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(Sunday, September 18th)
Final Score: Atlanta 35, Philadelphia 31
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Michael Vick started a game in Atlanta for the first time since he wore a Falcons uniform, but didn't get to finish it.
He didn't even get to walk away a winner.
Michael Turner rushed for the go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter, and the Falcons survived a grudge match Sunday night by scoring 14 unanswered points to beat the Philadelphia Eagles, 35-31.
Vick went out with a concussion after he was knocked into one of his own teammates in the third quarter, forcing the Eagles to play the remainder of the game with third-stringer Mike Kafka under center.
After Vick was hurt, LeSean McCoy scored his second touchdown of the game on a two-yard run to give the Eagles (1-1) a 31-21 lead.
But the Falcons (1-1) rallied for two scores in the fourth quarter, coming back to win the game while their former No. 1 draft pick was inside being looked at.
"He's OK right now," Eagles head coach Andy Reid said about Vick, "but he has a concussion."
Vick, of course, played for the Falcons from 2001-06, leading them to one NFC Championship game and the promise of more before federal dogfighting charges landed him in jail for almost two years.
Before the dynamic quarterback signed with Philadelphia and began his career comeback two years ago, Atlanta was forced to start over.
New quarterback of the future Matt Ryan passed for 195 yards and a career-high four touchdowns Sunday night, throwing two interceptions but earning the win against his predecessor.
Turner rushed for 114 yards, while Tony Gonzalez caught seven passes for 83 yards and a pair of scores in the victory.
"I can't tell you how proud I am of the way our guys played tonight," said Falcons head coach Mike Smith. "There was a lot of tough sledding in the football game. We obviously didn't play our best game, but we played it well enough to get it done."
Before he went down, Vick completed 19-of-28 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns, but threw an interception and fumbled twice in a mistake-prone start.
Two of Vick's turnovers led to Atlanta touchdowns, turning a 10-7 Eagles lead in the second quarter into a 21-10 Falcons advantage early in the third.
Kafka, serving as the backup since Vince Young went down with a hamstring injury in the preseason, was 7-of-9 for 72 yards.
"I thought Kafka stepped in and did a nice job when he had the opportunity," Reid said.
But ending the game without Vick was as close to a worst-case scenario as the Eagles could have gotten.
Vick, who was used sparingly as a backup to Donovan McNabb in Atlanta two seasons ago, was hit by Falcons safety William Moore in the third quarter. As he tumbled awkwardly into lineman Todd Herremans, Vick's helmet struck the lineman and his body bent back awkwardly.
He labored to the sideline, where he sat for a moment before walking off the field to a chorus of boos from the Atlanta crowd. His status for next Sunday's home opener against the New York Giants will be updated throughout the week, but a concussion means he'll have to pass a battery of tests before being cleared.
"Some of those things you can't really control," said Kafka. "He takes a hit like that and he has to be safe and take care of his body."
McCoy's two-yard run gave the Eagles a 10-point lead with 1:59 left in the third quarter, but Ryan capped an 80-yard drive with a one-yard pass to Ovie Mughelli to get the Falcons within three.
Atlanta's next drive also went for 80 yards, with Turner gaining 61 on a first-down to the right. Later, Turner rumbled into the right side of the end zone to make it 35-31 Atlanta with 4:48 remaining in the game.
Kafka took the Eagles to the Atlanta 22, but threw incomplete on fourth down. The Falcons later survived a punt to DeSean Jackson and a Hail Mary pass as time ran out.
"We knew this was going to be a battle tonight. We just made too many mistakes," said Eagles defensive end Jason Babin. "They made mistakes, too, but we just didn't take advantage of it. I take away the fact that we could have won this game.
"It's not what Atlanta did, it's what we didn't do. We handed them the game."
Jeremy Maclin had 13 receptions for 171 yards and two touchdowns for the Eagles, who controlled the first half and had the ball at the Atlanta four- yard line with a 10-7 lead and time running down.
But Peria Jerry hit Vick, causing a fumble that Ray Edwards picked up and returned 64 yards before the speedy Jackson caught him from behind.
The Falcons converted the turnover into Ryan's four-yard touchdown pass to Gonzalez, taking a 14-10 lead with 44 seconds left before halftime.
Falling out of the back of the end zone, Gonzalez caught the ball one-handed and controlled it against his body despite the three Philadelphia defenders around him.
Defensive end John Abraham stripped Vick just a couple of plays into the next series, forcing another fumble, but Ryan gave the ball right back when he was intercepted by Nnamdi Asomugha two plays later.
Alex Henery missed a 63-yard field goal try before halftime, coming up well short on a kick that would have tied the NFL record.
In the third quarter, Gonzalez scored on a 17-yard catch after Kelvin Hayden intercepted Vick on his first pass of the second half. Vick connected with Maclin on a short pass on the next series, and the wideout took it 36 yards down the left sideline to get the Eagles within 21-17.
Asante Samuel picked off Ryan's next pass across the middle, setting up McCoy's first touchdown of the third quarter and a 24-21 Philadelphia lead.
Earlier, the Falcons took a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter when Ryan found Roddy White in the back of the end zone for a two-yard touchdown pass.
Vick and the Eagles responded with a 12-play, 84-yard drive that spilled over into the second quarter and culminated in Maclin's five-yard touchdown catch to tie the game.
A 28-yard catch by Julio Jones was overturned on an Eagles challenge and the Falcons went three-and-out before Henery kicked a 22-yard field goal to make it 10-7 Philadelphia.
Samuel went to the locker room for what was reported to be a dislocated finger after his interception...McCoy gained 95 yards on 18 rushes...White had three catches for 23 yards.
09/19 01:26:49 ET
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