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Cool Under Pressure


Let's make no mistake about it. Sunday night's game was all about the quarterbacks.

It's all anyone really talked about leading up to the Falcons' 35-31 win over the Eagles on Sunday Night Football. Almost every question revolved around either Matt Ryan or Michael Vick.

The big question on this side of the fence seemed to be how Ryan would handle the pressure — seemingly the weight of an entire city resting on his arm.

But, really, it's any wonder how that question even came up.

Ryan's home record isn't exactly a secret. In just more than three seasons, Ryan had amassed an impressive 20-2 record inside the Georgia Dome before last night's game, and in those 20 wins, there was pressure. Lots of pressure.

But Ryan is usually able to rise above it and perform. So it really should be no surprise that he did it again Sunday night.

Sure, there were some struggles early on. The offense couldn't keep a rhythm in the middle portion of the game and, as a result, Philadelphia scored 21 unanswered points to take a 10-point lead before the end of the third quarter.

But that's when the Falcons really showed up — Ryan, specifically.

Starting from the Falcons' offensive drive after the Eagles scored to go ahead by 10, Ryan's numbers were impressive. They were cold as ice.

From the 1:59 mark in the third quarter, Ryan went 9-of-11 with 93 yards and a touchdown. The Falcons scored two TDs in the fourth quarter — one a pass to fullback Ovie Mughelli and the other a run by Michael Turner — and both were set up by the ability of Ryan to understand the gravity of the situation, remain calm and lead his team.

During that span of 16 minutes, 59 seconds, Ryan found six different receivers, spreading the ball to Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, Jason Snelling, Harry Douglas, Julio Jones and Mughelli. All on arguably the best secondary in the league.

But let's not forget about how efficient Ryan's offense was before it found itself down by 10 points to a very tough opponent. Ryan set a career mark for touchdown tosses in a game, and he had three under his belt before he really turned it on in the latter part of the third and all of the fourth quarter.

Oh, and the Falcons were 5-for-5 on red zone possessions.

Big game? Yes. Big pressure? No doubt.

But if there really was any remaining question as to how Ryan handles pressure coming into Sunday night's game, it's safe to say it has been answered.

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