With the playoffs around the corner and the Falcons having known they're headed there for a few weeks now, one major discussion point for the Atlanta locker room has been about entering the playoffs playing their best football. After a big win over New Orleans in Week 13, the Falcons followed up with a flat effort in a loss to Carolina. In the two games since, the Falcons have been dominant and look like a team getting hot at just the right time.
Leading the way in their recent two big wins has been quarterback Matt Ryan. In back-to-back games, he's posted a near-flawless 142.6 passer rating in each game, the second highest mark of his career. Strengthened by those two games, he's on pace to become just the second QB in franchise history to finish a season with a QB rating above 100.
Working with outstanding pass protection from his offensive line, Ryan has run the offense with ease, tossing three and four touchdowns in each game while remaining economical with his passes. Falcons head coach Mike Smith said on Sunday Ryan is playing about as good as he's ever seen him play.
"I think Matt played the last two weeks his best back-to-back games," Smith said. "He was very efficient. Against New York he was seeing the field very well. He got into a rhythm and I thought his pocket presence was very good. He also was able to distribute the ball to the different receivers."
Ryan's four TD passes against Detroit tied a career high and gave him 31 this season, tying Steve Bartkowski for the highest single-season mark in Falcons history. It was the 18th game of his career with three-or-more touchdowns and the seventh of the 2012 season. Ryan is 17-1 in games when he throws three touchdowns or more, putting him at second place all time in games with three-plus TD passes.
In closing out the Giants, Ryan connected on his final ten passes and carried that streak into Detroit. He hit his receivers on his first 12 passes against the Lions before his first incomplete pass. The streak of 22 straight completions is the tied for third-longest in NFL history. Ryan averaged 274.5 yards passing over the last two games, not mind-blowing numbers, but his effectiveness within the offense was really evident by the way he was able to move the ball. In the last two games he's thrown ten passes that went for 15 yards or more, including five that went for 35 yards or more. On ten of his 15-yards-or-longer passes, he scored a touchdown on four of them.
Ryan is completing 80 percent of his passes over the last two weeks with zero interceptions. Atlanta's 26.8 points per game this season is the fifth highest in the league.