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American Football: Recap: Falcons vs Vikings

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posted on Aug, 21 2004 @ 09:03 AM
Matt Schaub knows his place on the Atlanta Falcons. If he needs any hints, all he has to do his look at the locker he shares with a fellow rookie, kicker Damon Duval.

There certainly isn't a quarterback controversy in Atlanta.

Schaub threw three touchdown passes in relief of Michael Vick, leading the Falcons to a 27-24 preseason victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Friday night. The rookie out of Virginia completed 16-of-19 passes for 205 yards and no interceptions.

"It felt great," Schaub said. "A lot of guys put a lot into making it happen."

Daunte Culpepper and Gus Frerotte each had long TD tosses for the Vikings (1-1), who jumped to leads of 17-0 and 24-13 before the Falcons rallied behind Schaub and the rest of the reserves. Randy Moss caught three passes for 89 yards for Minnesota, including a 67-yarder for a score in the second quarter.

"We wanted to put up a couple of more scores, but it's still preseason," Culpepper said. "We've got a good offense, if we can stay healthy."

After replacing Vick midway through the second quarter, Schaub connected on his first pass, an 11-yard screen to Warrick Dunn. He fooled the defense with a pump fake on the next play and lofted a perfect pass to Michael Jenkins down the left sideline, and Jenkins sprinted into the end zone untouched for the 47-yard score.

"That felt good. The corner was looking hard inside, and Matt made a good fake," Jenkins said. "All I had to is look up and catch it, then stay inbounds."

Schaub added his second TD pass early in the third quarter, finding Stanley Pritchett alone in the corner to make it 24-20, then gave the Falcons (1-1) the lead for good with a 1-yarder to Jimmy Farris.

"He took another step in his growth," Atlanta coach Jim Mora said of Schaub. "That's a tremendous game, I don't care if it's preseason, regular season, the Super Bowl or in the back yard, that's a heck of a game by him."

When asked if Vick needed to look over his shoulder, Mora simply laughed.

"Give me a break," he said.

Vick, who went only a three-and-out series in last week's 24-0 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, finished 5-for-9 for 35 yards. He also ran three times for 18 yards, including a 12-yard scamper on the Falcons' first play.

Still, he has yet to lead the first-team offense to a touchdown. A 1-yard plunge by Dunn in the second quarter was nullified by a holding call against tackle Kevin Shaffer, and Jay Feely came on to kick a 28-yard field goal.

"It felt good to play more this week," Vick said. "We're trying to learn this offense and it's going to take time. Warrick had a nice run on that one drive and I wished we could have scored a touchdown instead of a field goal."

Culpepper and the Vikings picked up where they left off last season against Atlanta, when they won 39-26. Atlanta's Woody Dantzler bobbled the opening kickoff and Larry Ned recovered for Minnesota at the 30, and four plays later, Moe Williams bulled in from the 1 for a 7-0 lead.

Later in the first quarter, Culpepper found Moss alone behind the secondary and connected on a pass that covered about 55 yards in the air. Moss caught it in full stride a couple of yards in front of rookie cornerback DeAngelo Hall and raced in for the touchdown.

Frerotte added an 83-yard TD to Kelly Campbell on the first possession of the second half to make it 24-13.

"We had good tempo and played very explosive," Minnesota coach Mike Tice said. "Our quarterbacks were sharp as a tack. I thought our offensive guys did an excellent job keeping their cool."

Culpepper was 6-of-9 for 124 yards, and Frerotte was 6-of-8 for 126.

Dunn rushed for 72 yards, including a 47-yard run, but fumbled early in the second quarter to set up Aaron Elling's 47-yard field goal for Minnesota.


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