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Bye week better after win for Matt Ryan-per AJC


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Bye week better after win for Matt Ryan

Falcons rookie quarterback tries to stay consistent, humble


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Monday, October 13, 2008

Flowery Branch — Matt Ryan slept in Monday.

Normally, the Falcons rookie quarterback would have been up early and at team headquarters reviewing film and getting ready for the next opponent.

“I just got into the facility and I’m going to try to knock (film review) out this afternoon,” Ryan said.

However it’s a bye week. Oh, and Ryan led the Falcons to a dramatic 22-20 win over Chicago Sunday. No one is going to call Ryan a slacker for catching up on his rest.

His family was in town for the game and they celebrated by watching their beloved Philadelphia Phillies get beat by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the baseball playoffs Sunday night.

“Mom, dad, brothers and sisters were all down for the game,” Ryan said. “I kind of spent the morning with them, had some breakfast and just kind of hung out.”

On Sunday, the Bears closed down the Falcons rushing attack and dared Ryan to beat them passing the football. Ryan, the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s NFL draft, came through with 301 yards passing and a touchdown.

His last pass, a 26-yard completion to wide receiver Michael Jenkins on a deep corner route set up the game-winning field goal with one second left.

Ryan has had some time to reflect on how the Falcons pulled out the improbable victory to improve to 4-2.

The Falcons victory marked only the third time since the NFL merger in 1970 that a team has won a game after losing the lead with less than 15 seconds remaining.

“We did it in dramatic fashion,” Ryan said. “There were a couple of clutch plays at the end of the game and a great kick by Jason (Elam). It was a really good win for us.”

The victory matched the Falcons’ win total from last season (4-12) and was a defining moment for Ryan’s early career. Several rookie quarterbacks have struggled as starters in their first year.

Indianapolis’ Peyton Manning was 3-13 in 1998. While Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger went 14-1 (including the playoffs) in 2004 with a veteran team.

Before Roethlisberger, the rookie standard was set by Dan Marino, who went 7-2 as a starter after taking over from David Woodley in week six of the 1983 season.

Ryan is trying to take an even-keeled approach to his early rookie season success.

“I think for me, it’s just been about just trying to stay consistent,” Ryan said. “Not to really get blown away by anything or carried away with anything.”

He took note of Falcons safety Lawyer Milloy comparing him to New England’s Tom Brady to a group of reporters after the game.

“I’m trying not to pay too much attention to that stuff,” Ryan said. “I’m just trying to do my best and work as hard as I possibly can. I just want to keep getting better and help this team win. Lawyer has done a great job as well. It’s been a good start.”

In previous games — Tampa Bay and Carolina — where the Falcons’ running game was stopped, Ryan was not able to pass the team to victory. Tampa Bay had him under duress and confused. He looked better against Carolina, but was victimized by six dropped passes.

Ryan knows that the running game is his best friend.

“That’s what we are going to have to do against good teams,” Ryan said. “We are going to continue to be patient with the run game and find another way to win. Yesterday, it was making some plays through the air.”

Ryan knows that a portion of the bye week will be spent on tinkering with their red zone offense. The Falcons have scored eight touchdowns on 20 trips inside the opponents’ 20-yard line (40 percent), which ranks 28th out of 32 teams.

High scoring teams convert at a 64 percent rate or higher inside the red zone.

“We’ve had situations and opportunities to make some plays down there,” Ryan said. “To get touchdowns we need to be more efficient. We can’t have penalties. We can’t make mistakes when we are down there.”

The Falcons will practice on Wednesday and Thursday before a long weekend.

Ryan has his itinerary set.

“Most of all, this week I’m going to try and relax and get some rest,” Ryan said. “I’m going to try to recuperate for the rest of the year. But this weekend I’ll definitely be heading out to watch (Boston College) play Virginia Tech.”

After the bye week, the Falcons play at Philadelphia, Ryan’s hometown.

“I will be excited to get home and play in Philadelphia,” Ryan said. “It’s obviously where I grew up. I’ve got a lot of family back there. It’s going to be fun to go back and see a bunch of people, and also play a really good football team.”

sorry if already posted. :(

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