Matt Ryan has been dogged for years about his inability to get the job done in the playoffs or in any really big game during the regular season. Two years ago, it appeared as though Ryan, also known as “Matty Ice,” had finally gotten rid of that negativity by quarterbacking the Atlanta Falcons to a division title, best record in the NFL, and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Then the Green Bay Packers came to the Georgia Dome and smoked the Falcons on their way to a Super Bowl title. This season has already been much different.
While the Falcons did win another division title and secure one of the best records in pro football, it was in a weaker division than a few years ago and wasn’t done quite in the dominant fashion it was back then. The key difference this year is that Ryan has played much better overall this season and was able to lead his team to a playoff victory at home in the same round they were dispatched from the playoffs two years ago.
Last week against the Seattle Seahawks, Ryan looked dynamite for the first thirty minutes. He hooked up with Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White for touchdown passes and led the Falcons to two other scoring drives during the half, both ending in field goals. When all was said and done, the Falcons went into halftime with a 20-point lead. After both teams scored in the third quarter (the Falcons scoring second and with another Ryan TD pass), the lead was still at 20 and Ryan was well on his way to that playoff performance that would send him to the next level in terms of prestige. It almost didn’t happen.
Russell Wilson and the Seahawks scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter while the Falcons’ defense and Ryan were held in check for the only time in the game. Wilson ran & threw a touchdown while Marshawn Lynch ran in the go-ahead score from a yard out; Lynch lost the ball going into the end-zone, but it was later ruled correctly that he lost the ball after the ball crossed the plane of the end-zone was a touchdown.
This left Ryan and the Falcons down 28-27 with around thirty seconds to produce some kind of score to take back the victory. Ryan, as he has done several times in the last two seasons, lead his team into Seahawks territory with two long completions in around twenty seconds that set up a Matt Bryant field-goal to win it for the Falcons.
It has been another great year for the Falcons, but more so it’s been another great year for Ryan. He’s had his bumps in the road while guiding this team through the season, but he and his team have come out smelling like roses thus far. Is it really time to see the Falcons in the Super Bowl again? Is it really time for Matty Ice to take a spot among the best quarterbacks in all of football by guiding his team to a conference championship and Super Bowl berth? We’ll know the answer later today.