Matt Ryan and his five greatest comebacks
Matt Ryan has been cool under pressure since he took over the alpha dog position for the Atlanta Falcons. The quarterback has made come-from-behind victories look easy. In just five seasons Ryan has pulled off 16 fourth-quarter comebacks and 23 game-winning drives overall. There has been a lot said about him.
But what can not be stated is that he cracks in stressful situations. Let’s look at his five greatest moments-of-truth.
#1 Jan. 13, 2013 - Opponent: Seattle Seahawks-Score: 30-28
The pressure for Ryan to come out and win his first playoff game was intense.
His current run is the fourth time that he has played in the post-season and this game thus far has been his sole post-season victory.
It started off easy as Ryan and the Falcons found early and dominant success in the first half.
That melted in the fourth quarter as the Falcons let their 20-pt lead give way with just 31 seconds left.
With the self-esteem of this era of the franchise on the line, Ryan once again threw darts under pressure.
Ryan first connected with slot man Harry Douglas near the sideline.
He followed that up with a mid-field strike to Tony Gonzalez.
In a familiar scene, Ryan set-up the kicker and Matt Bryant came out and nailed the victory.
#2 Oct. 12,2008-Opponent: Chicago Bears-Score: 22-20
This is the one that started it all.
Early into Matt Ryan’s rookie campaign he was already deemed something of a prodigy.
Ryan was among of the first of this new wave of quarterbacks that have walked in the door and been successful from day one.
The situation was that the Bears had scored the go-ahead touchdown with 11 seconds left.
99.9-percent of the time, that is a death-blow.
The game is over. Ryan was either was to young or to confident to buy into the numbers.
After Douglas returned a to-yard squib kick to the Falcon’s 44-yard line.
Ryan walked onto the field with six seconds left and connected with Michael Jenkins on a perfect 26-yard back shoulder throw that lead the receiver out-of-bounds with just one tick left on the clock.
Out came Jason Elam for the game-winning field goal. The legend of Ryan was born
Ryan finished the game 22-of-30 for a then career-high 301 passing yards.
#3 Oct. 3, 2010-Opponent: San Francisco 49ers – Score:16-14
This game was a comeback in every sense of the word. Then safety Taylor Mays helped San Francisco jump out to a 14-0 lead.
On this day San Francisco appeared to be the better team even if Ryan had found success against them in previous meetings.
Atlanta fought back and were positioned to take the lead late in the fourth quarter.
Ryan made the rare fourth quarter tactical error and threw a late interception to Nate Clements that for seconds appeared to be the dagger in the team’s heart.
This was until receiver Roddy White now playing the role of the defender came from out of nowhere and stripped Clements of the football during his return.
Atlanta recovered the fumble on their own seven yard line. Ryan proceeded to complete six crucial passes that set up (what else?) a 43-yard game-winning field goal by Matt Bryant.
Ryan finished the day going 26-43 for 273 yards and one touchdown.
#4 Nov.11, 2010-Opponent:Baltimore Ravens-Score: 26-21
Ryan has found success with yet another team that is still in the Super Bowl hunt.
On this evening in Atlanta, Ryan won the favor of Deion” Primetime” Sanders as he threw a game winning touchdown on the evening that Sanders was inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor.
The Falcons were successful early on but flushed a 13-point lead down the toilet.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco seemingly sealed the deal with just over one minute left when he tossed a 9-yard touchdown to Todd Heap.
Ryan promptly engineered a 80-yard drive that featured a crucial third-down grab by Michael Jenkins.
Ryan then found Roddy White for the game winning touchdown with 2o seconds left . Even team coach Mike Smith was stunned.
“That might have been the most the intense game I’ve ever been involved with at any level of football,” Smith told reporters.
Ryan went 32-50 for 316 yards and three touchdowns.
#5 Dec. 20, 2009- Opponents: New York Jets-Score:10-7
2009 was the only season that Ryan did not lead the Falcons to a playoff berth.
Still some special things happened.
Ryan led Atlanta to its first set of back-to-back winning seasons.
He also showed his mettle in this road win.
Ryan returned from a nasty toe injury after missing two games to face the Jets on a nasty winter day.
The stat sheet does not look pretty as both defenses showed up in this low-scoring affair.
Atlanta took three interceptions from Mark Sanchez.
It was what happened with 1:38 remaining that made the headlines.
On fourth and goal, Ryan broke the pocket and found his new teammate Tony Gonzalez in the back of the endzone with a 6-yard bullet.
History has since proven that the pair was just getting started.
Ryan’s numbers were 16 of 34 for 152 yards and 1 touchdown.