Matt Ryan has done his fair share of stat padding this year. For a fanbase that has justifiably and endlessly mocked Drew Brees for doing just that during his 7-9 years with the Saints, we’ve got to be willing to acknowledge when Ryan is throwing for gobs of yards and touchdowns when the game is already out of reach. It doesn’t diminish Ryan’s general excellence to do so, but it is an acknowledgement of how this season has gone and how the offense has tended to struggle early in games.
On Sunday, though, Ryan did no such thing. Down big at the half and reckoning with a defense that once again consistently failed to get the job done, Ryan caught fire, completing 30 of his 36 passes for 356 yards and four touchdowns and zero interceptions over a totally overmatched Cardinals defense. The Falcons, despite virtually no pass rush, no forced turnovers whatsoever, and all the challenges we all watched, scored 33 points.
And yet it wasn’t enough, because the story of Matt Ryan’s tenure in Atlanta is that his heroics are never enough and his so-so games will be punished with rare defensive competence. In fact, Ryan set yet another record with this performance.
Congrats are in order for Matt Ryan becoming the first QB in NFL history to complete 80+% of his passes for over 300 yards with 4 TD and 0 INTs and lose. pic.twitter.com/NS8uA2CiEG— Jeff Asher (@Crimealytics) October 13, 2019
This just keeps happening. Ryan is headed for the territory of greats like Ken Anderson, Dan Marino, and others who have been among the greats of their era but have repeatedly seen their teams fall short of the ultimate prize (and many non-ultimate prizes), robbing them of the level of recognition they likely deserved. On a day where everyone on offense was fighting like hell and Ryan was leading the charge, it was aggravating but unsurprising to see this team undone by factors mostly outside of their control.
The offense has now at least gotten moving the last two weeks, providing some hope they’ll be able to give us lively games the rest of the way, and Devonta Freeman, Julio Jones, Austin Hooper, and Calvin Ridley in particular are looking good. It’s just a shame that fine days by those guys—and record-breaking days by Ryan—will continue to sink beneath the muck of a defense that itself sinks to new lows by the week.