Matt Ryan: 99-yard drive, a playoff win and a timely meeting

January 14, 2017, Atlanta: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan plays the crowd urging them to cheering after tossing a touchdown pass to wide receiver Mohamed Sanu for a 36-13 lead over the Seahawks during the fourth quarter in a NFL football NFC divisional playoff game on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017, in Atlanta. The Falcons beat the Seahawks 36-20. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan plays to the cheering crowd after tossing a touchdown pass to wide receiver Mohamed Sanu for a 36-13 lead over the Seattle Seahawks in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s NFC divisional playoff win at the Georgia Dome. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Quarterbacks aren’t always the reason a team loses a game. So the fact the Falcons were 1-4 in playoff games started by Matt Ryan doesn’t mean every loss was on him. There were games when the defense collapsed, when the offensive line couldn’t run or pass block, when others around him failed.

But it’s fair to say Ryan hasn’t come up big enough in the postseason for playing the most important position on the field. That wasn’t the case in Saturday’s 36-20 divisional playoff win over Seattle. Ryan threw for 338 yards and three touchdowns, without an interception, and registered an efficiency rating of 125.7. The highlight of his day was a 99-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter, during which he completed seven of nine passes for all 99 yards, including a 14-yard score to Tevin Coleman.

He was the superior quarterback to Russell Wilson (two touchdowns, two interceptions, 75.0 rating). He also was the superior leader. After the Falcons drove 75 yards for a touchdown to open the second half, taking a 26-10, Ryan came to the sideline and called all of his teammates together for an impromptu pep rally.

Maybe he was thinking of the 2012 playoff game against Seattle, when the Seahawks rallied from a 20-point deficit to take a lead 28-27 lead in the Georgia Dome, forcing the Falcons to scramble for a last-second win.

Maybe he was thinking of the following week when the Falcons blew a 17-0 lead to San Francisco in the NFC title game and lost 28-24.

“Matt got us all together and he wanted to us to realize we need to keep our poise,” tackle Ryan Schraeder said. “If we got out of funk, it could throw our rhythm off. Being the leader that Matt is, guys listened to him. That was pretty cool, getting us together like that. That really shows what he’s about and I think guys responded very well.”

Ryan has received more than his share of criticism and some wondered about his future after having had one of the worst seasons of his career in 2015. But he has responded with the best season of his career and he may win the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award.

As for the sideline meeting: “In those situations, you have to remember that at the end of the day, what’s our objective and our objective is to win the game. In order to do that I felt like we needed to keep our composure. That was it. Just a reminder to play to the whistle and not worry about all of that stuff that was going on. That’s what happens this time of the year. Games get tough and physical. I thought our guys stepped up to that challenge and kept their composure really, really well.”

The Falcons looked like they belonged on this stage Saturday. So did Ryan.

For my column on the Falcons’ win over Seattle, click here.

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10 comments
TideDawg
TideDawg

Jeff's and Bradley's articles serve one purpose and only one. They provide new space for bloggers to vent back and forth with each other with widely varying opinions.....some respectful, some not so. If you ignore their articles they may lose their jobs......Hmmmmmm!

Harold_1978
Harold_1978

Until yesterday Sid Bream sliding in to win the division was the all time highlight in ATL sports from my view.  Congrats Matt Ryan and Falcons, you've moved to the top of the list!



DawgNole
DawgNole

@Harold_1978

Winning the NFC--and the franchise's only SB berth--with a highly improbable road victory over Minnesota during the '98 season remains at the top of the ATL football list. 

Thanks to their stirring performance last night, however, the Falcons have a solid chance to modify that list next weekend.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@Harold_1978 Congrats to Ryan and the Falcons are well deserved, but Sid Bream sliding home will forever be the top of the list. The Falcons were never challenged in the game Sat. The Braves were hanging on for dear life in their game and Sid Bream scoring on a single was so unlikely that it was bizarre. You gotta figure Bream couldn't outrun a glazier, but he got there. I often wonder if instant replay could have changed that outcome.

WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR
WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR

What happened to Jimmy Graham's shushing the crowd?  In fact, what happened to Jimmy Graham?  Great win Falcons.


FineousMcDirtyBird
FineousMcDirtyBird

We focus on a dumb pump up on the sideline. What's inscrutable to me is why any of these guys need to be reminded how an NFL game should be won. If you ain't the goods, no sideline convo means a damn thing. Guy nearly threw for 400yds against the 3rd best scoring D in the league. Grow up, guy, Bradley doesn't need a partner in stupidity

FineousMcDirtyBird
FineousMcDirtyBird

It's crazy. Matt Ryan is a good QB and team leader. AMAZING JOURNALISTIC INSIGHT INTO A GUY WHO HAS DONE THAT FOR NINE DAMN YEARS!!! Would you like a medal, Jeff?

creative
creative

Those types of guys will always be negative. Work, play, family etc. he can't help it.