Michael Vick helped jump-start the Eagles' latest playoff surge.
Vick scored a pair of touchdowns _ one running, the other passing, both of them his first since 2006 _ to help lead Philadelphia to a 34-7 victory Sunday.
"It couldn't have happened at a better time," Vick said. "I want to become one of the top quarterbacks in this league again."
Vick ran for a 5-yard touchdown in the third quarter, his first since Oct. 15, 2006. With the game out of hand, he threw a 5-yard scoring pass to Brent Celek early in the fourth, his first TD throw since that final season with the Falcons.
He was a three-time Pro Bowler with the Falcons and one of the most dynamic players in the NFL before his stunning downfall for dogfighting. After serving prison time and losing two seasons in the prime of his career, he's trying to rebuild it all as a backup in Philadelphia.
"It was as loud as it gets in the Dome," said Vick, who teared up on the bus ride over to the stadium. "I heard the chants all through the stadium and it sent chills down my spine. They were just letting me know that people still appreciate what I've done."
The Eagles certainly did as Vick helped them move into a tie for first place in the NFC East. Philadelphia (8-4) strengthened its playoff case with its third straight win, leaving the Eagles in a first-place tie with Dallas.
Quarterback Donovan McNabb said the playoff surge is what the Eagles expect.
"Absolutely. It's something that has been happening to us for years now," McNabb said.
"This is the time that people remember," he said. "You never remember September and October. You remember November, December and January. You want to hit the playoffs rolling if you have that opportunity. We know what is at stake and we have to play like it is the last game."
McNabb completed 14 of 25 passes for 238 yards, including a 4-yard scoring pass to fullback Leonard Weaver for the only touchdown of the first half.
The Falcons (6-6) have lost three of four, and five of seven after a 4-1 start. They play undefeated New Orleans next week.
Injuries left the Falcons with little more than a second-string offense. The Falcons were without five starters on offense: quarterback Matt Ryan, running back Michael Turner, receiver Michael Jenkins, left tackle Sam Baker and right guard Harvey Dahl.
Ryan, who has a turf toe injury, wore a walking boot while watching from the sideline. Chris Redman made his first start since 2007 against the Eagles.
"We can't make excuses," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "There are no excuses. Injuries are a fact in the NFL and this late in the season you're going to have guys down. It just happened so fast that we're not as healthy as we would like to have been."
The Falcons were held to only 61 yards rushing while Redman had two interceptions returned for 120 yards, including an 83-yard return for a touchdown by Sheldon Brown.
Atlanta's only score came on a 3-yard pass from Redman to Roddy White in the final seconds.
"We were beat on all levels, and it's an embarrassment to the organization and our team," defensive end Jamaal Anderson said. "We never imagined that this would happen. With Michael coming back, they came into this game with a lot of emotion, and we weren't ready for what they brought to the field."
Vick, selected as a game captain by Eagles coach Andy Reid, made the most of his return. He completed each of his two passes, including a 43-yarder to Reggie Brown to set up a touchdown.
"You knew when Vick came back to Atlanta, he was going to be on fire," said Falcons running back Jerious Norwood, who started for Turner but had only 18 yards rushing on 11 carries.
Smith said the Falcons should not assume they are out of the wild-card race.
"This was not a do-or-die game," Smith said. "There's a lot of football to play. There's going to be a lot of teams that have to play each other. A lot of things will happen over the next month of the season, including stuff that started this week, and that's how we have to approach this."
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