Matt Ryan: ‘I made ... the wrong play and it cost us’

Here’s what Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said after the 23-16 loss Sunday to the Panthers in Atlanta:

On the interception in the end zone: “I just had to throw it away and live to fight another down. We didn’t really have anything there and not the time to just kind of lob one up. So that sucks. That’s part of it. It’s not fun but that’s part of playing sports. When you have the ball in your hand you’ve got to make decisions. I made the wrong one there, wrong play and it cost us. That was a tough one.”

On whether coach Quinn’s message is reaching the players: “I think as players, we’ve got to play better. His messaging has been on point and our play has not. That’s what we have to focus on. I know I’d like to play better than I did today for sure and give our team a better chance specifically late in the game. I thought we did a pretty good job but late in the game we’ve got to find a way to punch it in.”

On the performance of the Panthers defense: “I thought they played well. I really think it was about us. We had opportunities to make some plays to extend drives in the second quarter and we didn’t do that. We had chances in a two-minute drive at the end where we were not on the same page to execute like we should. We have to be better there. In this league, the margin of error is different. There’s plays throughout the course of the game that change the dynamic of how things shake out. We have to play better. We have to be a lot sharper.”

On the Panthers defensive style: “Their defensive style is to keep things in front. They drop eight people in pass coverage more than anybody else in the NFL. We knew coming into it, it was about staying patient and not trying to force things into tough coverage because they do a good job of really keeping things in front. We had a couple of nice explosives in the pass game and I thought we ran the football extremely effectively. Again, it really comes down to staying patient like we did but when we had our chances, we had to capitalize, and we didn’t do that.”

On the challenge of not having WR Julio Jones available: “We are obviously a better team when he’s out there. He’s a great player but you have to find a way. That’s part of the deal in this business and in this sport. Injuries happen and there’s going to be times throughout the year where you have to find a way to get it done without all your guys. We didn’t do a good enough job with that.”

Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst (81) is unable to pull down a Matt Ryan pass in the end zone during the fourth quarter of a 23-16 loss to the Carolina Panthers Saturday, Oct. 11, 2020, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. (Jason Getz/For the AJC)

Credit: Jason Getz

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Credit: Jason Getz

On trying to connect with TE Hayden Hurst in the end zone late in the game: “If we hit that one, we’re kicking a field goal and can be less aggressive on that third down situation by not trying to throw one up. We had a chance and were hot off the edge. We didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to have been able to throw it, but I tried to throw it with a little bit of touch. I just missed.”

On having to settle for field goals in the red zone: “For us offensively, when we get our chances down there, we’ve got to come away with touchdowns and we have not been good enough these past few weeks.”

On Todd Gurley’s performance: “I thought Todd [Gurley] played extremely well for us. He ran the football hard, caught the ball well out of the backfield for us and was good in pass protection. I think he has continued to kind of get a feel for what we need from him and he’s got better every week. He played really well for us today.”

On feeding the ball to Calvin Ridley: “I think we always plan to try and get our guys going. I thought Dirk [Koetter] did a nice job of doing that. We had some shots early where we just had to move on because of different things whether it be coverage or whatever. He stayed patient and then found a way to be explosive for us. He had a great conversion on third and really long. He had a great catch on the sideline for us to convert to keep that drive going. I thought he did a nice job.”

On whether he thinks coach Quinn will lose his job: “I hope not. I think Dan’s been nothing but a great head coach since he’s been here. We just haven’t done a good enough job as a team and as players. It’s a hard business, that’s for sure. We all love and respect what Dan does for this football team. We’ve got to find a way as players to be better.”