Atlanta Falcons 50: Matt Ryan’s Top 10 Performances – #8


Today, we continue our “Falcons 50” countdown with our mini-series written by staff writer Kevin Knight. Kevin is counting down Matt Ryan’s top 10 performances, and today moves onto No. 8.

You can find the full list of “Falcons 50” posts here.

The Atlanta Falcons have an amazing quarterback in Matt Ryan. After so many years of sub-par QB play and the debacle that was the 2007 season, the team struck gold in the young signal caller from Boston College. Since then, Atlanta has experienced years of consistent leadership and competent quarterbacking from Ryan.

Ryan is, without a doubt, the best QB in Atlanta Falcons history. His numbers speak for themselves, but his play goes beyond the numbers. He’s the unquestioned leader of this team and the face of the franchise. Ryan is a top-10 QB in the NFL today and, in my mind, is either elite or borderline elite already.

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His ability to stay cool and collected during the biggest moments of games, commonly the last drive of the fourth quarter, and engineer comeback after comeback has earned him the nickname “Matty Ice”.

Ryan has built an excellent rapport with star WR Julio Jones, and the two of them combine for one of the most potent passing offenses in the NFL.

As we count down the final fifty days until the beginning of the NFL season, let us fondly remember some of Matt Ryan’s greatest games with the Atlanta Falcons. Keep in mind that these are based on Matt Ryan’s performance, not the entire team’s performance.

#8 – Atlanta Falcons 40, Kansas City Chiefs 24 – 2012 “A Statement to Start the Season”

At #8, we have a game that is fondly remembered by fans for a myriad of reasons. For one, it was a great start to an historic season that nearly ended in a Super Bowl appearance. Another would be that Matt Ryan put on a show, throwing for 3 TDs and running in a fourth.

But let’s be honest here: the real reason this game makes the list is that Ryan made Warren Sapp look absolutely silly. If you don’t remember Sapp’s comments before the game, allow me to refresh your memory.

If you aren’t familiar with Sapp, consider yourself lucky. If you are, then you’ll understand why this game felt so good to Falcons fans everywhere.

2012 had the Falcons in a very precarious position. Atlanta had just lost miserably in the playoffs, but the team was still mostly intact and expectations were high for the team to rebound. They truly needed a statement game to get the team and the fans energized for the season ahead.

Matt Ryan had a stellar day, matching a career-high four TDs with three through the air and one on the ground.

The game started out very competitive. The Falcons struck first, with Ryan completing an 8-yd TD pass to Julio Jones midway through the first quarter. Kansas City would kick a field goal several minutes later, and Atlanta would respond with one of their own. The score was notched at 10-3 going into the second.

Early in the second quarter, Matt Cassel would complete a 22-yd TD pass to Kevin Boss to tie the game up at 10-10. The teams would trade TDs and end up at 17-17 before Matt Bryant completed a field goal with 10 seconds before halftime. Atlanta would take a 20-17 lead.

It was all Falcons from then on. Ryan would run in a 5-yd TD to make it 27-17. The Chiefs’ next drive would see John Abraham sack Matt Cassel and force a fumble that was recovered by the Falcons. On the Falcons first play after the fumble, Ryan would complete a 7-yd TD to Tony Gonzalez to make it 34-17 Falcons.

Atlanta would kick two more field goals in the fourth quarter to push the game out of reach for the Chiefs. The final score sat at 40-24 after Shaun Draughn scored on a 4-yd TD run just before time expired.

This game was a perfect start to the season for Atlanta. The offense and defense both looked good, with the latter notching two interceptions, a forced fumble, and three sacks. Ryan had a stellar day, matching a career high four TDs with three through the air and one on the ground.

He ended up finishing 23-31 (74.2%) for 299 yds and 3 TDs to go along with 25 yds rushing and one TD.

But really, this game is special because it truly made Warren Sapp look like a fool. And that is enjoyable no matter what.

What did you think of the game? Any fond memories of seething with rage after seeing Sapp’s pre-game prediction, then trolling him on Twitter after the conclusion? Share in the comments below!

Stay tuned tomorrow for #7, an explosively high scoring and record-setting affair that was a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season.

Next: Who are you most excited to see at Atlanta Falcons training camp?

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