The numbers tell the story. Matt Ryan completed 31 of 43 passes for 448 passing yards Sunday as the Falcons beat the Saints 37-34 in overtime.
“I thought Matt May have played his best game as an Atlanta Falcon,” said head coach Mike Smith.
“It looked damn good to me,” said offensive lineman Justin Blalock.
It was a record-setting performance. The 448 yards were the most ever thrown by an Atlanta quarterback in one game. Ryan had eclipsed the 400-yard mark twice before in his career – last September 29 against the Patriots (421 yards) and November 11, 2012 against the Saints (411 yards).
“I thought he was very, very accurate. When you have almost 570 total yards offense and 448 yards through the air, your quarterback is playing well,” Smith said.
“I thought passing-wise, we did a great job,” Ryan admitted.” Obviously, we’ve got some weapons on the outside and that creates some good matchups for us. I felt we had a really good plan coming into the game. We have some talented guys on the outside and we took advantage of it.”
When Ryan threw his second touchdown pass Sunday he broke Steve Bartkowski’s record for most touchdown passes in Atlanta’s history. Ryan has now thrown 156 touchdowns as a Falcon.
“It’s a great honor,” Ryan said. “No one has more respect for Steve Bartkowski than I do and what he did for this organization. Bart’s become a great friend since I’ve been in Atlanta, a mentor, and he’s helped me. I’m very proud to be in great company. It’s a really great honor.”
But it wasn’t just through the air that Ryan helped his team Sunday. He made three runs for 15 yards, and that contribution was not lost on anyone.
“Matt’s not the most athletic quarterback out there, but he did a great job today,” said wide receiver Julio Jones. “He scrambled around and got a first down for us. That’s big for us.”
“I was really impressed with his ability to extend some plays today moving in the pocket and actually getting out and running the football. He was able to extend some plays,” Smith said.
“Sometimes you have to do that as a quarterback to extend plays – to make some things happen with your legs,” Ryan explained. “I was able to do that.”
The Falcons passing attack is obviously going to have to do exactly what it did Sunday – win games for the team. And as Ryan continues to get comfortable with his group of receivers, the newcomers and the returnees, the Falcons are going to be hard to stop.
“Matt’s very confident in everybody’s ability out there,” Jones said. “He’s just throwing the ball up there to us. When he finds that one-on-one matchup, he’s coming, the ball is coming. You’ve got to expect it.”
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and e-mail him at email@example.com.
Ryan has record-setting game against Saints
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