Matt Ryan has already changed how we view him as a quarterback. But win a Super Bowl and he can do more than that. Because if Ryan raises the Lombardi, he’ll have run the table against maybe the most formidable opponents ever — Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. Find me a more impressive kill sheet.
That’s a long way from the cat who threw 16 picks last year and blew a 5-0 start. The guy who came into the postseason having lost 4 of his first 5 playoff games, and blew a 10-point, second half, home lead the LAST TIME the Falcons had a chance to make it to the Super Bowl in 2012.
But the on-field strides Ryan has made this season have been incredible. He’s putting up numbers that are as good or better than the guys we consider elite. And he’s knocking studs off one by one this postseason — doing it with an insane stat-line this postseason that has him AVERAGING over 350 yards a game passing and contributing 8 touchdowns in two dominant wins.
Ryan’s ALWAYS been the guy out front, the leader that Falcons wanted when they took him No. 3 overall and bet on him to be their franchise quarterback. Be he’s been closer to Alex Smith than the guys he’s beat this postseason — good enough to get you close, but always there with a back-breaking mistake. He’s averaged nearly an interception a game for the last 4 seasons. He threw 7 picks and just 9 touchdowns in his 5 playoff games before this postseason.
This year? New man. 45 touchdowns, 7 interceptions and a chance to take down Belichick and Brady for Atlanta’s first Lombardi.
This season has already redefined how we view Ryan the quarterback. But one more win gives him not only a ring but arguably the best postseason ever. Then he’s a guy who not has a ring, but carried a team to it. And the Falcons get their first not in spite of him because of him.
But he still has to get through Belichick and that Patriots dee. And as everyone knows, you give the Hood two weeks to prepare, even for the league MVP, and it usually goes much better for him that it does the guy he’s scheming for.
Ryan’s already a guy who will never be seen the way he was prior to this season. But win this game, and he goes legend. Based on who he had to beat to do it.