And it's because the Atlanta Falcons got a relieving victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 11. For the game, though, Ryan tossed five interceptions to zero touchdowns and was constantly under pressure all day.
However, the Dirty Birds still managed to pull out a win, which instills even more confidence for Mike Smith's team—as it should for the fans. To that end, let's break down why this dud game of Ryan won't demoralize the Falcons of 2012.
Defense Carried and Stepped Up
Because the offense turned the ball over six times, the Falcons defense had to really pick up the slack.
Well Thomas DeCoud and Co. did all that and more.
Even with the six additional possessions, the Arizona Cardinals still gained a mere 178 total yards and recorded just seven first downs. Obviously part of that is certainly attributed to Arizona starting multiple possessions in Atlanta territory.
Nevertheless, Atlanta halted the Cardinals' potential onslaught and forced Jay Feely to attempt four field goals.
Replace even one of those with a touchdown and the Falcons don't win this game. Factor in solid quarterback pressure and holding Arizona to 2-of-16 on third down and this was an impressive performance from the Dirty Birds.
Excluding the Turnovers...
On the day Ryan finished 28-of-46 for 301 yards, which equates to a 60.8 completion percentage.
When you consider that he threw five interceptions but still hit above the 60 percent mark, Ryan actually could have played worse. Atlanta's running game was virtually non-existent outside of Michael Turner's score, because the Falcons gained only 58 yards on 24 carries.
Averaging a measly 2.4 yards per attempt, the offense could only move the ball if Ryan kept airing it out. Well, turnovers aside, the Falcons did go 7-of-16 on third down and penalties were minimized.
So in reality, Ryan didn't perform ungodly terrible when you exclude the turnovers. Atlanta collected 20 first downs, won the time of possession battle by more than five minutes and threw the rock 65 percent of the time.
Had Ryan played even remotely better, this game isn't close.
What Remaining Schedule Will Prove
The only concern here is the Falcons' inability to stop the run.
Atlanta gives up an average of five yards per carry and 130.5 on the ground per game. Squaring off against run-oriented offenses such as Tampa Bay, San Francisco and Chicago will be even tougher if the Falcons continue to fail in the trenches.
Not to mention the Cardinals compiled 137 rushing yards with literally no help from their passing game. Make no mistake about the Falcons' potential to win the NFC, but a game like this from Ryan in the playoffs with a defense that cannot stop the run will not be enough to last in January.
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