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Matt Ryan reacts to first NFL touchdown catch on Falcons' trick play: 'My hands are pretty good'

TAMPA, Fla. – Down 17-7 and facing a third-and-goal at the 5-yard line on their first possession of the second half, the Falcons (7-9) knew they had something up their sleeve.


After receiving the shotgun snap, Matt Ryan handed the ball off to Calvin Ridley in the backfield who promptly lateraled it to Mohamed Sanu coming on a reverse around the right side. As Sanu received the pitch, he gathered the ball and lofted a lob pass to Ryan, who was all alone on the right sideline for a touchdown.

Ryan's touchdown, the first of his 11-year NFL career, didn't look effortless, but it did give the former NFL MVP a chance to showcase his receiving skills, something he critiqued following the Falcons' 34-32 victory against the Buccaneers (5-11).

"My hands are pretty good; my route running is not very good. That's probably the biggest thing" Ryan said. "I had to draw back on playing for the Downingtown Young Whippets in like third and fourth grade when I was playing tight end to go out there and make that catch."  

The reverse pass to the quarterback is a play that has come back into fashion over the last season thanks in part to the Eagles' "Philly Special," which helped Philadelphia win Super Bowl LII.

When asked if he had a name of his own for the Falcons' trick play, coach Dan Quinn said, "Pirate," adding that he just came up with the name.

"There was a lot of pressure on Matt to catch that one," Quinn said. "It was a good throw by Mo… We had called it twice in practice during the week and both times it looked good. And so when the moment came, sometimes you have to wait for a spot on the field, when it was called sometimes as a coach you get excited to see if one is going to work out, and that one did for sure."

That touchdown helped the Falcons cut into the Buccaneers' lead after Atlanta initially fell behind 17-0 in the first half. A 17-point third quarter helped jumpstart the Falcons' offense and ultimately led to a 34-32 in the team's season finale.

Ryan, as was often the case in 2018, had a noteworthy performance in the final game, throwing for 378 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. But it was his first NFL receiving touchdown that will likely make highlight reels.

"Great play call by [Steve Sarkisian], good design," Ryan said. "During the week it felt like we could get the job done if we did it. It was cool to catch my first NFL pass and first NFL touchdown. Took me 11 years, but it was pretty cool, it was fun. Good play and fun to be a part of it."

The Falcons face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this Sunday afternoon at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida for the last game of the 2018 season. Get your inside look here.

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