Falcons: Has Matt Ryan lost his ICE?


It did not take long for Matt Ryan to earn the nickname “Matty Ice” around Atlanta. From the opening snap of his rookie season, Ryan has entered the NFL as cool as they come. Over his career, that composure became the most evident in the fourth quarter, where Ryan led game-winning drive after game-winning drive. In 2012, he had a league-leading seven fourth-quarter comebacks, including the one that sealed his first ever playoff win in the Divisional round against the Seattle Seahawks (He would have had another had the refs not missed a pass interference on fourth down in the NFC Championship, and no I will not let that go). For the longest time, if Matt Ryan had the ball last, it was time to pack it in and go home; however, recently, that has been far from the case.

Now don’t get me wrong, since the start of 2016, Matt Ryan has been arguably the best quarterback in all of football. He’s playing at the highest level of his career and clearly turned the corner from good to great. That said, it is hard not to notice his inability to deliver in those clutch situations he used to make look like clockwork. Let’s take a look at all the games Matt Ryan has had the opportunity to ICE since 2017:

Falcons vs. Bills (2017)

Falcons trail 23-17 with just over three minutes to play.

Falcons are stopped on fourth-and-one in the red zone on an incomplete pass to Taylor Gabriel with 49 seconds remaining.

Falcons vs. Dolphins (2017)

Falcons trail 20-17 with just over two minutes to play. 

Matt Ryan is intercepted in the red zone with 47 seconds remaining.

Falcons vs. Jets (2017)

Falcons trail 17-16 early in the fourth quarter

Matt Ryan hits Mohamed Sanu for an eight-yard score. Falcons miss the two-point conversion to go up seven but hang on to win 25-20.

Falcons vs. Panthers (2017)

Falcons trail 20-17 with just over two minutes to play. 

Falcons fail to even get a first down and turn it over on downs.

Falcons vs Vikings (2017)

Vikings score on the first play of the fourth quarter to take a 14-9 lead.

Falcons are shut out the entire fourth quarter. Lose 14-9.

Falcons vs. Saints (2017)

Falcons take over with under eight minutes to play in the game tied at 17. 

Ryan leads a four-minute drive that results in a field goal. Falcons are able to seal the victory on a Deion Jones interception in the red zone.

Falcons vs. Eagles (2017)

Falcons trail Eagles 15-10 needing a touchdown to win. 

Ryan marches down the field to inside the 10-yard line but cannot punch it in the end zone, falling to the Eagles in the Divisional round.

Falcons vs. Eagles (2018)

Falcons trail Eagles 18-12 needing a touchdown to win. 

Literally, the exact same thing happened.

Falcons vs. Saints (2018)

In a back and forth thriller, the Saints have just tied the game up with 1:09 remaining in the game.

This is typically a situation Ryan would thrive in, especially against a defense he shredded all afternoon. Unfortunately, an incomplete pass to Mohamed Sanu forced the Falcons to punt and settle for overtime. New Orleans would win the toss, and the Falcons never had the opportunity to see the ball again.


As you can tell, there is a clear trend here. Matt Ryan has been nowhere near the quarterback we have come to expect when the game is on the line. Out of all nine of those situations, the Falcons only managed to win two of them, and those two were fourth-quarter comebacks that occurred before the final possession.

I am no psychologist, but I do not think it’s a coincidence this has been occurring after the infamous 28-3 Super Bowl blunder. This is not all Matt Ryan. There have been several times when he led the team down for the score, only for the defense to give one up in the other direction. The team, as a whole, has shrunk nearly every time a game has been on the line since that day. It is obvious there is a problem here, but if there is anyone who can break the funk, it is the man with the same amount of fourth-quarter comebacks as Joe Montana, Matty Ice.




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