Trigger man of the most prolific offense in the NFL Matt Ryan delivered like UPS instead of brown he hit guys in red 8 different receivers caught passes as he performed like a well-trained surgeon leading the Atlanta Falcons to victory in the NFC South Divisional Playoff game over playoff savvy Seattle Seahawks 36-20 in what could be the last game played in the GA Dome. Ryan has put together with the tutor ledge of offensive coordinator Kyle Shannahan, an MVP type of season rivaling a Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Breeze or Peyton Manning type of performance passing for 5000 yards 38 touchdowns to seven interceptions for the best QB rating (117.1) in the NFL.
The game featured a mono y mono match up the Falcons high flying number one ranked offense producing an NFL best 33.8 points per game for a grand total of more than 500 points this season and generated 415.8 yards in total offense for second best in that category vs the stingy Seattle defense lead by polarizing figure Richard Sherman who was designated a major assignment All World Julio Jones perhaps the best receiver in football who finished second in receiving with 1409 yards while missing games due to a toe injury or improperly inflated wheel. This clash of the NFC Titans played out to a sellout crowd that cheered to decibels unheard in the A.T.L
The game couldn’t have started any better for Seattle scoring on a 14 play 89-yard drive that took up half the first quarter when Russel Wilson hit Jimmy Graham for a 7-yard touchdown pass. That type of statement drive would have taken the wind out of a lot of teams but not the 2016 version of the Falcons Brotherhood under second-year head coach Dan Quinn who has a record of 19-13 and the city of Atlanta electrified.The Falcons didn’t touch the ball until the 6:26 mark. They had to be salivating at the bit because when they touched the field they responded with their own statement drive that took up the rest of the first quarter going 13 plays and 75 yards before Ryan tossed a 7 yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones who caught the slant in front of one of the game’s best defenders Richard Sherman.
Russell Wilson and the birds from up North returned to the field on a mission. He connected with P. Richardson on what appeared to be a 52-yard touchdown but after further review, the call was reversed and the ball was placed at the 19-yard line with a new series where he was actually down by contact. B Reed was a bit disappointed with that gain so he broke through the line and sacked Russell Wilson for a 7-yard loss which forced Seattle to kick a 33 hard field goal by S. Hauschka resulting in 3 points instead of 7 making the score 10-7.
The Falcons returned with no answer going three and out. Just when it appeared momentum was swinging to the Hawks a punt resulted with them first and ten from their own 7-yard line. Deion Jones and D. Campbell combined to tackle T. Rawls for a 3-yard loss. Excitement swept through the dome and the Falcons defense shifted to overdrive. On the next play, B Garland on offensive guard playing defense ripped through the line and sacked the elusive Russell Wilson before he could react in the end zone for a safety. The thunderous cheering from the Falcon faithful nearly took the roof off the dome. Right then right there that was the turning point in the game.
Dan Quinn said “I thought the fans lit it up for us tonight. We called for it, they delivered, and no doubt they’re a huge part of our brotherhood as this team goes and the city and the connection with the fans. For them, we appreciate it and we’ll find out if we get another one.”
The Falcons received the kick at the 43-yard line. Syncing blood Ryan hit T. Gabriel for 37 yards but the Seattle defense stood up preventing a touchdown by tackling Devonta Freeman at the 17 yard line forcing M. Bryant on to kick a 35 yard field goal giving the Falcons the lead for the first time 12-10 with 6:09 in the half. The Atlanta defense forced a three and out but the punt was downed at the one-yard line. In previous years this was pick six territory but not today Matt Ryan engineered a 9 play 99 yard back breaking drive that ended with a 14-yard touchdown pass to T. Coleman extending the Falcons lead 19-10 at the half.
Matt Ryan said “that drive was kind of a synopsis of what we did the entire day. We executed really well.”
The Falcons returned from the break determined to snuff out the opponent putting together an impressive 13 play 75-yard drive capped off by Devonta Freemans one yard plunge into the end zone adding to their lead 26-10. Russell Wilson in typical fashion danced around in the backfield eluding potential tackles to throw a dart to B Poole for 40 yards deep right. The drive stalled and S. Hauschka kicked a 26-yard field goal the score was 26-13 in favor of Atlanta. That drive was perhaps more beneficial to Atlanta because it lasted 14 plays compiled 80 yards but took 6:09 off the clock. Utilizing the rules of football 1-0-1 trading 3 points for six minutes off the clock while holding onto a 13 point lead “I would take it”. That’s like dying a slow death and you are contributing to it.
Devonta Freeman responded by catching a short pass over the middle and put on a JUKE move that left the defender searching for his undergarments as he darted down field for 53 yards.
INSERT Devonte interview
I asked Devonta what he saw during the 53-yard run that helped him make a move:
“It was a well-executed play called at the right time. Matt stood in the pocket and made a great play and I made a great catch. I knew I was going to beat the safety. I knew I had that juke.” Seattle being the championship caliber team added one more score and Atlanta added two.
The Falcons put up 422 yards of total offense. MVP candidate Matt Ryan threw for 338 yards connecting on 26-37 attempts with three touchdowns and a 125.7 passers rating. In his last five games, Ryan has been simply awesome on 157 passes he has been successful on 115 for 1469 yards with 14 touchdowns and most impressive zero interceptions and a 131.8 passer rating. I don’t know exactly what the passer rating means but to the fans in the ATL it has inspired the chant MVP, MVP, MVP.
Matt Ryan On how it felt when the Georgia Dome crowd chanted MVP again:
“Pretty cool. It was pretty cool considering the circumstances too with the game in hand. I appreciate our fans. They are the best and they were awesome today. I’ll tell you that. From the opening kickoff, the Dome was rocking. That’s got to be as loud as it’s ever been in here. It was a great environment to play in today.
Meanwhile, All Pro Seattle QB Russell Wilson was harassed with 3 sacks and one resulting in a safety. The defense also forced two turnovers in a stellar performance. Grady Jarrett told me a couple of weeks ago “the defense was hitting its stride at the right time.” As well as the offense played today I have to agree with Grady.
The Atlanta Falcons move on to the NFC Championship game to face the winner of the Dallas Cowboys vs Green Bay Packers.