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Vick breaks leg as Ravens prevail, 13-10

THE BALTIMORE SUN

ATLANTA -- The Ravens' silencing of the Atlanta Falcons will extend beyond one game.

On a night that began with Ray Lewis putting a finger to his lips to hush the boos, the Ravens wreaked havoc on the Falcons' offense and season in last night's 13-10 win at the Georgia Dome.

After four disastrous series against the Ravens, Falcons star quarterback Michael Vick fractured his right fibula while being tackled by Adalius Thomas.

The preseason victory for the Ravens (1-1) sent ripples into the regular season for the Falcons (0-2), one of the league's up-and-coming teams. Although his status will be evaluated today, the injury suffered by Vick usually sidelines a player for at least six weeks.

"That hurts our league and the Falcons," said Lewis, who said he intended to call Vick. "I feel for him. He's my friend and he'll be back. I went through an injury last year and it's tough not to be able to help your team."

The meeting between two of the game's top players was overwhelmingly won by Lewis.

The showdown turned into a shutdown as the Ravens allowed just 19 yards on Vick's 11 plays. There were three three-and-outs, one interception, no completions and one knockout.

"I am terribly disappointed," said Vick, who was 0-for-4 and had a quarterback rating of zero. "But this is the ultimate team sport and we will have to keep playing. I have confidence that these guys can get it done."

While the Ravens' defense rolled, their offense stalled in the first half.

Starting in Falcons' territory three times, the Ravens managed only a field goal with Chris Redman working the first quarter and Kyle Boller playing the second. In the first half, the quarterbacks combined for eight of 17 passing for 75 yards and one interception.

The offense totaled 111 yards in that half and failed to convert six of eight third downs. Boller led two scoring drives -- including throwing the game's only offensive touchdown -- in the third quarter against Atlanta's second unit.

"Not capitalizing on [field position] has got to be better," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "We have to be able to make more plays. Clearly when you're playing defense and you do well on special teams, you've got to come away with more than a field goal."

From the start, the Ravens' defense dictated the pace, stuffing the run and stifling Vick.

The domination of Vick was so thorough that the Falcons couldn't gain a first down in their Pro Bowl quarterback's four series.

The game's first drive set the tone. Pressured by linebackers Lewis and Peter Boulware, Vick was sacked by end Marques Douglas and then called timeout. On the second play, newly relocated linebacker Thomas tipped Vick's pass, which was intercepted by cornerback Chris McAlister at the Falcons' 22-yard line.

After the offense sputtered with a three-and-out, Matt Stover's 33-yard field goal put the Ravens ahead, 3-0, just 1:49 into the game.

"Obviously when you get field position like we did, we would like to get seven points," Redman said. "But we still have a few weeks to work and we'll be ready for the season."

As the Ravens' offense continued to struggle, their defense made Vick, who was a nearly perfect 6-for-7 for 110 yards last week, look quite imperfect.

The Falcons' second drive produced 3 yards. Their third netted 5 yards. And their fourth ended with 8 yards and their worst nightmare.

Backed up to his own end zone, Vick scrambled to convert a third down and was chased down by Thomas. As Thomas came high to drag him down, Vick's right leg got smashed into the dome's artificial FieldTurf -- which is similar to the one at the Ravens' M&T; Bank Stadium -- and his right fibula was fractured.

Some of the Ravens said they heard the bone break while others were surprised to see Vick wincing in pain.

"He was running for the first down and I went for the tackle," Thomas said. "I didn't have any idea [an injury occurred]. I was getting ready for punt return and they stopped the play.

"It was a clean, legal hit."

Vick, who was carted off with 4:20 left in the first quarter, will be evaluated today, when the Falcons will determine exactly how long he will be sidelined.

"We just have to wait and see," Falcons coach Dan Reeves said. "It's a tough break for us."

At the time when Vick exited, the Ravens' offense came to life.

Redman connected on a 15-yard pass to Todd Heap and an 18-yarder to Travis Taylor to march the ball to the Atlanta 22. But two penalties -- an offensive pass interference call on receiver Marcus Robinson and a false start by right guard Bennie Anderson -- moved the Ravens 15 yards back.

The bad streak continued when Stover, who is nearly automatic inside the 40-yard line, saw his 35-yard field-goal attempt blocked late in the first quarter.

Redman, who only played the first quarter, finished 4-for-7 for 42 yards. "I thought we did some things well," Redman said.

Oddly, the Falcons had their most success against the Ravens' starting defense without Vick.

Doug Johnson, who replaced Vick, hit MarTay Jenkins in stride down the left sideline for 42 yards as Ravens cornerback Corey Fuller trailed by a few steps. The Ravens' defense rebounded back to form and stopped Atlanta on a third-and-one, as nose tackle Kelly Gregg got excellent penetration and Boulware knocked the Falcons' Warrick Dunn back a yard.

Jay Feely's 53-yard field goal tied the game at 3 early in the second quarter.

Boller entered in the second quarter and had his first playing time with the starters.

Under good pressure, he was 4-for-10 for 33 yards during a short but frantic time with the first group. His worst decision came two plays after an interception by Alvin Porter set the Ravens up at the Falcons' 35. Making a poor read, Boller's pass was easily picked off by Ray Buchanan.

Boller had better success against the Falcons' second unit, giving the Ravens a 10-3 lead on the opening series of the second half. The first-round pick led a nine-play, 74-yard drive that included a 46-yard throw to Ron Johnson and concluded with a 1-yard touchdown toss to Terry Jones on a third-and-goal.

The Ravens extended their lead to 13-3 in the third quarter on a 30-yard field goal by Stover. The bulk of the 83-yard drive came on a 30-yard pass interference penalty and another long connection between Boller and Johnson for 41 yards.

The Ravens' third quarterback, Anthony Wright, played the final nine minutes.

Atlanta closed to within 13-10 with 1:51 left, when cornerback Bryan Scott recovered Ravens running back Dameon Hunter's fumble and returned it 67 yards for a touchdown.

"I am continuing to learn," said Boller, who was 9-for-18 for 132 yards. "I felt more comfortable this time out. I came back in the third quarter after throwing the interception. I can't let the mistake slow me down. We have to keep being aggressive. I am glad [offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh] let me do that."

Next for Ravens

Preseason opponent: Washington Redskins

Site: FedEx Field, Landover

When: Saturday, 8 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 45, Comcast SportsNet/WJFK (1300 AM), WQSR (102.7 FM)

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