We're taking a look at the 5 most memorable Matt Ryan led fourth quarter comebacks. Today, we finish with the #1 comeback.
January 13th 2013 at The Georgia Dome
Divisional Round Playoff Game
Relive the highlights here.
In the week leading up to this game, Falcons fans were made sick by the constant talk of "0 - 3" in referring to Matt Ryan's playoff record. In fact, the media had a field day reminding us that Russell Wilson had more playoff wins than Matt Ryan. Additionally, the talk also centered around the fact that Tony Gonzalez had never won a playoff game in his lengthy Hall of Fame career. As you can imagine, the pressure on the Falcons - and in particular, Matt Ryan and Mike Smith - was as high as it gets.
Seattle came into this game a little banged up and having just traveled from the West Coast to East Coast the week before. The Falcons, on the other hand, came into the game with a week of extra rest - though John Abraham was still not 100% from an ankle injury suffered in the last game of the regular season (withholding words of rage here).
As for the game, it started about as well as any Falcons fan could ask for. Minus an early interception that netted no points for the Seahawks, the Falcons mostly had their way on offense. In fact, the Falcons would roar to a 20-0 lead going into halftime.
In the third quarter, the Seahawks would finally get on the board with the opening possession, as the Falcons defense began to buckle. Score: 20-7. The Falcons would answer, though, with a long 7 minute drive that would put them up 27-7 on a TD pass to Jason Snelling. The Seahawks would begin another drive at the end of the third quarter that would culminate at the beginning of the fourth and draw the game back to a 27-14 score. On the ensuing drive, on a 2nd and 11, Ryan would throw a pass into double coverage that would be intercepted by Earl Thomas. It would be a killer interception, as the Seahawks would turn the turnover into a TD and pull the game to a much smaller 27-21 lead for the Falcons.
The Falcons offense appeared inept on the next drive, going 3 and out, though the Seahawks would do nothing with their next drive as well. Though the Falcons would manage one first down on their next possession, they would ultimately punt the ball with 3:09 left on the clock. That's when the nightmare began.
The Seahawks - on the backs of Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson - would march down the field over the next 2 and half minutes in a drive that would tear the hearts out of Falcons players and fans alike. Finally, on a first and goal from the 2 yard line and with only 34 seconds left in the game, the Seahawks would hand off to Marshawn Lynch, who would punch it in for the go ahead TD. Seattle 28. Falcons 27. The Georgia Dome fell silent, as fans were in shock and disbelief.
With 31 seconds left on the clock, the Seahawks kicked off. Jaquizz Rodgers would return it out of the end zone and all the way up to the Falcons 28. First and 10 - 28 seconds on the clock. Ryan would drop back and release a pass that seemed straight out of the 2008 Bears game. Instead of Michael Jenkins, Harry Douglas would catch the ball near the sidelines for a 22 yard gain, though he wouldn't make it out of bounds to stop the clock. The Falcons would take their second timeout.
First and 10 on the 50 with 19 seconds left on the clock. Matt drops back - and in an underrated play, Jaquizz Rodgers would throw a critical block to keep Ryan clean - releases the pass and finds Tony Gonzalez down the seam for a 19 yard gain. Mike Smith, in a moment of panic and excitement, would rush down the field and call the timeout with 13 seconds left on the clock.
Matt Bryant would line up at the Seattle 31 to prepare for a 48 yard field goal. The ball is snapped and kicked ... and goes wide right. However, the refs waive off the kick indicating that the Seahawks had called a timeout just seconds before. There is some confusion as Pete Carroll seems to indicate that he didn't call the timeout - when he was really just arguing that Bryant shouldn't have been allowed to complete the kick after the timeout was called. After the timeout, and with just 13 seconds left on the clock: the snap... the hold ... the kick... IT'S GOOD! Falcons go ahead 30 to 28.
The Falcons would kickoff with a mind-boggling squib kick and threaten our sanity by allowing a hail mary pass that Julio would intercept. But the game would close out with the final score: Falcons 30, Seahawks 28.
It's hard to overstate how significant this win was. It was Ryan's first playoff win, which would finally quiet some of the noise around whether or not he could win in the playoffs. It was also Tony Gonzalez's first (and ultimately only) playoff win in his career, and the emotional impact to him was so powerful to see. Though the Falcons wouldn't make it to the Super Bowl (we won't be discussing the subsequent game), this game was an emotional boost for the team and the fans. It fostered a new belief in the team that was nearly realized in the next game. The 2012 season had felt special, and the finish to this game only further emphasized that feeling. Not to mention the yet again miraculous nature of this comeback.
Because of the significance of the win to guys like Ryan and Gonzalez, and the sheer emotional impact of what this comeback meant for the team, the franchise and especially the fans, this comeback is the top overall fourth quarter comeback ever led by Matt Ryan.