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Matt Ryan has MVP-like day in Atlanta Falcons' win

By Dan Hanzus

Around the League Writer

Published: Sept. 30, 2012 at 04:51 p.m. Updated: Sept. 30, 2012 at 05:56 p.m.

It's too early to say if this is the season the Atlanta Falcons finally show up in the playoffs. But through four games, we're seeing signs this could be a different team.

On Sunday, the Falcons were backed up on their own 1-yard line and trailing by a point with 59 seconds to play when Matt Ryan dropped a perfect 59-yard strike into the hands of Roddy White.

How the Carolina Panthers' secondary let White get behind them in that situation is a total mystery, but give the Falcons credit. It was a big-time play that helped snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

The unlikely 30-28 win moves the Falcons to 4-0. You can argue the San Francisco 49ers are the class of the NFC -- especially after they lobotomized the New York Jets in Jersey -- but the Falcons deserve to be in the conversation. A playoff matchup between the two teams could come down to who's at home.

Much of the Falcons' praise goes back to Ryan (25-of-40 passing, 369 yards, three TDs, one INT), who's taking his Tom Brady impersonation to the next level this season. The throw to White tells you so much about him. He's physically gifted enough to drop it in the bucket from 65 yards away and cool enough to do it in his own end zone against a Panthers pass rush that battered him all afternoon.

If you're looking for an NFL MVP at the season's quarter pole, look no further than the Falcons' No. 2.

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