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Red Zone Ryan


After the Week 1 loss to the Chicago Bears, much of the national media whispered questions about Matt Ryan's ability to play at a high level.

On national television Sunday night, he answered those questions, as he has done in the past. A four-touchdown effort against a team of cornerbacks most defensive coordinators would dream about showed Ryan can hold his own with the best of the best passers in the league.

Against Philadelphia's front four he had his moments where he struggled, fleeing the pursuit of the likes of defensive end Trent Cole, but when the game mattered the most, Atlanta's fourth-year quarterback delivered. He took a beating from a notoriously tough defense, said thank you and came back for more.

"He gets hit and he takes that hit and he keeps going," coach Mike Smith said after Sunday's game. "He is a guy that will never give up. when you have a guy like that leading your football team it's going to pay dividends in the long run."

When you examine Ryan's four touchdowns a little closer you find something that is being overlooked. Scoring touchdowns in the red zone is a challenging task. Just as the field is shorter for the offense to cover for a score, the defensive field of play shrinks as well. It becomes a game of geometry, finding angles and matchups that work in seconds of time.

Every visit Matt Ryan and the offense made into the Eagles' red zone resulted in a touchdown. He was the benefactor of some outstanding plays on defense to force turnovers and he made the most of them.

"When your defense gives you a short field and we're on the plus side of the 50, it makes your job a lot easier on offense," Ryan said. "You feel added responsibility when you get the ball in that situation to take it in and punch it in for a touchdown and we did a great job of that (Sunday)."

Consider the fact that four of his five touchdowns were passing touchdowns against three Pro Bowl cornerbacks and you get a sense of some of the magic Ryan was creating on offense.

Ryan's passing yards weren't eye popping, but he was an incredible efficient 60 percent passing. His yards were down because of the field position he was able to inherit. Inside the twenty, he managed to mix the run and the pass for great effect and connected on six of his seven passes in the red zone.

To repeat, four of his seven throws in the Eagles' red zone resulted in touchdowns. Against Pro Bowl corners.

Ryan earned his nickname of "Matty Ice" for a cool demeanor in big games. On Sunday, he showed he still deserves the nickname and then some. In the biggest moments of the game, with the end zone in sight, he delivered the game's biggest plays, giving the Falcons the difference they needed to find this season's first victory and put to rest, once again, the doubters.

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