Atlanta (1-1) at Buffalo (1-1)

Cloudy Currently: Orchard Park, NY
Temp: 66° F
  • Game info: 1:00 pm EDT Sun Sep 25, 2005
  • TV: FOX
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Atlanta Falcons haven’t had much success in games Michael Vick hasn’t started. They’re hoping to avoid that scenario this week when they visit the Buffalo Bills.

Vick injured his hamstring last Sunday in Atlanta’s 21-18 loss at Seattle, and was held out of practice Wednesday. He returned to practice Thursday, and coach Jim Mora listed Vick as probable for Sunday.

Vick, who walked without a limp, indicated his leg felt better as he strolled through the locker room following practice. The experience of rehabbing a sore hamstring is familiar to Vick, who sustained a similar injury to his right leg 13 months ago when Atlanta practiced for three days with the Tennessee Titans in Nashville.

After aggravating the injury in a 2004 preseason game two weeks later against Minnesota, Vick missed the next exhibition before making an ineffective start in the preseason finale at Washington.

Vick led the Falcons to a season-opening win the following week at San Francisco, but time is more precious following last week’s defeat. Giving his body three days to rest, Vick cleared himself to practice Thursday after a long period of stretching.

“I learned how to take care of it,” Vick said when asked to compare the aftermath of each injury. “I learned how to rehab it and what to do and what not to do. I’m taking precautions, but at the same time I’m doing what I can to try to strengthen it up.”

The Falcons are 24-13-1 in regular-season games Vick has started, and he led the team to last season’s NFC championship game. Atlanta is 9-19 in games he hasn’t started during his five-year career.

Buffalo opened its season by dominating the Houston Texans in a 22-7 win, but that performance didn’t carry over to last weekend.

The Bills had 147 yards of offense and just eight first downs, with four of them coming on a meaningless drive over the final minutes, in losing 19-3 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The defense, which allowed a total of 120 yards to Houston in the opener, gave up 128 on the ground alone to Tampa Bay. Buffalo also failed to generate a turnover for the first time in 12 games.

“It was a smack in the face,” Bills coach Mike Mularkey said. “Maybe, it’ll be a lesson we’ll learn from … I think we need to see how we’re going to respond together.”

J.P. Losman completed only two passes in the first half and was sacked for a safety in his second career start. He finished 12-of-29 for 113 yards and spent a fourth-quarter series on the bench, just one week after engineering five straight scoring drives against the Texans.

“It was frustrating. I’m upset about it,” Losman said. “It’s like you’ve been punched in the mouth. … Losing is not good and it’s not going to be accepted with me or this organization.”

The Bills also struggled on the ground after gaining 152 yards in the opener. Against Tampa Bay, Willis McGahee finished with 34 yards rushing before he was also benched in the fourth quarter.

“It’s very hard to call plays, get into a rhythm when you’re having three-and-outs,” Mularkey said. “And I just think the run game will help J.P.’s progress.”

This is the first meeting between the teams in Buffalo since a 23-17 victory by the Bills on Nov. 12, 1995. That defeat was Atlanta’s first in six visits to Ralph Wilson Stadium.

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Scoreboard

Preseason
  Thursday, Sep 1  
  Atlanta
Miami 20
17 Final
     
  Houston
Tampa Bay 14
38 Final
     
  NY Jets
Philadelphia 37
14 Final
     
  Washington
Baltimore 20
26 Final
OT
     
  Pittsburgh
Carolina 21
17 Final
     
  Cleveland
Chicago 16
6 Final
     
  Jacksonville
Dallas 20
27 Final
     
  Green Bay
Tennessee 21
17 Final
     
  NY Giants
New England 27
3 Final
     
  New Orleans
Oakland 6
13 Final
     
  San Francisco
San Diego 24
28 Final
      Friday, Sep 2  
  Detroit
Buffalo 21
7 Final
     
  Indianapolis
Cincinnati 0
38 Final
     
  Kansas City
St. Louis 23
27 Final
     
  Minnesota
Seattle 23
21 Final
     
  Denver
Arizona 30
21 Final