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Ravens vs. Falcons: Matt Ryan Outduels Joe Flacco in Final Seconds

Nov 11, 2010 – 11:46 PM
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Ray Glier

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Jason SnellingATLANTA -- Matty Ice is what they call Matt Ryan in the Atlanta locker room. The Atlanta quarterback, a third-year pro, was all calm in the last minute here Thursday night. He threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Roddy White with 20 seconds to play to lift Atlanta to a 26-21 victory.

Baltimore's Joe Flacco threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Todd Heap with 1:05 left to give the Ravens a 21-20 lead, but Ryan took the Falcons 80 yards in 45 seconds for the winning score. He rolled left against a blitz and passed to White down the sideline. Ravens cornerback Josh Wilson appeared to be pushed by White, fell down and screamed for a pass interference penalty on what figures to be a controversial topic of conversation on Friday.

The Falcons improved to 7-2 and have gained a bundle of respect in the NFL. The Ravens go to 6-3.

A few thoughts on the game:

• Ryan is 18-1 as the starter for Atlanta in the Georgia Dome. White, who was questionable with a sore knee before the game, caught 12 passes.

• The Ravens started their last possession of the game, down 20-14, on their 28-yard line. They would have started on the 10-yard line, but the Falcons had to punt again because a coverage man ran out of bounds coming down the field without being touched. That is an illegal procedure penalty. On the re-kick, the Ravens had the ball at the 28.
• The Ravens moved right down the field for a go-ahead touchdown with 1:05 to play. It was second down from the 9-yard line when Atlanta dropped eight into coverage. Somehow, Heap was wide open in the middle of the field and in the end zone for a touchdown.

• The Ravens trailed 20-7 when Flacco finally found his groove. He was 9 of 18 for just 61 yards through three quarters. He then hit 6 of 7 passes, including a six-yard touchdown pass to Derrick Mason to cut Atlanta's lead to 20-14.

• Every Wednesday in practice, the Falcons go to their two-minute at the start of the practice. Ryan had only one timeout.

• He knew how to handle the pressure. Down 21-20, Ryan faced third-and-10 from the Atlanta 20 when he threw a 24-yard corner route to Michael Jenkins for a first down. He kept moving his team down the field

• The Falcons do not need time to warm up. They work fast, get things done. They get on top so they can establish Michael Turner and the run game.

• Atlanta got on top in the second quarter when the Ravens refused to play base defense and kept dialing blitzes to get to Ryan. They dialed one too many in their impatience in the second quarter of a scoreless game. Baltimore tried to get a runner at Ryan off the Falcons' right side and Jason Snelling slipped outside into a wide open expanse of field. He took the short pass, road-graded safety Dawan Landry, and scored a touchdown on a 28-yard play.

• Of the Falcons four scoring drives, three were 10 plays or more. When the Falcons went ahead 20-7 with 11:34 left in the game, they had converted 11 of 18 third down plays (61 percent).

• They would not let the Ravens get their fair chance with the ball.

• The reason for the Ravens' impatience? Atlanta was 6 of 8 on third down at one point in the second period. Ray Lewis, the Ravens' leader at linebacker, plowed Ryan, but just after Ryan delivered a 14-yard pass to Tony Gonzalez. It was a third-down play turned into a first down.

• There was an interesting timeout with 4:15 left in the second quarter. The Falcons came to the line with third-and-five at the Baltimore 38-yard line. The Ravens suddenly called time and Falcons' receiver Michael Jenkins slapped his hands together hard in disgust.

• Did the Falcons have the Ravens' pressure figured out? Did they see six or seven coming and was Jenkins the hot receiver with a big play in mind?

• The Falcons' front is aggressive and tries to get up the field, particularly defensive end John Abraham. He will gamble and duck inside to try and get a rush on the quarterback. That's his job. Philadelphia took advantage of Atlanta's aggression when the Eagles beat the Falcons on Oct. 17. Baltimore did it here Thursday night.

• Early, the Ravens tried draw plays with running back Ray Rice, who made two nice gains. In the third period, on their way to a touchdown drive, Donte' Stallworth came around the right side on a 19-yard run on a reverse. That took the ball to the Atlanta 16 and the Ravens scored four plays later.

• The Falcons led 13-7 in the fourth quarter when the Falcons seemed to have a drive stopped on third down at the Baltimore 17. But Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs was called for a facemask. It was a bizarre call when the replay showed Suggs' face mask being grabbed. The Falcons got a first down at the Baltimore 13-yard line and scored three plays later.

• When Ryan threw the four-yard touchdown pass to White in the fourth quarter that put the Falcons ahead 20-7, it was Ryan's 28th completion, which tied a career high for completions in a game.

• In the first half, the Falcons ran 42 plays. The Ravens ran 17 plays. Atlanta dictated in the first half with its quick passing game and Baltimore could not get the Falcons off the field on third down.

• Baltimore almost lost Reed with 37 seconds left in the first half after he tried to dive over the top of a sliding Ryan. Reed's left ankle was caught under Ryan and the Ravens' safety kept trying to walk around and keep the foot loose. Reed has been injured frequently. He started the season on the physically unable to perform list with a hip injury.

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