Focused Ryan drills hole in heart of Packers

October 30, 2016 ATLANTA: Matt Ryan completes a pass under pressure from the Packers during the first half in an NFL football game on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton /ccompton@ajc.com
October 30, 2016 ATLANTA: Matt Ryan completes a pass under pressure from the Packers during the first half in an NFL football game on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton /ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan tries to manage the highs and lows of the NFL.

But, he lost his voice after the Falcons pulled out a 33-32 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

Ryan, who had tossed two late-game interceptions that led to losses in the previous games to San Diego and Seattle, cut the Packers’ defense up with surgical precision with the game on the line.

He drilled an an 11-yard touchdown dart to Mohamed Sanu with 31 seconds left.

“Part of being a professional and being a really good professional is understanding that throughout the course of the season, there are going to be ups and downs,” Ryan said. “You have to be able to put both the good and the bad behind you.”

Against Seattle, the Falcons were up 24-23 and trying to run out the clock when an errant pass skidded off of Julio Jones’ out-stretched hands and was popped up in the air by cornerback Richard Sherman. It was intercepted by free safety Earl Thomas.

The Seahawks got a field goal and went on to win 26-24.

Against San Diego, with the Falcons up 30-27 a Ryan pass intended for Jones was intercepted by San Diego linebacker Denzel Perryman. The Chargers tied the game and won in overtime.

“Certainly, we didn’t get the result that we wanted the last two weeks,” Ryan said. “I don’t think that anybody was discouraged. We learned from those situations and when we had our opportunity late in the game today, we executed really well.”

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan discusses his touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu that lifted them over the Green Bay Packers. Video by D. Orlando Ledbetter

After the Falcons’ defense blew another lead and were down 32-26, Ryan had the ball from their 25-yard line with 3:58 to play. He completed 9 of 11 passes for on the game-winning drive and converted two third downs. The Falcons weren’t in a major hurry because they didn’t want to leave Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers with too much time.

He found Sanu in the back of the end zone with 31 seconds left to play.

“I thought it was a great call,” Ryan said. “We had seen so much double coverage to Julio (Jones). Honestly, I think ever snap that he was in, he got doubled today. So, we had Mohamed right inside of it.

“We had a matchup that we liked on the linebacker. Mo did a great job of staying patient with the route…. I saw an opportunity to give him a high-ball in the end zone and he made a great catch. He came down and got his feet it, which was nice to see.”

For Ryan, who was nicknamed “Matty Ice” for his clutch performances, it was his 33rd game-winning drive and 25 come-from-behind victory.

“Those things don’t come into our mind as we are getting ready to attack,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said about the two blown opportunities against Seattle and San Diego. “Matt managed the game terrifically today, even all the way down through the two-minute, knowing that the quarterback on the other side is difficult to give him the ball with a lot of time, too.”

Quinn hadn’t seen the Matty Ice, who did most of magical work during the first five years of his career when he was guiding the Falcons to the playoffs four times.

“(You can) feel his demeanor on the sideline,” Quinn said. “On the timeout, he came over and he had that locked-in-look in his eyes. As a coach, I was like go back out there. He was ready to go. His teammates respond to him because of the toughness and his attitude that he displays for them all the time.”

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