, I'm not sure that the Falcons would have won 34-6 instead of 20-6 with Matt Schaub under center.
Update: at least Joe Buck can say he almost certainly didn't see the game. Peter King allegedly did and here's what he has to say:
[Vick] was 10 of 22, but if you saw the game, you saw a guy who was the decisive factor for Atlanta.
Right, in a game in which the Falcons allowed the pre-season NFC favorites six points on their homefield and rushed for 250 yards, it was the quarterback who was the decisive factor. But wait, the illogical spewing continues:
I've vacillated about Vick because I think a quarterback has to give a team consistency. But consistency is not Vick's game. He's at his best when he's creating stuff on the perimeter, as he did on the scramble-and-throw that invented the 34-yard touchdown pass to Michael Jenkins that, in essence, clinched this game. And if you neuter that, you might as well play Matt Schaub.
What on earth is he saying here? That Vick doesn't need to be a consistent passer? Why should he get a free pass when every other quarterback is graded on how good they perform over the long haul? On the other hand, if King is simply saying that Vick needs to be himself and not constrict himself by being a pocket passer, then he's right, but he's stating the obvious.