The Union Recorder

Local Sports

December 27, 2012

Falcons' Ryan closing regular season on hot streak

ATLANTA — Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons disagree with the idea they have little to play for in Sunday's final regular-season game against Tampa Bay.

The Falcons (13-2) have home-field advantage through the NFC playoffs, and a big goal this week is for Ryan to carry his hot streak into the postseason.

Ryan threw seven touchdown passes with no interceptions the past two weeks while completing 80 percent of his passes. He was selected to the Pro Bowl on Wednesday.

Coach Mike Smith said that ranks as the fifth-year quarterback's best back-to-back games.

Center Todd McClure said this is the perfect time for Ryan to be peaking.

"You look the past few years at teams that have had success in the playoffs, the quarterback has gotten hot at the right time," McClure said. "Our quarterback definitely is hot and we've got to keep him that way."

Ryan has completed 69 percent of his passes this season. Only San Francisco's Alex Smith, who has played in only nine games, has a higher completion rate, according to STATS LLC.

Ryan's franchise-record 4,481 yards passing ranks fifth in the NFL, and he's also fifth with 31 touchdown passes and his 100.2 quarterback rating.

Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano said Ryan deserves to be mentioned with the league's top quarterbacks.

"I think he's in the elite status," Schiano said. "I think he's at that level with the kind of field command he has and the way he directs the operation. To me, there are a lot of guys who have big arms and guys who are mobile and all that, but it's the way they lead and the command they have over their offense which makes them elite."

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