The Atlanta Falcons didn’t leave room for error this year. They’ve already wrapped up the NFC South with four weeks to go in the season. But that isn’t making Falcons fans feel any better about the team’s Super Bowl chances because Atlanta has fallen flat in January every time they’ve made the dance during the Matt Ryan/Mike Smith era.
But Ryan says this year, things are different.
Matt Ryan joined the Rude Awakening on WCNN in Atlanta to discuss the debate over his nickname, the play of left tackle Sam Baker, last week’s win over the division-rival Saints and his receiving corps shining. Most importantly, though, Ryan established just why this team stands out from past editions.
On NFL Network’s Rich Eisen wanting to change Ryan’s nickname to the Matural:
“He tries hard. He’s trying hard to get it going. I’ll tell you what, from my Twitter account people really like the nickname Matty Ice. So I think that’s staying.”
On left tackle Sam Baker finally putting it together this year:
“I think Sam’s playing really well. This is probably the first year in two or three that he’s been healthy and stable throughout the course of the year, and I think that’s important. He’s playing at a high level, playing with a lot of confidence, which is great for us.”
On beating the Saints in Week 13:
“It was big. I think division games, they always carry a little bit more weight, and specifically with New Orleans. It’s a team that, for the past four or five years, we haven’t played our best football against. We haven’t had the record that we want to have, so I think it was important. We played really well defensively, created five turnovers, and did enough to get it done on offense.”
On Tony Gonzalez and his receiving corps:
“He’s having a great season, playing at a really high level. Roddy, Julio, Harry, those guys are all having great years as well. The best part about it is all of those guys push each other to be better and they’re all unselfish. They all just want to win. And when you have talented guys that have that kind of attitude, it’s fun to be around.”
On the difference between this year’s team and Falcons teams that have been one-and-done in the playoffs in recent seasons:
“I think we’re more experienced. I think everybody has been in those situations before, understands that it takes a level of commitment that is greater than we’ve had in the past. And I think this year guys have bought into that and done a great job. I think our focus the entire year has been better than it’s ever been.”