|Michael Vick excites the hometown fans with a 43-yard TD pass in the first quarter.(AP)|
He guided the Falcons to touchdowns on their first two possessions before his final drive stalled out in Green Bay territory late in the first quarter.
"What can you say?" Packers cornerback Mike McKenzie said. "The world sees what the rest of us see: one incredibly smooth, composed individual."
Green Bay, coming off a 9-0 loss to Kansas City in a preseason opener shortened by inclement weather, got off to another sloppy start against the team that knocked the Packers out of the playoffs last season. They trailed 21-3 in the second quarter and jumped offsides five times in the first half, though Atlanta declined two of the penalties.
Green Bay rallied once the starters were done for the night. Najeh Davenport scored on a 3-yard run with just over a minute left in the first half, then sparked a 17-point third quarter with a 4-yard TD run early in the second half.
Ryan Longwell kicked a 40-yard field goal, and Bobby Jackson put the Packers ahead for the first time, scooping up a fumble by Doug Johnson at the Falcons 2 and returning it for a touchdown with 2:49 left in the third quarter.
Brett Favre went only two series for Green Bay, going 4-of-7 for 32 yards. His backup, Doug Pederson, played one possession as coach Mike Sherman decided to get an extensive look at two guys battling for the No. 3 quarterback job, Craig Nall and former first-round pick Akili Smith.
"The final result in the preseason is how well you play," Sherman said. "The first unit didn't play well versus their first unit, and that was disappointing."
Johnson, Atlanta's No. 2 quarterback, was 12-of-22 for 103 yards, with a 7-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Duckett. But Johnson also was sacked three times behind a makeshift line and had trouble connecting with an ever-changing group of receivers.
"You've got to deal with that in the preseason," he said. "During the season, I know who I'll be playing with."
A couple of long returns by Allen Rossum gave Vick good field position to work with on his first two possessions.
Rossum sprinted 49 yards with the opening kickoff, setting up the Falcons at the Green Bay 49. Vick passed to his newest weapon, Peerless Price, for a 13-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage. Vick also broke off a 9-yard run before Warrick Dunn finished the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run.
"On the very first play, Coach (Dan) Reeves gave me and Mike an opportunity to make a play," said Price, who signed a $37.5 million contract during the offseason. "We got that first one over and done with."
Atlanta's next possession began after a 17-yard punt return by Rossum. Dunn broke off a 21-yard run on a draw, and Vick did the rest. At the Green Bay 43, he looked to his right, then passed to an open Finneran, who broke free down the middle while being covered by linebacker Nick Barnett.
"I looked the safety off," Vick said. "I liked that matchup."
On Vick's last possession, he threw a short pass to George Layne that turned into a 37-yard gain. But the left-hander finally threw an incompletion on third-and-4 at the Green Bay 29, then was sacked on fourth down by Chuki Nwokorie and Jamal Reynolds.
Nall helped his chances by completing eight of 13 passes for 80 yards. Smith, on the other hand, showed why his career has never taken off since he was picked No. 3 overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1999.
Smith threw one pass that should have picked off by Kevin McCadam and missed a potential TD by overshooting an open receiver. Finally, he was intercepted by Recardo Wimbush on a throw over the middle.
"Our coaches want me to be a pocket passer, but I had to do a little scrambling," Smith said. "Ironically, it was Vick who was the pocket passer."
With a bunch of no-names on the field, the Falcons had a late chance to win the game, getting first-and-goal at the Packers 1 after a pass interference call. But No. 4 tight end Derek Rackley dropped a pass in the end zone and Green Bay's Jacoby Shepherd fell on the ball after fourth-string running back Fred Talley fumbled for the second time.
Both teams also experienced potentially serious injuries. Green Bay, already missing several key players, had cornerback Bryant Westbrook hobble off the field with an injury to his right Achilles' tendon and nose tackle Gilbert Brown go down with a torn biceps.
Falcons linebacker Twan Russell jammed his left knee -- the same knee that required surgery last season and has been bothering him all through camp.
The Associated Press News Service
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