Superstar challenges

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:17 AM ET

Michael Vick vs. Donovan McNabb is an angle just too sexy to ignore. Two of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the NFL will meet in today's NFC Championship and it doesn't take deep analysis to suggest whichever one fares best will advance.

The real story, though, will be how each defence copes with their opposing superstar.

Both the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles have attack-style defences built to harass opposing quarterbacks. The Falcons, led by Patrick Kerney and Rod Coleman, had a league-high 48 sacks.

The Eagles, who brought in free agent Jevon Kearse for the express purpose of getting after Daunte Culpepper and Vick, were second in the league at 47.

With two former Eagles back this season -- Hugh Douglas on the line and Jeremiah Trotter at linebacker --the Eagles defence can bring it.

"(Kearse) is a guy that can effect the quarterback on every down," Falcons coach Jim Mora said. "He can run things down from the back side and he's tough to move from the front side."

When the Eagles and Falcons met in a divisional playoff two years ago, Vick was held to just 30 yards rushing. The slick quarterback's elusiveness is a little misleading too -- the Falcons allowed 50 sacks in the regular season, the fifth most in the league.

Last week, though, Vick scooted for 119 yards in a divisional round win over the St. Louis Rams.

"From what I can remember, they pressured me," said Vick of the first playoff meeting with the Eagles. "They ran some guys at me and kind of knocked me out of rhythm."

The Falcons defence, of course, will attempt to do the same thing to McNabb, who will be without his prime weapon -- injured wideout Terrell Owens, who caught 14 of the quarterback's 31 touchdown passes.

Leading that charge will be Kerney, whose speed off the end makes him such a pain to opposing QBs.

"Donovan has matured so much, he uses his running ability really only when he has to but he's still a huge threat," Kerney said. "It's a matter of closing down his lanes he can't just pick up alley-ways and first downs."


Videos

Photos