Atlanta Falcons – Matt Ryan is Finally a Playoffs Winner

It almost didn’t happen, and Matt Ryan would have gone on on to explain how the Atlanta managed to blow a win that was deep within their pocket. This isn’t the first time this season the NFC’s best team came away with an improbable win, and it seems the trends carries on into the postseason.

Entering the fourth quarter with a 27-7 lead, there was no one who actually thought of a scenario in which the Seattle Seahawks make some miraculous comeback. But Russell Wilson has been defying the odds all season, so what’s another quarter of doing it?

Wilson ran for a touchdown and threw a pass for another one as the Seahawks turned the bowl upside down, finiding themselves 28-27 up with 31 seconds left in the game. Stunned couldn’t even begin to describe the feeling inside the Georgia Dome and among the Falcons’ fans. Again, there is something special about the Falcons this season, and Matt Ryan, unlike his entire career so far, came through in flying colors.

First it was a 22 yard pass to Harry Douglas. Then it was his favorite target, Tony Gonzalez, right up the gut, for a 19 yard completion. There was still time on the clock, but the Falcons trusted Matt Bryant to come up with the play, and their defense to not blow it in the final 8 seconds. It turned out to be the right gamble. Maybe it wasn’t such a gamble, as Matt Bryant has made his last 10 field goal attempts of 49 yards or longer.

Nobody flinched. We just kept battling, kept doing what we do. That’s been the makeup of our team all season. When they scored their touchdown, I walked down the sideline. I told the offensive line, I told Matt, I told all the receivers that we’ve done this before.

According to some probability models, the Seahawks had a 1.4 percent chance of winning after Jason Snelling’s 5-yard touchdown reception gave Atlanta a 27-7 lead with 2:11 left in the third quarter. Once again, Russell Wilson and this Seattle Seahawks team is a special bunch, that nearly pulled off one of the most incredible fourth quarters in playoffs history. The Seahawks became the sixth team in the Super Bowl era to score 21 fourth-quarter points in a playoff loss, but they’re the only team in the Super Bowl era to score 21 fourth-quarter points in a playoff game to take the lead, only to lose the game.

But there was also a long stretch of the Falcons being dominant. Besides throwing two interceptions, Matt Ryan finished with 250 yards and three touchdowns, helped by some great running by Michael Turner, finished with 98 yards, giving Ryan the ability to execute the play-action very well. He was 8-of-12 for 87 yards and three touchdowns when using play action Sunday. That’s the second-most completions and the most touchdowns for Ryan on those plays in a game this season, and more than anything the Seahawks have seen in 2012.

Ryan was also very efficient on the deep ball, despite throwing a couple of interceptions. His average target depth was 12.1 yards, he highest single game rate of his career. His eight completions (8-16) were two fewer than his combined total in his previous three postseason games (10-27).

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