Ryan, Griffin fresh off masterful comeback drives




Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and tight end Tony Gonzalez celebrate a 30-28 victory over the Carolina Panthers to remain undefeated at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday , Sept. 30, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and tight end Tony Gonzalez celebrate a 30-28 victory over the Carolina Panthers to remain undefeated at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday , Sept. 30, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

FLOWERY BRANCH — About the time that Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was working his late-game magic at the Georgia Dome on Sunday, some NFL drama was unfolding in Tampa.

Washington rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, in the last 1 minute, 42 seconds, drove his Redskins into field-goal position at Raymond James Stadium for a game-winning field goal, too.

For Ryan, it was the 17th time that he has led the Falcons to victory in the fourth quarter or overtime. For Griffin, the former Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor, it was his first dramatic win.

Ryan and Griffin, who rank first and second in the NFC in passer rating, will face off when the undefeated Falcons (4-0) face the Redskins (2-2) at 1 p.m. Sunday at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.

With the Falcons backed up at their 1-yard line, with no timeouts and 59 seconds left on the clock, Ryan remained calm — as he’s done in the past.

He tried to encourage his teammates in the huddle and set into motion a well-thought out plan that required great blocking and an acrobatic catch by wide receiver Roddy White on a 59-yard gain to keep the Falcons in business.

“You have to have the belief that regardless of how games shake out, if you keep it close, you have a chance to win,” Ryan said. “You can’t flinch.”

Ryan’s five-play, 77-yard drive set up Matt Bryant for a 40-yard field goal that carried the Falcons to a 30-28 victory.

Ryan is performing at a high level this season, as he has completed 102 of 147 pass attempts (69.4 percent) for 1,162 yards with 11 touchdowns and two interceptions for an NFL-best 112.1 passer rating.

“Matt is coming into his own,” said Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall, a former Falcon. “He looks like the guy [the Falcons] thought he would be all along. He’s playing at an MVP-caliber level right now.”

Ryan, who has the Falcons positioned nicely to reach 5-0 for the first time in franchise history, doesn’t want to make too much of his super start nor this early MVP talk.

“After four games, you can’t worry about those things,” Ryan said. “I don’t really worry about it too much ever really. The biggest thing for me is to play well every week and do what we need to do to get a win. Other than that, I try not to pay attention to it.”

Redskins rookie QB Robert Griffin III leads Washington on a drive that results in a game-winning field goal. (Getty Images)

Redskins rookie QB Robert Griffin III leads Washington on a drive that results in a game-winning field goal. (Getty Images)

The charismatic Griffin had to overcome some additional adversity against the Buccaneers. The communication system in his helmet stopped working on the Redskins’ final drive.

In just his fourth game in the NFL, he called his own plays while leading the Redskins 56 yards in six plays to get them into position for Billy Cundiff’s 41-yard game-winning field goal.

“It was kind of weird that it went out at that point in the game on the road, but … we had to make it work,” Griffin said. “[Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan] tried to signal things into me when he could. We made it work, and we went and won the game.”

Since the fifth game of his career, Ryan often has dragged the Falcons to victory with his heroics. In his first comeback win, he guided the Falcons to a 27-24 victory over the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Oct. 5, 2008.

The following week, he pulled out a game against Chicago with 11 seconds remaining.

“You can’t worry about what happened the first three and a half quarters of that game,” Ryan said. “You just have to go out there and execute when you have the opportunity to. That’s always the mindset that I’ve tried to take.”

The Redskins have hitched their wagon to Griffin after taking him with the second pick in the 2012 draft. They traded three first-round picks and a second-round pick to move up in the draft to get Griffin, an athletic blend of runner and passer.

“He’s been playing good,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. “He’s not handling himself like a rookie. He’s handling himself like a veteran. That’s quite unusual at the quarterback position.”

The Redskins like the early results.

“We are pleased with the way he’s played and how he’s handled himself,” Shanahan said. “He’s an extremely hard worker. He’s very professional, and he’s done everything that we’ve asked him to do.”

Much like what the Falcons did for Ryan when he was a rookie, the Redskins have tailored their offense to fit Griffin’s skills.

“You have to do what the quarterback likes and what he does well,” ESPN analyst Jon Gruden said. “You have to really accentuate those things. You’re going to see elements [of what he did at Baylor.] An occasional read-option, an occasional designed quarterback run because this kid is special with the ball in his hands.”

Clutch drivers

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has a way to go to climb the list of quarterbacks with the most comebacks on game-winning drives. Here’s a look at the this:

Player (seasons)+Total

1. Peyton Manning (1998-2012)+36

2. Dan Marino (1983-99)+36

3. John Elway (1983-98)+35

4. Joe Montana (1979-94)+31

5. Brett Favre (1991-2010)+30

5. Fran Tarkenton (1961-78)+30

Source: pro-football-reference.com

Not over till it’s over

Quarterback Matt Ryan has led the Falcons to victory in the fourth quarter or overtime 17 times.

Date Opponent Score

Oct. 5, 2008+Green Bay+27-24

Oct. 12, 2008+Chicago+22-20

Dec. 14, 2008+Tampa Bay*+13-10

Dec. 28, 2008+St. Louis+31-27

Oct. 18, 2009+Chicago+21-14

Dec. 20, 2009+N.Y. Jets+10-7

Jan. 3, 2010+Tampa Bay+20-10

Sept. 26, 2010+New Orleans*+27-24

Oct. 3, 2010+San Francisco+16-14

Oct. 24, 2010+Cincinnati+39-32

Nov. 11, 2010+Baltimore+26-21

Nov. 28, 2010+Green Bay+20-17

Dec. 5, 2010+Tampa Bay+28-24

Sept. 18, 2011+Philadelphia+35-31

Oct. 16, 2011+Carolina+31-17

Dec. 11, 2011+Carolina+31-23

Sept. 30, 2012+Carolina+30-28

*denotes game winning drive in overtime

 

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36 comments Add your comment

Elvis is Alive

October 4th, 2012
5:32 am

Elvis is Alive

October 4th, 2012
5:53 am

Ok..RG III is a talented QB. Having courage to play hard and playing to win is vital to win games.
I believe RG III has these qualities.Luck also plays a roll in winning games. Football is a team sport. One player can be the strong/ weak link in a game strategy. RG III is the Redskins link.
It is the remaining players on the their team that will truly determine the outcome.
Falcons are now the “Angry Birds” Falcons win 40-14….RISE UP ATLANTA ….RISE UP !!! .

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ParanoidAndroid

October 4th, 2012
7:09 am

Haha.. Ron Rivera must be having nightmares about Matty.

Cam Newton

October 4th, 2012
7:16 am

First! Me me me

Gerald

October 4th, 2012
7:25 am

Elvis Is Alive:

The Falcons will almost certainly win the game – the Falcons will go the Super Bowl the way things are looking – but if you think that the Falcons are going to hold the Redskins to 14 points, you aren’t being realistic. These aren’t the Chiefs, OK? The Redskins have only been held below 28 points once all year, their last game, and even in that game they missed 3 field goals. The Redskins will score. It is just that the Falcons will score more, and likely force some turnovers too.

atlfalconsfan0125

October 4th, 2012
7:43 am

Lets Go! 5-0!

Esquire

October 4th, 2012
8:07 am

Cam Newton

October 4th, 2012
7:16 am

First! Me me me
*******************************************
Meangelo, is that you?

Esquire

October 4th, 2012
8:15 am

Atlanta
Offense
PTS 31.0 (3rd) YDS 365.2 (15th) PASS YDS 267.5 (11th) RUSH YDS 97.8 (18th)

Defense
PTS 19.0 (8th) YDS 353.2 (15th) PASS YDS 207.0 (8th) RUSH YDS 146.2 (29th)

Redskins
Offense
PTS
30.8
(4th)
YDS
421.8
(3rd)
PASS YDS
250.8
(15th)
RUSH YDS
171.0
(2nd)

Defense
PTS
30.8
(27th)
YDS
415.2
(29th)
PASS YDS
326.2
(31st)
RUSH YDS
89.0
(10th)

Esquire

October 4th, 2012
8:17 am

Impressive offensive stats for the ‘Skins. Our run defense needs to shore up against Washington.

atlfalconsfan0125

October 4th, 2012
8:55 am

Our Defense will be tested. But so will theirs. Go Falcons! lets get to 5-0!

Answer This

October 4th, 2012
9:23 am

So it comes to this again! Another must win! Another up and coming QB who wants to beat us! We do what we do and that is RISE UP! Our D is hungry this weekend………watch and see! Look for the birds to have another big day in the air. Matty will make better decisions in the red zone and look for HD this time which will hurt the Skins secondary! Your turn Julio to come up BIG. They have rolled double coverage over to your side for the last two weeks and Roddy and TG have feasted! Now they going to roll back to Roddy and its your turn to eat……….catch the ball, I hope your hand is ok! Tony G., will be welll Tony G. still producing at a HIGH level! Turner will do enough to keep them honest. Our D will be tested again as this is what we expect week in and week out! But I sense a feeling of getting after RGIII this weekend. We see what that offense does and we know how to attack it now, can RGIII read as well as Cam did last week…….welcome to Week 5 Birds go getem!

Gerald

October 4th, 2012
9:29 am

Esquire:

Stopping the Redskins’ running game is pretty much impossible. Their OL isn’t that good (either interior or at the OTs) but they do that zone-blocking thing, and they have a good – although not exactly Terrell Davis caliber – RB for that scheme in Alfred Morris. But the main thing is that the Redskins have a dual threat QB who not only has world class speed (seriously, Griffin III had to choose between pursuing being an NFL QB and the Olympic track team) but is accurate on short and deep passes. (He isn’t that good at running an NFL offense or making complex reads yet … that will take him a couple of years.) So, defenses have to choose between A) letting Griffin III beat them deep, B) letting Griffin III dink and dunk them to death, C) letting Griffin III get into the open field with that sub 4.3 speed, or D) letting Alfred Morris, a 4.6 40 straight line guy, plod along between the tackles. D) is by far the easiest choice, or at least it will be until the Redskins get a more explosive runner. (Except that they don’t seem to make the Barry Sanders/Emmitt Smith type RBs anymore.)

So, the Redskins will run the ball, pass the ball and score. The good news is that the Redskins are young, not particularly good, and their defense, especially their pass defense, is terrible. So the Falcons should win.

Gerald

October 4th, 2012
9:48 am

Answer This:

Actually, RG3 is better than Cam right now. RG3 spent 4 years in a passing offense at Baylor and started for 3. Cam jumped around from the Tebow offense at Florida to a spread offense at JUCO to a run-heavy offense at Auburn, and only started 1 year at the major college level. Plus (by his own admission) Cam only started working hard when he went to JUCO, meaning that his years at Florida was a waste. RG3, a military brat and Olympic class sprinter, worked hard from day one. So, RG3 is better at making reads, better at short passes, better at spreading the ball around, more accurate, more poised, less mistake-prone etc.

So with Cam, if you take away his running ability or his deep passing ability, you basically shut him and the Panthers down (see the Tampa and Giants games). Or even if he gets going, you can shut the RBs down and force Cam into turnovers (see the Falcons games, plus several games last year where Cam put up big numbers but made a lot of mistakes). RG3 is much further along, and beating him will be a different task.

Samuel

October 4th, 2012
9:53 am

I think the Game between the Skins and Falcons will be a hard fought game. But in the end, I believe the defense will get enough turnovers to win this game. they’ll be hard pressed to keep up scoring wise.

DR. FALCON

October 4th, 2012
9:56 am

GOOD JOB, FOR THE ROOKIE! BUT, THIS AIN’T THE BUCS’, OR THE SAINTS! THE CINDERELLA STORY COMES TO AN END SUNDAY! AS FOR MATT RYAN, MVP OF THE LEAGUE, THIS YEAR! THANK GOD FOR DIRK KOETTER! FALCONS 34 REDSKINS 17!

DR. FALCON

October 4th, 2012
10:00 am

I’M STARTING TO WORRY ABOUT SEENTHISB4, & HIRAMSAINT, MY FELLOW FALCONS’ FANS! HAVE THEY LEFT THE COUNTRY? LOL!!! HIDE THE KNIVES! CAN WE SAY 0-5? CHARGERS 41 SAINTS 28! LOL!

North FLA Falcon

October 4th, 2012
10:14 am

If we can pound the ball and control the clock, we should make them play OUR game. Score early, have a few long drives, control the ball … keep RG3 off the field! Should be a good one. GO FALCONS

Michael M.

October 4th, 2012
10:15 am

I scan out over the horizon to the East………………….and I see the Rise up Nation and the Falcons at 5 – 0……………………………………………………………I look towards the West and I see dark and gloomy skies for the Caints at 0 – 5…………………….the Caints just cain’t win !……….hehehehe

North FLA Falcon

October 4th, 2012
10:23 am

D McFadden and the Raiders (next week) scare me more than the Skins … but hey what do I know…

Michael M.

October 4th, 2012
10:24 am

So sorry, I baited the trolls again……………………..

Falcons – 36 Skins – 27

just a troll

October 4th, 2012
10:26 am

its okay,hammer us cause we need it.

Mike is Back

October 4th, 2012
10:49 am

Dled, RG3 has been impressive…this will a good challenge for the BIRDS…The BIRDS have to stay on the ATTACK!!

Really like what I’m hearing from the ICE MAN…he has been phenomenal thus far…gotta keep it going.

RISE UP BIRDS…LETS GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Gerald

October 4th, 2012
12:34 pm

RG3 failed in comeback attempts against the Rams and Cleveland, though granted neither was his fault. Still, the Falcons ought to like the odds.

Trade 4 Tim Teabow

October 4th, 2012
1:15 pm

Im laffing at U guys that thing Rayan is elite. Hes not even on the list of comebacks lets not start about palyoff wins.

Falcons Chic

October 4th, 2012
1:18 pm

Just a note: NFL Films CLE 95 is the Belichick coaching tree, NOT WHAT HAPPENED in DC or Cleveland. BEFORE the NFL installed the uberFan into the HOF, my spouse found Big Dog for the Senate staff hearing. We marched on the Capitol. THAT kept the trophies and the name in Cleveland. NFL Films should rename this because there is less than 10 minutes of the pain that CLE suffered

Trade 4 Tim Teabow

October 4th, 2012
1:25 pm

@ Falcons chic

What?

Shouldt U be cooking are cleaning?

Esquire

October 4th, 2012
1:31 pm

Matt Ryan has been named the NFC Offensive Player of the Month for the month of September!

Trade 4 Tim Teabow

October 4th, 2012
1:36 pm

That vote was joke no way Rayan should be palyer of the mont

ctfalconsfan

October 4th, 2012
1:52 pm

Teebow? I wouldn’t trade Luke McCown or Dominique Davis for Timmy Teebow.

If Teebow wants to make it in this league he needs to learn how to long snap..

North FLA Falcon

October 4th, 2012
2:19 pm

So “Trade 4″ who would you recommend for NFC offensive player of the month??

Whadda Ya Know?

October 4th, 2012
2:23 pm

Cam…Meow you lost when you were prematurely celebrating on the sidelines. Meow!

Whadda Ya Know?

October 4th, 2012
2:25 pm

We need to confuse RG3 as much as possible and STOP the running game for God sakes. Sacks, turnovers, separate their receivers from the ball, I want it all come Sunday because I will be in the stands representing the Falcons in DC. Rise Up Falcons!!!

Jst Askn

October 4th, 2012
2:38 pm

@ Trade 4 Tim Teabow: I’m LAUGHING that you can’t spell laughing…HAHA

Tony R

October 4th, 2012
4:28 pm

Redskins fan here. I have to say that I am impressed with the comments that Falcons’ fans have made regarding the upcoming game. Not only do the comments give the Skins credit where it is due, they are actually supported and not just slurs like comments from the fans of so many other teams the Skins face. There are two games on the Skins’ schedule with which I am most concerned; this is one of them and our game with the Ravens is the other. I do think our defense is going to step it up this game and our offense will continue to flourish just as the Falcons’ offense. I believe the Skins will give the Falcons a game just as they did against the Saints and surprise everyone. 30+ points for each side. It will definitely be a great game!