Another year, another Falcon collapse

By Darrell Laurant  |   Thursday, December 28, 2006  |  Comments( 4 )

Atlanta Falcons
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As the Atlanta Falcons continue to self-destruct for the second straight year, players are beginning to point fingers -- and we're not talking about the two middle fingers that Mike Vick aimed at Falcon fans several weeks ago.

Tight end Alge Crumpler complained that the offense wasn't consistent enough. Warrick Dunn complained that the Falcons weren't running the ball enough. Vick seemed to imply that some of his teammates weren't giving 100 percent.

"It's too much talent in this locker room to be sitting at 7-8," Vick grumbled. "I'm just trying to keep it real."

Realistically, the odds of Atlanta capping its wild season with a wild card are only a little better than the odds of an asteroid striking the earth. Not only does Jim Mora's team have to beat surging Philadelphia on Sunday, but three other teams have to lose.

So what happened this year? How did 4-2 become 7-8?

The Falcons arguably reached a 2006 pinnacle with their 41-38 overtime victory over defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh early in October. It was perhaps Michael Vick's most efficient game.

The following Sunday, Atlanta traveled to Detroit and lost, 30-14, to the Lions. Vick regressed in that game, losing a fumble and throwing two interceptions.

The following week, at Cleveland, the Falcons' QB suffered two more picks and an awkward fourth-quarter fumble that aborted Atlanta's final drive in a 17-13 loss.

Almost every NFL club gets knocked off by a lesser team at some point during the season, but two in a row is a killer. The Falcons' confidence was shot, and they went on to lose five in a row.

Interestingly, Vick was Atlanta's leading rusher eight times this season -- the eight games in which Atlanta was outscored.

There were also injury problems, notably to defensive ends John Abraham and Patrick Kerney and linebacker Ed Hartwell. The wide receivers stayed healthy, but dropped too many passes -- and after a brief flirtation with throwing vertically to Roddy White and Michael Jenkins, Vick went back to Crumpler as his favorite target.

If Atlanta doesn't win Sunday, Mora is probably gone. Perhaps one of his crimes was raising expectations too high with the team's advance into the NFC championship game two years ago.

Meanwhile, Mike Vick has changed his tune as far as the Falcon fans are concerned.

"They have a right to boo," he said.
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