Falcon’s Ryan searching for title


Atlanta’s Matt Ryan has all the physical tools and mental acumen to become an elite NFL quarterback.

The one thing Ryan, who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 217 pounds, doesn’t have is a Super Bowl ring, but that may come in time.

Last Sunday at the Georgia Dome, Ryan helped pace the Falcons to a come from behind 33-32 victory over the Green Bay Packers.

The clincher was Ryan’s 11-yard bullet to wide receiver Mohamed Sanu (84 yards on nine receptions) with 31 seconds left.

“We made the plays at the end of the game when we had to,’’ said Ryan, who played at Boston College and was the No. 3 overall selection in the 2008 draft. “You know Aaron Rodgers is going to try and find a way to score.’’

Rodgers, a one-time Super Bowl champ, hoped to move down field and position Mason Crosby into field goal position.

The Falcons (5-3) are the highest scoring team in the NFL in part because of Ryan, who hit 28 of 35 for 288 yards.

Ryan, selected to three Pro Bowls, holds the league record of having passed for 200 yards or more in 47 straight games.

When Ryan found wide receiver Taylor Gabriel (68 yards on three catches) with a 47-yard aerial and 4:28 left in the first quarter, the Falcons moved ahead 10-7.

Atlanta cut Green Bay’s lead to 21-19 when Ryan, who led the Eagles to three bowl wins and a 25-7 record as a three-year starter, hit running back Devonta Freeman (35 yards on 11 carries and 23 yards on four receptions) with a five-yard bullet as 27 seconds remained before the break.

Ryan positioned the Falcons (367 total net yards) into field goal position as Matt Bryant drilled a 36-yarder with 9:41 left in the opening quarter to make it 3-0.

Rodgers (28 of 38 for 246 yards) responded with a 75-yard drive that he capped with a five-yard strike to wide receiver Jordy Nelson (94 yards on four catches) and 6:08 left in the opening period for a 7-3 edge.

Green Bay (4-3) pulled in front 14-10 with 11:53 left in the second quarter when Rodgers marched his team 75 yards on 11 plays and hit wide receiver Geronimo Allison (21 yards on two catches) with a four-yard pass.

Bryant’s 40-yarder with 8:52 on the clock in the same quarter shaved the lead to 14-13, but an eight-yard toss from Rodgers to wide receiver Trevor Davis and 4:22 remaining gave Green Bay (331 total yards) a 21-13 lead.

Davis (24 yards on three receptions) set up the tally with a 55-yard punt return.

Crosby’s 29-yard field goal with no time left supplied the Packers with a 24-19 lead at the half.

After Freeman crossed the goal line from one yard out and 3:31 left in the third period, Atlanta darted ahead 26-24.

Rodgers rallied his troops on a 13-play, 86-yard march that was climaxed with his seven-yard offering to wide receiver Jeff Janis (30 yards on four catches) and 3:58 showing in the fourth quarter.

It became 32-26 when Rodgers (game-best 60 yards on 10 carries) ran in the two-point conversion.

Rick Assad has written about sports for the Pasadena Star-News and Los Angeles Times. Contact him at richsports5@sbcglobal.net.

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