The first pass Falcons fans saw Matt Ryan throw in 2008 connected for a 62-yard touchdown. The last pass they saw their two-time Pro Bowl QB throw in 2012 was just short of landing the Falcons a spot in the Super Bowl.
Every pass in between that time has helped launch the Falcons into the category of top NFL franchises and erased a few decades-long droughts. He's become one of the best at his position in his five seasons and with the new five-year extension agreement the team announced on Thursday, there's a good chance he'll end his career as a Falcon and finish his current path to rewriting the franchise record books.
Ryan's 2012 season marks the best in his impressive young career. His statistical improvement season after season culminated with eight single season franchise records last year. Ryan's league-leading 68.6 completion percentage last year was a franchise record, but was also the 13th-best mark in NFL history. He's one of two quarterbacks in history to attempt 600 passes and complete above 68 percent.
Last year's playoff win over Seattle was Ryan's first in his career, but as he continues to grow there's no reason to think he won't add many more. He's done a lot of remarkable things in his short career with the Falcons and that win over the Seahawks was accomplished with a 41-yard drive with 31 seconds remaining to get Atlanta into game-winning field goal position.
After the game, head coach Mike Smith addressed the media and summed up the play of his quarterback in one word.
"Our quarterback, guys and ladies, is a special player," Smith said. "He did a great job there on that last drive."
That Seattle game-winner was Ryan's 22nd game-winning drive, the most in the NFL since 2008 and the most by a quarterback in his first five seasons since 1966. Those 22 game-on-the-line drives from Ryan make up a little less than half of his career wins. He's posted a 56-22 record in his career, the best record by a QB in his first five seasons in NFL history. His win total is also the highest mark in the NFL since 2008 and his .718 winning percentage is the third highest in the league.
With single-season marks already in his name, Ryan is rising up the franchise's career marks for a quarterback. With just five years in, he's at No. 2 in many categories and he's already No. 1 in some. Ryan holds franchise marks for career QB rating with 90.9 (200 pass attempts minimum) and has the most 300-yard games in a career with 17. Ryan's 22 game-winning drives and counting is also a franchise record and this season he could eclipse the mark for most touchdowns in a career.
Here's a look at how Ryan stacks up in the Falcons' record book:
While his 2012 campaign set new franchise highs, he's all over the team's top five in many single season stats. His 2010, 2011 and 2012 seasons rank No. 5, No. 4 and No. 1 in franchise history. His yards in 2011 and 2012 rank No. 2 and No. 1 in franchise history and he holds the top three spots for single-season QB rating.
Ryan is making his mark on the Falcons franchise and the Atlanta community and his new deal guarantees that he'll be able to continue to draw up more wins, memorable moments and hopefully a few Super Bowl parades.