Matt Ryan’s touchdown pass drought is over

In the aftermath of the Falcons’ firing of coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff, quarterback Matt Ryan turned in a vintage performance in a win over Minnesota.

Ryan completed 30 of 40 passes (75%) for 371 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions against Minnesota. He finished with a passer rating of 136.6 and was named the NFC’s offensive player of the week Wednesday.

“Matt came out this week and played a really good game,” Falcons interim coach Raheem Morris said. “He went out and established himself as the premier player that we know he can be in this league. I’m fired up for Matt and I’m fired up for us, to go out there have the ability to get the win.”

In the win, Ryan became the fourth player with at least 350 passing yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions while completing at least 75% of his passes in multiple games in NFL history, joining Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.

Against the Vikings, it took Ryan only five plays to snap his streak of 11 quarters without throwing a touchdown pass, the longest touchdown passing drought of his illustrious career. He connected with Julio Jones for 20-yard score to get things started against the Vikings.

In 2008, Ryan tossed a 67-yard touchdown pass to Jerious Norwood in the fourth quarter of a 34-20 win over the Saints on Nov. 9 at the Georgia Dome. In the next two games, against Denver and Carolina, Ryan didn’t throw a touchdown pass.

In the second quarter of the next game against San Diego, he tossed an 18-yard touchdown pass to tight end Justin Peelle to snap his streak of nine quarters without a touchdown pass.

After the firings of Quinn and Dimitroff on Oct. 11, owner Arthur Blank made it clear that the future of the team and the only Falcons player to win an MVP award would be handled by newcomers.

With the NFL’s Nov. 3 trade deadline quickly approaching, there’s been speculation that the Falcons will trade some of their assets to help with the forthcoming rebuild.

“There will be time for that at some point, but we’ve got 10 games to go,” Ryan said when asked about this future with the Falcons. “We’ve got some good football teams that we have got to play, some really good defenses.”

Ryan, 35, is blocking out the trade and rebuilding talk. With three years to go on his contract and salary-cap numbers of $40.9 million in 2021, $41.6 million in 2022 and $36.6 in 2023, he practically can’t be traded. A massively restructured deal would have to be worked out.

“I think that if I worry about what is going to happen in four months, five months from now as opposed to getting ready for the Detroit Lions this week, I’m not giving our team the best chance to win,” Ryan said. “I really don’t go there. I focus on what’s in front of me.”

Ryan has been through two of his head coaches getting fired, the Super Bowl LI collapse and four changes at the offensive coordinator position.

“I think one of the perks of being a veteran is that you’ve gone through a lot of things in your career, and it hardens you and made you better for it,” Ryan said. “You learn what works for you and worrying about that kind of stuff doesn’t work for me. Focusing on this week does and that’s what I’m going to continue and try and do.”

As far as the Lions, Ryan can’t want to face his buddy Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford, the No. 1 overall pick from Georgia in the 2009 draft, when the teams meet at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“There was this under-hand, sidearm pass that he had, that was pretty sweet (last week against Jacksonville)‚” Ryan said. “I let him know that I liked that one and that I’d see him after the game on Sunday.”

Through travails and triumphs, the Ryans and Staffords have grown close over the years. They have been there for one another through health scares and family emergencies.

“I knew Matthew in passing for a long time, since really he came in to the league,” Ryan said. “I really got to know him at the Pro Bowl in 2014. I got to meet him and his wife, Kelly, and we got to know them a little bit better and realized that we lived really close to each other in the offseason.”

They struck up a friendship and have been close every since.

“The circle is small,” Ryan said. “You get to know people pretty well in this league the longer you hang around. We’ve got so much in common and live in the same place. He’s been a great friend throughout the years.”

Ryan is hoping the offense can continue to perform well against the Lions.

“The big thing is turnovers, limiting those turnovers and creating more explosive plays,” Ryan said. "I think if we try and do those things on offense those things lead to points and keeping points off the board for the other team.

“At the end of the day, that’s as simple as we can make it. That’s all that matters. We are always trying to find ways to be explosive offensively. I try and take responsibility to be smart with the football and make sure that we are not giving them anything that’s cheap or easy.”

Falcons' next four games

Lions at Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25

Falcons at Panthers at 8:20 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29

Broncos at Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8

Falcons at Saints at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22

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