By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
BEREA, Ohio (AP) - Corey Fuller knew three years ago he was seeing something very special.
As a spectator at the 2000 Sugar Bowl, the Cleveland Browns cornerback stood in awe as he watched a gifted college quarterback display his amazing athletic skills.
Michael Vick took Fuller's breath away.
"He almost beat Florida State by himself," Fuller said, recalling Vick's remarkable performance in the 2000 Sugar Bowl. "I thought he was going to be a hell of a player."
Fuller will get a much closer look at Vick this Sunday when the Browns (8-7) host the Atlanta Falcons (9-5-1) with huge playoff implications on the line for both teams.
Cleveland's hopes will hinge on stopping Vick, Atlanta's speedy quarterback who has been running through, around and from NFL defenses all season.
Fuller was there on Jan. 4, 2000, when Vick, then a junior at Virginia Tech, dazzled the Seminoles and a national TV audience with his wondrous skills.
Using his amazing speed, Vick darted across the artificial turf at the Superdome in New Orleans as he single-handedly kept Virginia Tech in a game it would eventually lose 46-29.
Standing on the Florida State sideline that night, Fuller marveled at Vick's quick feet and rocket arm. He knew a future pro star was being born.
"Me and Randy Moss were standing there, and I said, 'Look at that out ball he throws'. Now he's in the NFL doing it. He can throw it 70 yards. Hopefully, the wind will be blowing hard (on Sunday)," he said.
Mother Nature might be able to help the Browns defend against Vick's passes, but it's his running ability that has Cleveland's defenders most concerned.
Vick enters the season's final regular-season game as the NFC's 14th ranked rusher with 739 yards. He has run for eight touchdowns and is averaging 6.9 yards per carry.
"He runs the daylights out of the ball," Browns defensive end Kenard Lang said.
What separates Vick from other pro QBs is his knack for making big plays out of nothing.
Just when it appears he's about to be sacked, Vick can elude an oncoming rusher with a head fake, stiff arm or shoulder shrug and sprint for a first down.
And if a defender isn't careful, Vick can fool them into thinking he's going to run and then zip off a pass.
The Browns have their hands full.
"He's extraordinarily dangerous when he gets out of the pocket because he can make so many things happen," Browns coach Butch Davis said. "The most dangerous part of it is the impatience of
the people in coverage. You want so desperately to come out and tackle him, but he can throw the ball across the field 55 yards with a laser shot for a touchdown. He's very dangerous. He's pretty
Cleveland hasn't faced any QB as multitalented as Vick this season. The closest may be New Orleans' Aaron Brooks, whom the Browns harassed into throwing three interceptions earlier this
The Browns hope to pressure Vick, who has been sacked 31 times this season.
"He is sackable," Davis said.
True. But you have to catch Vick first.
"I hope we can slow him down," said tackle Orpheus Roye. "But he can make some amazing plays."
Fuller has seen a few plays that have made him believe that Vick is something special.
"There are people that God spent a little extra time on," Fuller said. "He made them special. It's going to be another 15 years before there's another Michael Vick comes out or another Randy Moss or another LeBron James, Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan.
"Those guys got special talent. The rest of us are just good."
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)