Just when you think the play is over, the clock keeps ticking. Michael Vick has the ball and he's running.
Defensive coordinators hold their breath. The Falcons' sideline holds its breath, too, because you don't know what you are going to get from the 22-year-old quarterback, a big play or a letdown.
Vick, regarded as the most athletically gifted quarterback in the NFL, was a study in contrasts in the Falcons' 14-13 loss to the Bears. He accounted for 222 yards of the Falcons' 257 total net yards, but there were passes that were just off the mark, scrambles he didn't turn into big runs and mistakes in the huddle that loomed large at the end of the game.
"Offensively we made some plays, but again our consistency is the thing you struggle with and, of course, that's the way Mike is going to be," coach Dan Reeves said. "He's going to make some great plays and there are going to be some plays that frustrate him, frustrate you. Those are just a learning process. The fewer you have of those, the better chance you have of winning."
Vick completed 17-of-28 passes for 166 yards. He ran 10 times for 56 yards.
His inexperience and brilliance were on full display. Vick was like an early autumn thermometer: hot, then cold, then hot, then cold.
On the Falcons' first possession, Vick had Shawn Jefferson open over the middle, but Jefferson had to lunge for the pass and dropped it. Atlanta, which was on the Bears 39, had to punt.
On the Falcons' next possession, Vick dashed through the defense for a 15-yard gain to the Bears 48. Five plays later at the 36, he only had to lob the ball to open tight end Reggie Kelly for a first down. He underthrew the pass and the Falcons had to try a field goal, which missed.
"You've got to be efficient," Vick said. "I think we scored almost every time we got the ball in the red zone last week against the Packers. You've got to score points, especially the way your defense is playing."
Vick came back on the next possession and threw a 10-yard scoring pass to Warrick Dunn, who had swung out of the backfield. It was an exquisite pass, flipped sidearm, and Dunn caught it in stride on the way to the goal line.
But in the third quarter, Vick fumbled at the Bears 21 to ruin a scoring chance. In the fourth quarter, Vick put his team in the wrong formation and had to call a timeout with 4 minutes 44 seconds to play. It was a timeout the Falcons could have used late in the game.
"I screwed the formation up," Vick said. "I called it one way, [and] it wasn't right. I thought about it. There were 12 seconds on the clock, and I had to take a timeout."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times