As the short-handed Atlanta Falcons faced the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers, many analysts believed that this could be another “trap” game for a Falcons team that was severely handcuffed with injuries. Instead of listening to the outside noise, Matt Ryan put on a show in the Georgia Dome and showed that the Falcons aren’t out of it just yet.
The Falcons improved to 2-4 while the Buccaneers dropped to 0-6 as the Dirty Birds hung on to a 31-23 victory behind their leader Ryan.
With Pro Bowler Roddy White missing his first game in his nine-year career along with Steven Jackson missing his fourth straight game, Ryan simply put on a clinic against a Buccaneers’ secondary that was ranked 18th in the league and featured one of the game’s greatest corners in Darrelle Revis.
While Ryan was missing both his starting wide receivers in White and Julio Jones, the Buccaneers couldn’t tell as Ryan completed 20-of-26 passes for 273 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions. Ryan’s favorite target was Harry Douglas, who caught seven passes for 149 yards and scored one touchdown, with the other two touchdown passes caught by Jacquizz Rodgers.
Those two players aren’t considered to be “star” players or were even mentioned when the Falcons were considered an explosive team offensively, but it didn’t matter to Ryan who he was throwing to because he elevated the Falcons into a gear that has become rare in this disappointing season.
Although many were quick to point out that the Falcons barely beat one of the worst teams in the NFL, one that has yet to win a single game, people forget that winning a game in the NFL is always difficult, whether it’s an undefeated team or a winless team.
The way the Falcons’ season has gone so far has been unimaginable, and because of their dismal season people have forgotten that Ryan is on pace to have his greatest statistical season yet. Through six games, Ryan has thrown for 1,922 yards with 13 touchdowns to three interceptions and a completion rate 70.1 percent with a passer rating of 105.9.
If the Falcons want to have any hope or chance of making a run in getting a Wild Card spot, it will be up to Matty Ice to take his level to a whole different level and elevate his teammates at the same time.
Against the Buccaneers, Ryan willed his team to a victory and his big day performance helped his Falcons not only to their second victory of the year but revived the Falcons and gave them some life in a season of misfortunes.
The odds of the Falcons making the playoffs are very slim, but with Ryan at the helm, they will always have a fighting chance of doing the impossible. On Sunday, Ryan stared down fate and took control, as the Falcons’ season comes down to one game at a time from here on out.