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Matt Ryan played at his best in the 4th quarter in 2018

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Matt Ryan has always possessed the clutch gene.

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

As we head into the 2019 season, let me tell you something that you’ve probably already known for a long time — Matt Ryan is very clutch.

The Falcons’ quarterback has always come up big in late moments of a football game. Ryan is tied for fourth among all active players in career fourth quarter comebacks with 27. The QBs who populate the list ahead of him — Tom Brady (35), Drew Brees (34), Ben Roethlisberger (31), and Eli Manning (tie with 27) — have each been playing in the NFL for at least four more seasons than Ryan.

The Boston College alum tallied just one fourth quarter comeback in 2018, but he certainly did his part in the fourth quarter of games throughout the season.

PFF’s Connor Price has the stat:

Ryan’s superb passer rating coincides with the eye test of what we saw on the field. The 77.2% completion percentage, 1,507 passing yards, 8.8 yards per attempt, 13 passing touchdowns, and 76 first downs Ryan recorded in the fourth quarter was more than what he did in any other period last season.

Ryan did more than enough to win last season’s matchups against the Saints (in Week 3), Bengals, and Cowboys, but was let down by his defense late in each of those games. Had the Falcons held on to those three fourth quarter leads, they would have won 10 games and found themselves in the playoffs.

Now, I know some people will say that Ryan accumulated those fourth quarter numbers in garbage time last season, but that’s just simply not true:

Ryan’s fourth quarter numbers were even better when the game was within seven points — his completion percentage increased to 79.4%, his yards per attempt increased to 11.3, his first down percentage increased from 44.4% to 48.5%, and his passer rating increased to a league high as a result.

Matt Ryan is one of the best performers in the league when the game grinds into a fourth-quarter pressure cooker. We’ll see how many times he finds himself in that scenario in the 2019 season, which is right around the corner.