The Atlanta Falcons nearly spoiled the San Francisco 49ers farewell game at Candlestick Park on Monday night by giving the Niners quite a scare, and that was thanks to some excellent passing from Matt Ryan, who finally has a fully healthy Roddy White to throw it to. The pair worked to a devastating effect, as Ryan threw for 348 yards and completed an excellent 77.1% of his passes. He’s the main reason why the Falcons kept it to 34-24, and they would have won had Harry Douglas not had a sure catch wrestled away from him by Tramaine Brock, which led to NaVorro Bowman’s memorable pick six.
Ryan has been terrific this season, and he continues to be one of the game’s best quarterbacks. There is no doubting his talent, and it’s incredible to think how good this Falcons team would be if they had a better offensive line in front of him (Sam Baker’s injury definitely didn’t help the cause). Players went down all around him, but Ryan (and, to a lesser extent, Tony Gonzalez) was a clear constant that the Falcons could rely on.
With 279 passing yards this week against the Carolina Panthers, Matt Ryan will break Steve Bartkowski’s record for the most career passing yards in Falcons franchise history. It would be a fitting end to a season filled with adversity for Ryan, and there’s little doubt that “Matty Ice” is the best quarterback that this franchise has seen. Bartkowski was a great one, but Ryan has better numbers across the board. Plus, he already has three more game-winning drives than Bartkowski and averages nearly 60 more yards per game than Bartkowski did.
So far this season, Ryan has completed a very impressive 67.3% of his passes and is undoubtedly one of the most accurate QBs in the NFL. He also has averaged 282.3 passing yards per game, but the Panthers definitely aren’t an easy team to throw it against; they’ve only given up more than 279 passing yards on five occasions. When the Falcons faced the Panthers earlier this season, Ryan was held to 211 passing yards, so he has his work cut out for him.
But Ryan has had an incredible season and the Falcons passing attack seems to be finally hitting its stride, thanks to a healthy Roddy White. The San Francisco 49ers pass defense is even better than the Panthers pass D, so there’s plenty of hope that Ryan can cap off the 2013 season by beating Bartkowsi’s record, taking 29 less games to achieve the feat of over 23,470 passing yards.
It’s just one more reason to watch this NFC South battle.