Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan adds two more accolades in win over Jets
The Atlanta Falcons today managed to win a game against the New York Jets, 27-20, in a game which saw the Falcons offense come out red hot to start, cool down in the third, and finish the job with a 75-yard touchdown drive when they needed it most.
Much of this game can be attested to quarterback Matt Ryan, who went 33/45 with 342 yards and two touchdowns, increasing his interception-free streak to three games. He routinely found receivers beating man coverage, as he revealed during a postgame interview with NFL Network sideline reporter Melissa Stark, and also was hitting tight windows that easily could’ve gone the other way (including the dreaded third-and-1 three-step drop back into a speed out which somehow landed in Hayden Hurst’s hands and not the Jets defender on the play).
Not only that, but Ryan’s first touchdown of the game came at the end of a 92-yard drive, aided by key receptions by Cordarrelle Patterson and Lee Smith (the latter on busted coverage), and was caught by rookie tight end Kyle Pitts, his first career score in the NFL (also admitting later that he thought he’d drop it because the sun was in his eyes).
That said, during this contest, Ryan managed to add two more accolades towards his growing Hall of Fame.
With a short four-yard completion to Olamide Zaccheaus, Ryan became the seventh quarterback in NFL history to complete 5,000 passes in his career. Furthermore, he also became the fifth quarterback to do it with a single team, joining Ben Roethlisberger, Brett Favre, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees (Brees is the only one faster than Ryan, doing it in five fewer contests).
Also, in this contest, Ryan managed to pass Eli Manning for eighth all-time in passing yards. As of the conclusion of this contest, Ryan has 57,099 yards in his career, and the next person on the list is Dan Marino (61,361), who at one point had this record by a good 10,000 yards at the time of his retirement. The next active quarterback for Ryan to pass would be Roethlisberger, who has 61,381 at the time of publication and most likely will finish with 62,000+ when he retires.
Now, for those who wish to bash Ryan’s performance, let’s concede some basic facts. Yes, they were playing the Jets, a team which is just as, if not worse, than our team (they have zero net yards passing in the first quarter). Yes, the team could’ve scored more points if not for some fumbles by Hayden Hurst and Mike Davis inside the Jets’ 25-yard line. Yes, our defense is still suspect at times but made stops when needed. And yes, for the second straight week, special teams were a problem (24-yard punt by Colquitt and a 65-yard kickoff return by former Falcon Tevin Coleman to set up the first Jets touchdown).
That said, in a game like this, where pretty much everyone is counting your team out, and your top two receivers are left in Atlanta along with the kicking net, this is where a 14-year veteran whose last trip to London ended poorly needed to step up and deliver against another inferior opponent.
Again, it’s not like Ryan’s Hall of Fame status should be argued at this point. The man has done everything shy of bringing home the Lombardi for our city, and while he does rightfully get criticized when he plays poorly, the game against the Jets was anything else. Also, in the last three contests since that game against the Buccaneers, here’s Ryan’s stat line (yes, against opponents on or below their skill level): 85/123 (69.1%), eight touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a 110.76 passer rating.
Along with the help of his team, Ryan did what Falcons fans, and NFL fans in general, hope their team does while leading a game: FINISH. THE. JOB.
Or, as Ryan said on the sidelines after the clinching touchdown run by Mike Davis (also aided by a HUGE 3rd-and-13 conversion by Zaccheaus):