<
>

Falcons gain minus-9 yards in Vick's 3 series

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) -- The Washington Redskins blitzed Michael
Vick silly, making his trip to the nation's capital a big waste of
time.

In a show of aggressive defense intended to set the tone for the
regular season, the Redskins limited Vick to five snaps over three
series and forced him into two turnovers Friday night in a 27-0
thumping of the Atlanta Falcons.

"We wanted to show 'Hey, this isn't a scrimmage; this is a
game," said Redskins safety Matt Bowen, who picked off Vick's
first throw after a double cornerback blitz. "That first play was
great. We hadn't shown anything like that before. We got Vick in a
situation he's not used to being in, guys crawling all over his
back. I think maybe that's a good message to send."

Redskins quarterback Mark Brunell, who this week won the
starting job over Patrick Ramsey, needed only one series to wrap up
his preseason work. He went 4-for-6 for 51 yards on a 78-yard
opening drive, capped by Ladell Betts' 5-yard run.

That was just a dent in a 24-0 first quarter. It's not that the
Redskins were that perfect -- it's just that the Falcons were
incredibly inept.

"I wish it counted," said Washington coach Joe Gibbs, whose
team lost 28-3 last week in St. Louis. "It is preseason, but I
think coming off such a dismal performance last week, it was good
for the guys."

Washington outgained Atlanta 247-190, had a huge advantage in
time of possession, and forced four turnovers while committing
none.

"Obviously it was not an acceptable performance by our team --
very disappointing," Atlanta coach Jim Mora said. "I guess you
could say if there's one positive, it's now we can put our entire
focus on Sept. 12 and the San Francisco 49ers."

Atlanta had minus-9 yards of total offense in Vick's three
series. Washington's blitzers went unblocked. Peerless Price
committed a personal foul in the first quarter, and Eric Beverly's
holding penalty wiped out promising field position on a kickoff
return a few minutes later. Both of the Falcons' projected starting
cornerbacks are injured, so the secondary was ripe for the picking.

How humiliating was it? The Falcons even managed to get a player
injured by the Redskins kicker. Receiver Woody Dantzler left the
game with a sprained right ankle after getting tackled by John Hall
on a kickoff in the first half.

Playing in a new offense under new coach Mora, Vick was hoping
to get some badly needed work after a sore hamstring limited
him to just 24 snaps in the first three exhibition games.

"We didn't get that accomplished, but it's fine," Vick said.
"Next week we've got four quarters to get into a rhythm. ... They
brought some blitzes we didn't expect and we didn't game plan for.
They blitzed, and who says you can't blitz in football?"

Vick's first pass was a desperation lob, thrown while falling
backward under pressure from blitzing cornerback Shawn Springs. It
was picked off by Bowen.

Vick went 0-for-2 on the next series and was tossed to the
ground by unblocked linebacker LaVar Arrington after one throw. On
the first play of the next series, Arrington -- unblocked again --
forced Vick to fumble, and Antonio Pierce picked up the ball and
ran 23 yards for a touchdown.

Vick's final numbers: 0-for-3 with one interception and one
fumble. He finished the preseason 5-for-12 for 35 yards with no
touchdowns and one interception.

Asked if he'll be ready for the season opener, Vick said: "I
don't have a choice. I've got to get ready. Comfortable or not,
I've got to go play."

Most of the starters were gone by halftime in a game that gave
second-stringers some needed experience and players on the bubble
one last chance to make an impression before Sunday's final round
of cuts.

Atlanta quarterback Matt Schaub continued his impressive
preseason, albeit against other reserves. The rookie from Virginia
went 12-for-23 for 128 yards in relief of Vick.

Ramsey, meanwhile, went 11-for-21 for 81 yards and led his first
touchdown drive of the preseason, a 3-yard run by Betts in the
first quarter.

Game notes
Atlanta linebacker Keith Brooking left the game with a
hamstring injury. ... Redskins injuries: rookie safety Sean Taylor
(bruised thigh), cornerback Rashad Bauman (ankle), Arrington
(pinched nerve in neck). ... Redskins defensive end Phillip Daniels
played his first game of the preseason after missing nearly all of
training camp with an abdominal strain.