Ryan fastest player to 40,000 passing yards in NFL history

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan became the fastest player to pass for 40,000 yards in NFL history on Sunday.

After an efficient, 22 of 29 day against the Cowboys in a 27-7 victory at Mercedes Benz Stadium, Ryan went into the league record books with 40,073 passing yards in just 151 games.

The previous mark was held by Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who accomplished the feat in 152 games. Dolphins great Dan Marino did it in 153 games.

“I’ve been fortunate to play with a number of great players throughout my nine and a half or 10 years here,” said Ryan, who was the third player selected in the 2008 NFL draft out of Boston College. “I have been fortunate to be on some really good teams and to be able to stay healthy. I’m proud of that. I hope that there’s another 40,000 in there and I can keep playing for a long time.”

Ryan passed for 215 yards and two touchdowns against the Cowboys. He finished with a 104.8 passer rating.

The game also marked the 78th time that Ryan has thrown for multiple touchdowns in a game. He had a 3-yard touchdown pass to Justin Hardy in the third quarter to put the Falcons ahead 17-7. He tossed a 1-yard touchdown pass to Austin Hooper in the fourth quarter to give the Falcons a 24-7 lead.

Ryan also continued his NFL record 64-game streak of passing for 200 yards or more in a game.

Also, he’s now thrown a touchdown pass in 27 straight games, which is the longest current streak in the league.

The offense’s performance against the Cowboys was perhaps its best of the season.

“I thought we did some nice things offensively,” Ryan said. “Whether it’s the best or not, it doesn’t matter. It was good enough to get the job done.”

The Falcons started off slow and had to make-up for the loss of starting running back Devonta Freeman on their second play of the game. He left with a concussion and did not return.

“I felt like we weathered the storm early,” Ryan said. “Their defense was being aggressive and doing a great job, as well as their front seven early in that game.”

In addition to losing Freeman, wide receiver Mohamed Sanu couldn’t haul in a Ryan pass that went off his hands and was intercepted by Cowboys cornerback Xavier Woods on the next play.

“(We) weathered the turnover,” Ryan said. “I think it might have been in the first drive of the game that we were able to rebound from all that stuff and get into a nice rhythm.”

Running back Tevin Coleman, who replaced Freeman, scored from one yard out in the second quarter to get the Falcons the lead for good. Defensive tackle Dontari Poe played fullback on the way and cleared a path for Coleman.

The Falcons had won the toss and elected to defer. The put together an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to start the third quarter and take a 17-7 lead.

It was the offense’s first touchdown in the third quarter this season.

“I thought the touchdown before the half was critical,” Ryan said. “Coming out in the second half and putting together three scoring drives before we got into a four-minute situation was huge for us.”

Ryan was unaware that it was the unit’s first third-quarter touchdown of the season.

“You’ve been keeping track of those,” Ryan said. “I didn’t know that, but it was huge. Getting the ball to start the second half is something we talk about all the time. One of the things that we want to do when we defer is score at the end of the half, then put on another seven points coming out of the half.

“That’s tough for a defense and for a team to go against. I thought we did a really nice job in the execution when we converted a couple third downs, which got us going. Then we were able to punch it in there at the end with a touchdown pass to Justin Hardy.”

The Falcons couldn’t afford to drop to under .500 with the Saints (7-2) and the Panthers (6-3) ahead of them in the NFC South race. The Saints drubbed the Bills on Sunday and the Panthers play on Monday Night Football.

“Obviously we understand where we’re at halfway through the season, 4-4, and we probably deserve that,” Ryan said. “We were kind of inconsistent. Starting the second half of the season, we weren’t looking past today. It was a good step in the right direction for us if we’re going to become the kind of football team that we want to be moving forward.”

It was the closest thing to a complete game that the Falcons have played this season. They had a strong first half against Green Bay and everything else has been some uneven football each week.

“We need to play our best week-in and week-out, and I thought we played well,” Ryan said. “We can play better for sure, but it was a step in the right direction.”

With Freeman down, Coleman (20 carries for 83 yards) and Terron Ward (nine for 23) combined for 106 yards rushing on 29 carries.

“We believe that our entire offense is complementary,” Ryan said. “Whether it be running to set up the pass or throwing to set up the run game for us, we’re going to be consistent. We’re going to stay balanced. I thought Steve Sarkisian did an excellent job of staying with it when we needed to and got the run game going in the second half.”

Subscribe to "The Bow Tie Chronicles" podcast with the AJC's D. Orlando Ledbetter on iTunes or on the new AJC sports podcasts page.

About the Author

Editors' Picks