Sep 18, 2011, 6:34 PM EDT
Technically this isn’t Mike Vick’s first return to the Georgia Dome. In 2009, Vick came off the bench for a little mop-up duty against his ex-mates, a move Falcons owner Arthur Blank considered a sign of disrespect. Fans in red and black number seven jerseys cheered on their old quarterback while he piled on with a late touchdown pass, one of two scores he had a hand in during a 34-7 Eagles victory.
Of course, you might be aware a lot has changed since then, so yes, it’s still a big deal when Vick breaks the huddle for the first time tonight.
As usual, Vick is saying the right things, calling the game in Atlanta a “business trip,” but we all realize it’s much more than that. I’m sure there will be an array of emotions as he walks out of the tunnel to what will likely be another sizable pro-Vick crowd.
All that stuff aside, the real storyline tonight is how important a test this is for the Eagles. Last week, the Eagles dispatched an overwhelmed Rams team with relative ease, but it was an uneven effort that might not fly against some of the better teams in the league.
Enter the Falcons back into the conversation, who despite an embarrassing loss in their opener, are pegged by many as a serious contender in the NFC. They have some of the same holes on defense that have plagued them for years, but continue loading up on talent on the other side of the ball, led by the franchise quarterback who was left to pick up the pieces post-Vick, Matt Ryan.
And they are desperate. Nobody wants to start the season 0-2. It’s a deep enough hole to crawl out of on its own, but a quick glimpse at their schedule reveals Tampa Bay next week, and Green Bay in three. Games in Week 2 are never must-win, but it probably feels like it in Atlanta.
Add in the fact that the game is at the Georgia Dome, where the Falcons are 20-5 over the last three seasons, and the Eagles will certainly have their work cut out for them. Look for Atlanta to lean on their power running attack, try to win the time of possession game and keep Vick’s high-powered offense off the field.
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