Entries in Matt Ryan (45)


RB Steven Jackson Released by Falcons

Leon Halip/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Atlanta Falcons released the NFL's active leader in rushing yards (11,388) running back Steven Jackson on Thursday.

The 31-year-old Jackson still had one year left on the three-year contract he signed with the team. The move saves the Falcons $3.75 million against the salary cap.

The 6-foot-2, 240-pound Jackson originally was selected with the 24th overall pick of the 2004 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams. He played nine seasons in St. Louis before playing the last two in Atlanta. During that time he's carried the ball 2,743 times, averaging 4.2 yards per touch while scoring 68 touchdowns. He also caught 460 balls for 3,663 yards and nine touchdowns. Jackson had 190 carries for 707 yards and six touchdowns last season.

With Jackson gone, the Falcons are left with youngster Devonta Freeman as their only signed running back. Jacquizz Rodgers and Antone Smith are about to become free agents.

The Falcons ranked 24th in the NFL with 93.6 rushing yards per game last season.

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Panthers Crush Falcons to Win NFC South

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- Tre Boston and Roman Harper both had pick-6s, and Cam Newton ran and threw for a touchdown as the Carolina Panthers humiliated the Atlanta Falcons 34-3 Sunday to win the NFC South.

The Panthers (7-8-1) become the first team since 2010 to make the playoffs with a losing record.

"The beautiful thing -- record doesn't matter," Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said. "That's the best part."

The Panthers hurried Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan throughout the game, pressuring him on 21 of his passes and sacking him six times.

The Falcons (6-10) would have made the playoffs with a win but couldn't get anything going offensively.  Star receiver Julio Jones only had four catches for 58 yards.

Carolina returns to the playoffs for the second straight season and improves its record in December to 15-3 under coach Rivera.

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Falcons Sweep Saints; Set Up NFC South Title Bout with Panthers

Leon Halip/Getty Images(NEW ORLEANS, La) -- With the season sweep of the New Orleans Saints, the Atlanta Falcons guaranteed that the winner of the NFC South will have a losing record.

The Falcons defeated the Saints 30-14 Sunday, giving both teams a 6-9 record on the season.

Matt Ryan led the Atlanta charge, completing 30 of 40 passes for 322 yards and one touchdown pass to Eric Weems. 

Julio Jones returned from injury and looked in fine form, as he caught seven passes for 107 yards.

Drew Brees and the Saints offense continued their season-long inconsistencies. Jimmy Graham fumbled on the Falcons' 1-yard line in the fourth quarter, and Drew Brees threw two interceptions, including one to Robert McClain that set up an Atlanta field goal.

The Falcons will host the Carolina Panthers (6-8-1) next week in Atlanta, with the winner earning the NFC South crown. 

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Drew Brees on Big Game Against Falcons: 'Is What You Hoped For'

Chris Graythen/Getty Images(NEW ORLEANS) -- Saints quarterback Drew Brees understands the importance of Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons (5-9), who sit one game behind them in the NFC South.

New Orleans is clinging onto a half-game lead over the Panthers (5-8-1) in the division as well.

"This at the beginning of the season is what you hoped for, the opportunity to be playing for something significant this time of the year," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said on Wednesday.  "That’s what we have the chance to do. It’s against a very good divisional opponent. I know the fans enjoy this rivalry. It doesn’t get any better than this."

The Saints hold a 47-43 all-time lead on the Falcons.

"You try not to make it bigger than it is," Brees said of the big game. "Obviously we know what’s at stake here, but I also think whenever you see this game on the schedule you know what type of game it’s going to be, so it doesn’t sneak up on you. They’re a very good football team. They’re playing very well right now. We know what’s at stake. Home game, we want to re-establish ourselves at home. Also we want to get better. We want to get a little better this week."

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has tossed 27 touchdowns and thrown for 4,112 yards this year.

"I think he’s got great command of the offense," Brees said of his counterpart.  "I think he’s extremely intelligent. I think he’s tough. He can make all the throws. I don’t really see him getting rattled. I think he’s a really calm, composed guy."

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Matt Ryan Says Falcons Know 'What Time of the Year It Is'

Leon Halip/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- The Atlanta Falcons can keep their playoff hopes alive on Sunday when they take on the NFC South leading New Orleans Saints.

The Falcons are 2-4 on the road this year, and they sit one game behind the Saints in the division.

Quarterback Matt Ryan has faith that his team will be up for the game.

"Everybody understands the situation," Ryan said on Wednesday.

"Everybody understands what time of the year it is, where we're at," he continued. "I think [head coach Mike Smith] has done a great job of setting the schedule up to have everybody as fresh and prepared as we can possibly be."

Ryan and the Atlanta offense are averaging 24.9 points this year, while the Saints defense is giving up 26.7.

"It comes down to hitting [receivers] when you have the opportunity," Ryan said.  It's about making the play when they present themselves.  We've got to make sure we understand our plan and that when things come open, we nail it."

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Monday Night Football Preview

Tom Lynn /Getty Images(GREEN BAY, Wisc.) -- The Green Bay Packers will host the Atlanta Falcons on Monday in a battle of two first place teams.

Green Bay is coming off an impressive 26-21 win over the Patriots last Sunday and quarterback Aaron Rodgers knows how critical winning in the final stretch of the season is.

"We have some big goals, and we're getting into December football now with a chance with everything right in front of us," Rodgers said.

Rodgers has completed 66.3 percent of his passes and has thrown 32 touchdowns this year..

"No disrespect to any quarterback in the NFL, but right now he's at a level that much higher than anybody else," Falcons head coach Mike Smith said this week.  "I don't know that there's been a quarterback that's had a stretch like he's had in the history of the NFL." 

The Falcons have won their last three out of four games, but are 2-4 on the road this year.

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Falcons Top Panthers to Move Into Tie for First in NFC South

Leon Halip/Getty Images(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- Matt Bryant booted four field goals, the last one a 44-yarder with 2:08 left in the game, to put Atlanta up for good and lead the Falcons to a 19-17 win over the Carolina Panthers Sunday.

The win, coupled with a New Orleans loss, puts Atlanta (4-6) in a tie for first place in the NFC South.

"It's been a different year, for sure," said Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan who threw for 268 yards and a touchdown in the win. "You play to be relevant in November and December. As quirky as this season's been, we're relevant."

Carolina (3-7-1) had a chance to take the lead twice with less than two minutes to play, but kicker Graham Gano hooked a 46-yard field goal wide left and had a 63-yard attempt blocked as time expired.

"I have to pull through and make the kick," Gano said. "That's what it comes down to. No excuses. I'm not going to sit here and explain why I missed the kick. My job is to put it through the uprights."

Roddy White had eight catches for 75 yards and a touchdown for the Falcons, which will host the Cleveland Browns (6-4) next Sunday.

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Falcons Collapse in London, Lose to Lions 22-21

Leon Halip/Getty Images(LONDON) -- The Atlanta Falcons led at halftime over the Lions 21-0. When they looked up at the clock as the game was over, the score favored Detroit 22-21.

The Falcons suffered a defensive breakdown with 4:38 to go in the third quarter as Golden Tate ran past two Atlanta defenders and caught a 59-yard bomb from Matt Stafford, closing Atlanta's early lead to 21-10.

On the ensuing drive, with pressure in his face quarterback Matt Ryan threw a terrible interception to Lions cornerback Cassius Vaughn. 

"In my mind, that kind of cost us the ball game," Ryan said. "I was trying to throw the ball away and I never saw him."

The Falcons defense remained stought and held the Lions to a field goal. The Lions would score another touchdown in the fourth quarter when Matt Stafford found Theo Riddick on a five yard completion. The score was now 21-19 after Detroit missed a two point attempt to tie the game.

The Falcons would try to run the clock out with a poorly executed drive. With less than two minutes to go the Falcons committed a holding penalty that would stop the clock at 1:55.  On the next play, Matt Ryan attempted a screen to Julio Jones, who dropped the ball.  Atlanta would punt the ball inside Detroit's ten yard line.

Detroit would march down the field with little resistance.  Settling at Atlanta's 25 yard line, Detroit lined up for a field goal and newly signed kick Matt Prater pushed the ball wide right.  Atlanta ran on the field in celebration only to find out a whistle had blown. The Lions were called for a delay of game penalty: the kick was negated.  Prater got a second chance and drilled it through the uprights.

"That's football. He missed it and there was a delay of game penalty," Mike Smith, Falcons head coach said after the loss. "Thought we were going to squeak one out. Obviously we didn't."

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Joe Flacco: Still Have to Put the Work In

Rob Carr/Getty Images(BALTIMORE) -- The Baltimore Ravens will have the spotlight to themselves after the Orioles were knocked out of the ALCS by the Royals on Wednesday.

Fresh off throwing five touchdown passes, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is making sure his team does everything they can to prepare the right way after blowing out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday.

Flacco said the biggest challenge the team will face after an easy win is "coming in here and reminding yourself and everybody to put the work in. I think that comes naturally for us, it's something we're good at doing, once you get out there on Sunday everything takes care of itself."

Concerning Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, Flacco said: "We were in the same class. As long as you're still talking about us, we're somewhat relevant, so I guess that's a good thing.  It's nice to see that we are still relevant."

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh knows the Falcons will be hungry for a win after losing three in a row.

"Atlanta's good. They're going to be on turf, so they're going to be fast," Harbaugh said. "They've got big, fast receivers. They've got fast running backs, and they got a quarterback that drives the whole thing. That's an explosive football team, and we've got to be ready for them."

The Ravens will host the Atlanta Falcons, who are 0-3 on the road this season.

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Falcons Prepare for Vikings

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- The Atlanta Falcons will travel to Minnesota to take on the Vikings on Sunday.

Minnesota will be sending out rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater for his first career start after veteran Matt Cassel was injured last weekend and ruled out for the remainder of the season.

"It's a lifelong dream to play and start in this league," Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said of Bridgewater making his first start.  "It's a really special day; it's one that you'll never forget.  I think Teddy will do a great job."

Falcons head coach Mike Smith knows that facing a rookie quarterback will be tough for his defense.

"We've got a challenge in my mind with an athletic quarterback to be able to keep him in the pocket," Smith said after Monday's practice.

"He is very athletic. ... He was able to make some plays with his feet. That's another dynamic. ... I think you'll see they want to put the ball in his hands and give him some run-pass options. That's one of his strengths, the ability to extend plays, and he did a great job as a college quarterback extending plays. We'll have to do some different things in preparing for him, in regards to pass rush and pass-rush lanes."

Atlanta is averaging 34.3 points per game this season and Ryan went 21 of 24 and threw three touchdowns in their 56-14 rout of the Rams last Thursday.

"They've got a lot of weapons," Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said.  "We're going to have to do a great job of being in the right place.  We have to make sure we're in the right position of coverage all day."

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