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From the moment Matt Ryan stepped onto the field, he emanated greatness. From his first pass resulting in a touchdown to leading the Falcons to their second NFC championship and through a Super Bowl run, Ryan put together one of the most significant careers in franchise history.

Now, after 15 seasons, 62,792 passings yards, 381 touchdown passes, four Pro Bowl appearances and an NFL MVP award, Ryan officially closes the book on his storied career, retiring as an Atlanta Falcon.

To honor his 14 seasons with the franchise, compiled accounts from former teammates and coaches as they reminisce on some of the most memorable moments of Ryan's career.

Sept. 7, 2008 — The Debut

After being drafted No. 3 overall in the 2008 NFL Draft, Ryan made his professional debut in the Falcons home opener against the Detroit Lions.

Todd McClure, center: The first time he ever stepped in the huddle we were cutting up, and he stepped in and with a few choice words got the veterans' attention. Then, his first NFL pass...

The first pass of Ryan's career was a 62-yard touchdown catch by wide receiver Michael Jenkins.

Michael Jenkins, wide receiver: The joy on (his) face after catching the first pass of (his) career for a touchdown is something I'll never forget. I am glad I was a part of that.

John Abraham, defensive end: His first pass was the most incredible thing I ever saw. It was foreshadowing of what we were in for.

D.J. Shockley, quarterback: He came to the sideline and could hardly breathe from the moment. He looks at me and says, "Bro, what in the hell just happened?"

Mike Smith, head coach: (He) instantly became the leader of the Falcons team, on and off the field.

In that moment...

Abraham: The whole stadium and franchise smiled.

Oct. 12, 2008 — The Coming Out Party

In Week 6, Ryan completed his first (of many) game-winning drives at home against the Chicago Bears.

Jenkins: You see why they called (him) Matty Ice vs. Chicago.

Michael Turner, running back: That was his coming out party, that he could lead a team in tough times.

With 17 seconds left in the game, the Bears lined up to score a go-ahead touchdown to go up 20-19. The celebrations were premature. With six seconds left, the Falcons took the field. On the first snap, Ryan hit Jenkins for a 26-yard pass to set up the winning field goal.

Jenkins: A clutch corner route to get us in field goal range for the winning kick. That was special.

Turner: That throw to Michael Jenkins on that drive was a perfect throw. We had time for just one throw to have a chance to get into field goal position. … That's when I was like, "Yeah, that man is here."

Jan. 14, 2013 — The Playoff

The Falcons hadn't won a playoff game since 2004. Ryan and company had three chances before the 2012 season but fell short each time. That would change in the NFC divisional game versus the Seattle Seahawks.

Roddy White, wide receiver: The Seattle playoff game was the best game I have seen.

Gonzalez: People can do all they want during the regular season, but what separates you is when you get to the playoffs and you make plays in the clutch moment. Matt was very good at that during the regular season, he's got a load of comebacks. But in the playoffs is when it really, really counts.

He was able to step up, and it was like, "OK, this guy's gonna be a great player for a long time."

Atlanta shut out the Seahawks 20-0 in the first half, but Seattle came storming back to take a late, one-point lead with 31 seconds left. Then, Ryan and the Falcons got the ball back.

McClure: I think my favorite moment (with Matt) would be him leading the game-winning drive against Seattle in the 2012 playoffs.

Gonzalez: Basically, we had no room for error, and the way Matt got — it was all confidence. It all started with him in the huddle. ... That drive right there was one of the greatest moments I've ever had a chance to be a part of. It is.

It really is the greatest drive that I've ever been a part of because of the implications. We went to the NFC championship game off of that drive.

Jan. 22, 2016 — The MVP Year

The Falcons organization reached a crescendo with Ryan in the 2016 season. The team reached new heights of success, carrying the title of NFC South divisional champions into the postseason.

Gonzalez: He was the best quarterback in the NFL that year. It was to the point where I was watching him like, "This guy can't miss." Everything was just perfect. On time.

Jake Matthews, offensive tackle: He was lights out. He was a big reason why we got to where we did. There were a lot of games that year that were pretty spectacular.

Maybe none as much as the NFC championship game against Green Bay when the Falcons punched their ticket to the Super Bowl with a 44-21 win over the Packers.

Dan Quinn, head coach: Four touchdowns, zero sacks, zero interceptions, 392 yards. You talk about precision and trying to carve somebody up? That kind of mindset and that kind of performance stood out to me.

And because he is Matty Ice, but also Matty Wheels. I look back and he ran three times for 23 yards. That is a big day for Matt rushing the ball.

Shockley: That NFC championship game, dude was locked in.

Though Atlanta would fall short in the Super Bowl, the 2016 season cemented Ryan's legacy as MVP and Offensive Player of the Year.

Gonzalez: His impact on the game, I mean, he was an MVP, he took them to a Super Bowl. He was a franchise quarterback. He's somebody that comes in and changes the face of the organization.

Dec. 18, 2017 — The Moment Everyone Remembers

On Monday Night Football, the Falcons were attempting to hold onto a small 17-14 lead in the fourth quarter in Tampa Bay. With about nine minutes remaining in the game, the broadcast caught Ryan scream a phrase that has been connected to him ever since, especially by those who know him best.

Quinn: My favorite Matt Ryan memory has got to be from the TV broadcast, "Get f— set!" versus Tampa Bay.

The reason I say that is because it saw a glimpse into the competitor that (he is) and the details and the standards that (he) had. That space for me is reserved for just a few people who are the rare competitors, and (he) brought out the best in me.

Matt Schaub, quarterback: That just told you what things meant to him. We were winning the game, but it's just the expectation, the commitment that he had to getting things right.

Alex Mack, center: Matt was not afraid to take the game deadly seriously and hold his teammates accountable. I loved having a quarterback who demanded excellence of those around him.

Quinn: That is one of my favorite memories, not because of the quote, but because of what it stood for.

Jan. 9, 2022: The Finale

Ryan's final game with the Falcons was Atlanta's final game of the 2021 season, when the Falcons hosted the Saints. Ryan's final pass as a Falcon was a touchdown, ending a 14-year Atlanta career exactly how it began. The Falcons didn't win the game, but what Ryan meant to a young team in 2021 still holds weight in 2024.

Chris Lindstrom, guard: I couldn't have asked for a better teammate or leader in the locker room. Really, just a role model for me, showing what it takes to be a pro.

Kyle Pitts, tight end: (He) took me under his wing my rookie year and showed me the way. It was rough, but he helped me out from the start.

Lindstrom: My locker was next to his, and Matt always took care of me every day since Day 1.

Pitts: He used to take me out in pre-game practice. I had to force myself to get dressed early, but learning plays with him because it was time to play. He helped me a lot.

Matthews: He was a great teammate, a great player and someone who I have the utmost respect for and would love to emulate.

April 22, 2024 — The Legacy

After 15 years in the league, Ryan officially retired on April 22, 2024, almost exactly 16 years to the day from the moment he entered the league as a Falcon. For many, his career can't be summed up in a short sentence, but many tried, and likely succeeded.

Schaub: Matt embodies what it means to be a National Football League starting quarterback: His work ethic, his commitment to not only himself but his teammates and the game. He always did whatever he could to make sure that he was ready to go Sunday.

Gonzalez: He's the best quarterback that I've ever played with. ... The first time (I saw) Matt take control of the huddle, he said, "Hey, everybody shut up! We're gonna go out there, and we're gonna score."

He put everybody in there place. I'm older at the time, too, and my first reaction was like, "What? Hold on now." I remember going, "That's what it's about."

I said to myself, "This guy is gonna have a brilliant career." I knew it was probably going to go that way anyway, but you could see the maturity of him developing into that upper echelon quarterback in the NFL.

Schaub: It could be Week 1, it could be August, it could be Week 16 — it didn't matter. His preparation was the same no matter what. That's why I think he played such a long time at such a high level.

Smith: (He) changed the trajectory of the Falcons in 2008 when (he) joined the team.

McClure: It is truly my honor to call him a teammate. He is, and always has been, a pro's pro.

Mack: Matt's career is a model for future quarterbacks. Anyone trying to play this game should take a long look at what Matt was able to do and why. ... I am grateful to have played for the Falcons while we had such a stable, consistent and excellent leader of the team.

Quinn: Getting the chance to see what a real competitor looks like up close and personal for six years was one of my biggest thrills in coaching, man.

Abraham: The epitome of the Falcons!

FINAL NOTE: Though this oral history was co-written by Tori McElhaney and Amna Subhan, they would like to give a special thank you to Nicole Dennis, Matt Haley, Terrin Waack and Shayla Berrian for helping to compile quotes from many of the former coaches and players listed above, as well as the former coaches and players themselves for the time given to reminiscing on and celebrating Matt Ryan's career.

All Matt Ryan retirement content can be found here.

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