Atlanta backup quarterback Matt Schaub completed 11 of 13 passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Atlanta Falcons to a 27-21 comeback victory over the Indianapolis Colts Saturday night in the NFL Tokyo 2005.
The two Super Bowl contenders kicked off the NFL preseason game in front of 45,203 fans at Tokyo Dome. The first preseason game for both teams was a wild affair, with eight turnovers combined, which excited the Japanese football fans present.
The Colts got on the scoreboard first. Free safety Bob Sander intercepted a pass off Michael Vick, which was tipped off by receiver Brian Finneran, to give the Colts the first possession of the game.
Starting the drive at the Atlanta 47-yard line, Peyton Manning connected short passes to Marvin Harrison and Bryan Fletcher before hitting Troy Walters with a 2-yard touchdown strike with 6:45 remaining in the first quarter.
The Falcons wasted no time responding in their second possession, showing their strong running game which led the league last season. Warrick Dunn, who rushed for 1,106 yards and career-high nine touchdowns, carried seven times for 38 yards during the scoring drive that was capped by a 28-yard field goal by Todd Peterson with 14:56 to play in the second quarter.
As expected, Vick left the game after the drive and so did Manning after throwing an interception to Falcons linebacker Michael Boley in his second possession in the second quarter. In limited action, Manning completed 6 of 9 for 36 and a score and an interception, while Vick went 4 of 7 for 51 yards and a pickoff. Vick also added 10 yards rushing on a scramble.
Among other star players, Edgerrin James rushed for 20 yards on three carries; Harrison had three receptions for 20 yards for the Colts. For the Falcons, Dunn rushed for 48 yards on 10 carries; Peerless Price gained 41 on three receptions.
Schaub replaced Vick early in the second quarter and guided the drive earned by Manning’s interception to a 36-yard field goal by Peterson, cutting the Colts lead to 7-6 with 9:33 remaining that quarter.
After forcing the Colts a punt, the Falcons held the ball at their own 5-yard line. But running back Jason Wright fumbled the ball and let it pop up. The Colts linebacker Kendyll Pope picked it up and ran into the end zone for a 14-6 lead.
Schaub soon got to work for the Falcons, leading Atlanta to two consecutive scoring drives. The second-round draft pick in 2004 connected with Price with a 24-yard pass during a 7-play, 61-yard scoring drive that made the score 14-13 with 3:02 left in the first half.
The Falcons soon got the ball back when defensive end Chauncey Davis recovered a Colts fumble. Schaub also threw a 21-yarder to Michael Jenkins to set up a score by Fred McCrary in the next possession. McCrary juggled a pass from Schaub before he caught it as he was falling down on the 2-yard line. Then McCrary rolled his body into the end zone without being touched to give the Falcons a 20-14 lead before the half.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Falcons scored on a Wright’s 1-yard rush for a 27-14 lead.
The Colts countered when third-string quarterback Travis Brown’s 3-yard touchdown pass to John Stanford with 4:02 to play in the game cut the Falcons lead to 27-21. They advanced to the Falcons’ 30-yard line with 90 seconds remaining in the game, but Brown threw three incomplete passes before being sacked and the Falcons ran out the clock to wrap up the win.
The Colts had some concerns on offensive backups. After Manning left the game early in the second quarter, the Colts offense was shut out until Brown’s scoring pass. Second-year Jim Sorgi, who replaced Manning, failed to find the end zone before leaving the game late in the third quarter. He completed 6 of 10 passes for 68 yards. Brown was 10-of-14 for 136 yards and a score with an interception.
The Colts open the 2005 season at the Baltimore Ravens on Sept. 11 while the Falcons play a rematch of last year’s NFC championship game with the Philadelphia Eagles at home in the season-opener on Monday Night Football the following day. The only chance the Colts and Falcons have of playing each other again this season will be when the final two teams advance to Super Bowl XXXX in Detroit.