Atlanta Falcons: Best Matt Ryan career moments

Jan 3, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) passes the football against the New Orleans Saints during the second quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 3, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) passes the football against the New Orleans Saints during the second quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

Matt Ryan’s clutch factor gave him the nickname Matty Ice, and he snatched victory from the jaws of defeat several times in a red and black uniform.

Week 1, 2008

With the third overall pick of the 2008 NFL draft, the Atlanta Falcons selected their franchise quarterback out of Boston College. As a third overall pick should, Ryan won the starting job for the Falcons, and would go on to start for every game in his career thus far.

He began his NFL career with a bang. His first ever NFL pass was a 62-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Michael Jenkins. Wes Durham calling the play still gives me chills. The Falcons would go on to beat the Lions 34-21.

Week 6, 2008

Matt Ryan definitely started his NFL career with a bit of flare, but he didn’t live up to the Matty Ice nickname until Week 6 of his rookie season. The Falcons are playing the Bears in Atlanta.

The home crowd is roaring with the Falcons up by six with just 18 seconds left to play. But suddenly, Kyle Orton zips a touchdown pass to Rashied Davis, and the Bears lead by one. Following the Falcons kick return, Matt Ryan has just six seconds to work a miracle.

Luckily for the Falcons, he did just that. A quick pass down the field to Michael Jenkins gives the kicker who grew up outside Atlanta, Jason Elam, a chance for a game winning field goal. Spoiler: He makes it.

Week 4, 2010

The storied franchise of San Francisco is up to an early 14-0 lead in Atlanta thanks to an Alex Smith touchdown pass and a blocked punt. However, the Falcons defense would keep the 49ers in their place, allowing no further scoring. Fast forward to the end of the game, and the Falcons are trailing 13-14.

Perfect situation for Matty Ice to lead the Falcons to victory, but he throws a poorly timed interception to Nate Clements. The 49ers sideline erupts with cheering and enthusiastic towel waving, only to be silenced a moment later.

The 2010 All-Pro receiver and fan favorite, Roddy White, chased down Clements and forced a fumble that the Falcons would recover. With the ball back in his hands, Ryan overcame his error and lead the Atlanta offense down the field. Matty Ice gave the other clutch player named Matt, the kicker, Matt “Money” Bryant, a game-winning field goal opportunity, and Bryant drilled it.

Week 4, 2012

The Falcons are wearing their throwback uniforms and the hated Carolina Panthers are in the Georgia Dome. Cam Newton lead Carolina to a 28-27 fourth quarter lead. Ryan has the ball on his own one yard line. That’s right, HIS one yard line, 99 yards away from the end zone.

But it was no big deal for Matty Ice, a deep bomb to Roddy White allowed Atlanta to work the ball into field goal range. Matt Bryant had yet another opportunity to win the game for the Falcons, and once again he delivered.

Week 1, 2014

The Falcons would ultimately perform unimpressively in 2014, with a 6-10 record and no playoffs, but they started the season in exciting fashion. Atlanta’s fierce rivals, the New Orleans Saints, came into the Georgia Dome and participated in an electric offensive shootout.

Quarterbacks Ryan and Drew Brees both had fantastic games, while both defenses watched. Matty Ice had a career day, throwing for 448 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. His elite performance kept the Falcons in the tight contest.

As the game was closing, Ryan drove the Atlanta offense into the Saints territory, allowing Matt Bryant to kick a game-tying field goal on the last play of regulation. William Moore stripped the ball from Saints WR Marques Colston in overtime, and the Dome exploded with cheers as Bryant hit the game winner. This game that had every Falcons fan biting their nails with anxiety was a bright spot on an otherwise disappointing season.

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It seems that NFL experts and pundits are always debating if Ryan is an elite quarterback or not, but that ultimately doesn’t matter. What matters is the energy and passion that he plays for Atlanta. Every time the ball is his hands, he’s trying his damned hardest to win the game for us.