Falcons shock Packers


Atlanta quarterback Mike Vick and the Falcons will take on the Philadelphia Eagles next.

(AP Photo)
Published: Sunday, January 5, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 5, 2003 at 12:16 a.m.

GREEN BAY, Wis. - It looked so perfect for Green Bay. Snow falling. Packers in green and gold. Lambeau Field in January. Only it wasn't Brett Favre making all the plays. It was Mike Vick.

Undaunted by the storied stadium where his own coach lost in the ``Ice Bowl'' 35 years ago, Vick made history of his own Saturday night.

The 22-year-old improvisational genius led the Atlanta Falcons to a shocking 27-7 upset of the Packers in a wild-card playoff before a record crowd of 65,358 stunned souls.

The Packers (12-5) were the only team to go unbeaten at home during the regular season. And they had never lost a home playoff game since the NFL instituted a postseason in 1933 in going 13-0 - 11 of the wins coming at Lambeau and two more in Milwaukee.

The closest they had come was on New Year's Eve 1967, when Bart Starr knifed into the end zone with 13 seconds left to give Green Bay a 21-17 victory over Dallas in the coldest game in NFL history.

Falcons coach Dan Reeves threw a 50-yard touchdown pass on a halfback option that gave the Cowboys a 17-14 fourth-quarter lead in that game.

Favre had built a reputation as the game's greatest cold-weather quarterback, winning all 35 of his starts at home in which the temperature was 34 or below.

It was an unseasonably warm 31 degrees at kickoff. But by the time snow began falling at halftime, the Falcons had an astonishing 24-0 lead.

Favre was without Pro Bowl running back Ahman Green (knee) and leading receivers Donald Driver (shoulder) and Terry Glenn (concussion) in a futile second-half comeback attempt.

He finished 20-of-42 for 247 yards.

Vick was 13-of-25 for 117 and rushed 10 times for 64 yards, numerous times turning sure sacks into big plays.

The Falcons (10-6-1), who had backed into the playoffs after losing three of four in December, will travel to Philadelphia for a divisional playoff next weekend.

The Packers, who just one week ago still had a shot at the home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, began their offseason much sooner than anyone expected.

Still deflated from their demoralizing 42-17 defeat to the New York Jets last week that cost them a first-round bye, the Packers received a series of rapid-fire jolts in the first night playoff game in their history.

First, Pro Bowl safety Darren Sharper (knee) was unable to play, leaving the Packers without their fastest defender to help contain Vick.

Their next best bet was a snowstorm, but it arrived too late to curtail Vick, the top pick in last year's draft who nearly beat Green Bay in the season opener at Lambeau Field before losing 37-34 in overtime.

On the second play from scrimmage, Falcons center Todd McClure cut-blocked nose tackle Gilbert Brown, who went to the sideline for the rest of the drive.

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