Michael Vick and Alge Crumpler work on the play in practice. When the quarterback is forced to scramble, the tight end finds a way to get open.
It looks like something straight off the playground, but it gave the Atlanta Falcons another victory.
Moving to the brink of their third division championship, the Falcons rallied to defeat the New Orleans Saints, 24-21, when Vick threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Crumpler with 1 minute 22 seconds remaining Sunday.
Vick scrambled out of trouble and found Crumpler at the pylon, battling with cornerback Jason Craft. The Pro Bowl tight end boxed out the defender like a basketball player going for a rebound, and easily made the catch when Craft fell.
“Me and Mike have a great connection,” said Crumpler, who had four catches for 103 yards. “We work on that all week in practice -- the scramble drill. Mike put the ball in a great spot.”
On the game-winning play, Vick looked to his left, cut to the right to avoid the rush, then darted back left to get away from more pressure. A Saint sprawled on the turf took a swipe at Vick’s legs as he went by, but the quarterback managed to rifle the pass to Crumpler.
“I always feel like we’re going to score a touchdown,” Vick said. “I have confidence I can do almost anything when I step out there.”
The Saints knew what they were up against in Vick.
“Hey, the Falcons have a secret weapon over there who is the league’s worst-kept secret,” cornerback Mike McKenzie said. “You’ve got to tip your hat to the guy. He’s from another world.”
James Allen appeared to save the Saints when he stripped the ball from Warrick Dunn at the New Orleans six-yard line with 3:11 to go. But Vick still had time to bail out the Falcons (9-2).
The Saints (4-7) went three and out, and Atlanta took over at the New Orleans 47. Vick had nearly two minutes to work with, but he and Crumpler needed only two plays to get the Falcons into the end zone. Crumpler got things started with a 27-yard catch.
“The defense just fell apart,” said Vick, who had a hand in the three Atlanta touchdowns.
Vick passed for two touchdowns and was 16 for 29 for 212 yards. He ran for a 16-yard touchdown, leading the Falcons with 69 yards in 10 carries.
Vick certainly atoned for an interception that set up New Orleans’ go-ahead touchdown.
Atlanta is virtually assured of the third division title in franchise history, leading the other three teams in the NFC South by five games with five to play.
“We’re 9-2, and we’re for real,” Crumpler said.