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In the 2001 NFL draft, the Falcons orchestrated a trade with the San Diego Chargers, acquiring the first overall pick (which was used on quarterback Michael Vick) in exchange for wide receiver-return specialist Tim Dwight and the fifth overall pick (used on running back LaDainian Tomlinson). The Falcons finished the 2001 season with a record of 79 and missed the playoffs. Jessie Tuggle retired following 14 seasons in Atlanta. On December 6, 2001, Arthur M. Blank reached a preliminary agreement with the Falcons' Taylor Smith to purchase the team. In a special meeting prior to Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans on February 2, 2002, NFL owners voted unanimously to approve the purchase. The 2002 season saw the Falcons return to the playoffs with a regular season record of 961, tying the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was Vick's first year as the starter, and the team, with newly acquired running back Warrick Dunn, delivered the Green Bay Packers their first home playoff loss ever. A 20-6 loss to the Donovan McNabb-led Philadelphia Eagles the following week, however, ended the Falcons' season. On March 19, 2003, the Falcons presented their new logo. During the 2003 preseason Vick broke his leg and missed the first twelve games of the season. After losing 7 straight games, the decision was made to release head coach Dan Reeves. Wade Phillips acted as interim coach for the final 3 games. Although the Falcons won 3 of their last 4 games after the return of Vick, they ended up with a 511 record that year. In 2004, a new head coach, Jim L. Mora, was hired and Vick returned for the full season. The Falcons went 115, winning their third division title and earning a first-round bye into the playoffs. In the divisional playoffs, the Falcons defeated the St. Louis Rams, 4717, in the Georgia Dome, advancing to the NFC Championship Game, which they lost to the Eagles, 2710. The Falcons again fell short of achieving back-to-back winning seasons in 2005, going 88. In 2006, Michael Vick became the first quarterback in league history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season, with 1,039. After finishing the season 79, however, coach Jim Mora was dismissed and Bobby Petrino, the University of Louisville's football coach, replaced him. Before the 2007 season began, Vick was suspended indefinitely by the NFL after pleading guilty to charges involving dog fighting in the state of Virginia. On December 10, 2007, Vick received a 23-month prison sentence and was officially cut from the Atlanta roster.

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