Falcons topple Eagles; ejections mar pregame

Associated Press
Published September 13, 2005

ATLANTA - The Falcons and Eagles couldn't wait to get started on their rematch of the NFC Championship Game - two players got kicked out before kickoff.

Then, it was the Falcons who got a bit of payback.

Michael Vick ran for one touchdown and set up another with a long pass, enough to give Atlanta a 14-10 victory Monday night.

Clearly, emotions were running high. Philadelphia's Jeremiah Trotter and Atlanta's Kevin Mathis were ejected after a scuffle broke out in pregame warmups, setting an intense tone for the rest of the night.

The Eagles, after falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter, shut down Vick the rest of the way. But they couldn't come all the way back, their final bid falling short when Donovan McNabb took a vicious hit from Rod Coleman, a fourth-down pass falling far short of Terrell Owens streaking down the sideline with 1:33 left.

Vick kneeled a couple of times to run out the clock, giving the Falcons a victory over the team that knocked them out of the playoffs two of the past three years.

Less than eight months ago, the Eagles beat Atlanta 27-10 for the NFC title in frigid Philadelphia.

About a half-hour before kickoff, with thousands of fans still making their way into the Georgia Dome and players going through routine warmups, the teams began jawing near midfield.

Trotter, the Eagles' three-time Pro Bowl linebacker, apparently shoved Mathis, a backup cornerback. Mathis responded with a punch. Then, everyone got into it. After checking the replay monitor, officials kicked out Trotter and Mathis.

Second-year player Mike Labinjo, who got in only three games as a rookie, made his first career start in place of Trotter. The Falcons took advantage, rushing for 200 yards.

Former Florida State and Bucs standout Warrick Dunn led the way with 113 yards on 20 carries.

After taking a 14-0 lead, Vick struggled the rest of the way, throwing an interception and losing two fumbles. He completed 12 of 23 passes for 156 yards, but did manage 68 yards rushing.