ATLANTA - DECEMBER 27: Quarterback Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons waits to re-enter the field against the Buffalo Bills at Georgia Dome on December 27, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
The Carolina Panthers may be out of the playoff hunt, but they have plenty to motivate them against the Atlanta Falcons this weekend. The Falcons are a far superior team, but they needed a miraculous comeback to beat the Panthers in Week 4. After leading the improbable come-from-behind victory, Matt Ryan apparently was not friendly to his division rival.
Several Carolina players say they have had Sunday’s game circled on their calendars because of the nasty things Ryan said after their first meeting.
“I can’t repeat it to you. That’s how bad it was,” cornerback Captain Munnerlyn told reporters, via the Charlotte Observer. “He totally disrespected us. They won the game. They came all the way back and beat us. But to say what he said, I don’t think it was called for. He could have handled it a different way. But he said it. … He said some harsh words. So it’s going to be a fight out there.”
As Pro Football Talk mentioned, Ryan was caught by television camera’s saying, “Get the f*** off our field!” after his team’s Week 4 win. It’s quite possible it was that statement that rubbed the Panthers the wrong way, and that is likely what has led to defensive end Greg Hardy wanting to embarrass Atlanta.
“I’m really not a fan of the team down the street,” Hardy said. “I’m trying to mess up their whole playoff experience. I want them to go home sick in the stomach, mad about life, a couple depression issues, all types of things. It’s going to be a long day from my point of view. I’m coming.”
It sounds like the 3-9 Panthers are not in search of any added motivation this week. The Falcons have already wrapped up the NFC South and are simply playing for playoff seeding, so it may be difficult for them to match Carolina’s intensity. That being said, there’s no question about which team has the edge in talent.