Over 14 seasons, Ryan completed 5,242 of 8,003 pass attempts for 59,735 yards and 367 touchdowns – all Falcons franchise records. He also holds team records for career passer rating (94.2), career completion percentage (65.5) and career 300-yard passing games (73).
“This business is not without its difficult decisions, and while this is one of the most difficult decisions we have faced as a club, we feel it is in the best long-term interests of both the Atlanta Falcons and Matt Ryan,” Falcons owner Arthur Blank said in a statement just after the trade. “On behalf of the entire Falcons organization, I wish him success as he continues his career and know that he will bring the same dedication and professionalism to his next club.”
That next club, the Colts, can begin feeling more comfortable following Ryan’s debut, which reflected many of his pass attempts: relatively short and efficient.
With Von Miller and the rest of the Bills starting defense sitting out, Ryan finished 6 of 10 for 58 yards, with two of his incompletions coming on fourth down. More importantly, the 15-year veteran didn’t commit a turnover while showing a nimbleness in the pocket by avoiding a defender to hit Michael Pittman in stride on a crossing route for a 17-yard completion.
“I thought he looked poised in the pocket. I thought he looked accurate. I thought every throw was pretty much right where it needed to be,” coach Frank Reich said. “I expected to see him do that, and he certainly delivered.”
Ryan is set to become the Colts’ fourth different opening day starter in as many years since Andrew Luck retired. He takes over after Indianapolis parted ways with Carson Wentz, who took the blame for the Colts squandering their playoff chances by losing their final two games, including a 26-11 season-ending dud at Jacksonville.
Reich provided Ryan the preseason start in part to provide the starter an extra chance to ramp up for the season-opener at Houston on Sept. 11. Reich is also mindful of how the Colts got off to a slow start in opening last season 1-4 under Wentz.
Sam Ehlinger, the Colts’ sixth-round pick out of Texas last year, finished 10 of 11 for 88 yards with touchdown passes to tight ends Jelani Woods and Michael Jacobson.
Tyler Bass made a 46-yard field goal as time expired as Buffalo scored on three consecutive possessions in the final 8:10 to rally from a 14-point deficit.
Buffalo won its ninth straight preseason outing, which ranks as the NFL’s second-longest active streak behind the Baltimore Ravens who have won a league-record 21 in a row.