Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 12/17/12
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. For Matt Ryan, it was a rare admission. Ryan, whose interview sessions with the media are an effort in self-imposed verbal straight-jacketing in order to divulge as little information as possible, often serves up such platitudes as the next game being the most important and, in response to what it needs to correct, he will say the Falcons simply need to execute better. So when the quarterback said following the Falcons 34-0 win over the New York Giants on Sunday that last years 24-2 loss to the Giants in the playoffs motivated him, it represented a temporary unveiling of the curtain. I think for certain guys it does, he said. I think for guys that were around here last year, falling short up there last year provides some sort of motivation and, if guys fed off that, we need more of that moving forward. Then he was asked specifically about himself. For me personally, a little bit. You know, I think more so -- rather it being a team, the way it ended last year, thats kind of difficult. Let it be noted that in that victory, Ryan registered the second-best quarterback rating of his career, 142.6, while the two-time Super Bowl winner on the opposite side of the field from him, Eli Manning, posted a mark of 38.9, Mannings worst in five seasons. Ryans only other higher-rated game came last season against Tampa Bay, the 10th straight loss by the disintegrating Buccaneers. Arguably, then, by completing 23-of-28 passes (82 percent) for 270 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions against a defense the caliber of the Giants, Ryan had the best game of his career. Ryan already is having the best season of his career, as his 97.5 rating is more than five points better than his previous best and ranks seventh in the NFL among quarterbacks with at least 200 pass attempts. Furthermore, Sundays performance indicates that he has emerged from something of a mini-slump. In his four previous games, he had one with five interceptions, one in which he threw for only 165 yards and in last weeks embarrassing 30-20 loss to Carolina he had thrown for only 40 yards at halftime. Earlier this season, Ryan was touted as an MVP candidate. While bigger names namely Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson are garnering bigger headlines, Ryan would merit consideration if his team finishes with the best record in the league. (Currently, the Falcons and Houston are tied at 12-2.) Falcons head coach Mike Smith said he thought the game was one of Ryans best as a pro, but refused to be drawn into the MVP debate on Monday. Again, thats for you guys to talk about, he said. In my mind, Matt is having a great year for us and theres a lot of things that dont show up on a stat sheet that hes doing very well for our football team. Among the reasons for Ryans success on Sunday was a game plan that neutralized the strength that has helped the Giants to win two Super Bowls in the last five seasons: their pass rush. Smith said it was the Falcons No. 1 offensive must to neutralize the Giants defensive line. For the game, the Giants had only one sack. To keep the Giants defensive line from being able to concentrate solely on moving upfield vertically, the Falcons kept them at bay laterally with end arounds, plenty of action in the backfield on running plays and also a healthy dose of screens and draw plays. I thought our offensive staff did a great job in terms of putting a game plan together in terms of neutralizing the defensive line, Smith said. ... I thought our offensive line did a very good job winning their one-on-one battles, but we did some things formationally and in terms of how we put plays together that I think helped us, as well. It was an outstanding effort by our offensive line yesterday. Compared to last Januarys playoff meeting against the Giants when the defensive line harassed Ryan throughout the game, the Falcons were vastly improved in pass-protection on Sunday, as Smith said. That allowed Ryan time and his 40-yard touchdown throw to Julio Jones in the third quarter was evidence of that. The Giants had ruled out two key defensive backs prior to the start of the game, including starting cornerback Prince Amukamara. During the game, Amukamaras replacement Jayron Hosley missed some plays because of injury and the Giants had to reach farther into their depth chart.Ryan said the fact that he had time allowed the offense to attack the Giants depleted secondary, which is not a strength to begin with. Absolutely, he said on Sunday. I feel like we have two guys on the outside (Roddy White and Jones) that are as good as anybody in this league. We have to feel confident any time we get those guys in one-on-one matchups and we talked about it all week being important to negotiate their front four and having time to be able to take advantage of those one-on-one matchups and a lot of credit has to go to our offensive line for getting that done today. Its true that without the offensive lines performance, Ryan would have, like last January, had a harder time. But given the opportunity, he came through with possibly the best game in his five NFL seasons.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: Russell Westbrook posterizes DeMarcus Cousins to seal win

Tampa Bay Lightning trade star goaltender Ben Bishop to the LA Kings in surprise deal

Divac makes bold promise after trading DeMarcus Cousins

Popovich praises Magic, wishes him well with Lakers

Report: Andrew Bogut likely to join Cavs after buyout

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Broncos expected to 'at least discuss' Romo

Report: Raiders don't expect to keep Latavius Murray

Report: Josh Hamilton needs another knee operation

Ball's father says comment about Lakers was misquoted

Revis hints he is open to taking significant pay cut

Several NBA executives have concerns about Lonzo Ball’s father

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Box Score 2/24: A night of NBA disrespect

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher who has recorded 10 or more shutouts in a single season

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker