Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons shocked the New York Giants 34-0 on Sunday. Ryan was near perfection in the win with a passer rating of 142.6 and three touchdowns. Ryan not only controlled the tempo of the game but made big time plays on a big time stage.
So logic would state that Matt Ryan's name would move back into MVP discussions... Right?
Not so much.
NFL's Best Trio
Roddy White and Julio Jones have been making their case for the best wide receiver tandem in the NFL. White has compiled 1,156 yards on 79 catches this season. Jones is not far behind with 1,071 yards with his 69 receptions. Jones is also tied for fifth in the NFL with nine catches for a touchdown.
Meanwhile, Tony Gonzalez is having a monster year. Despite retirement talk, Gonzalez is still the best tight end in all of football. His 87 catches for 880 yards trails only Dallas Cowboys standout Jason Witten (97-for-923). Gonzalez's eight touchdown receptions trails only Rob Gronkowski (10). Gonzalez's willingness to block rounds out the total package.
No other team in the NFL can boast a trinity of clutch hands like the Falcons can. All three made crucial plays during the Falcons' offensive domination of the Giants. Jones is the best example. On both of his touchdown receptions, a Giants defender was affecting one of his arms. On the second touchdown one arm was hindered, and on the first it was held. Still, Jones hauled both in with his free arm.
MVP voters might begin to focus on the talent surrounding Ryan rather than Ryan's accomplishments. For example, they might focus on Jones' great catches instead of the fact that Ryan placed both passes perfectly. An argument that others have done more with less could be made.
Bad Games Make Better Case
Matt Ryan's bid for NFL MVP is more solidified by bad games than dominant ones. If voters analyzed the rough spots, they would find Ryan's most compelling arguments.
On the surface, the Falcons' narrow victory over the Arizona Cardinals looks like a five interception stinker. On closer inspection, one finds that Ryan managed to put his woes behind him and lead the Falcons to a fourth quarter win.
Though the Falcons would lose in their first meeting with the New Orleans Saints, Ryan played potentially his best game of the season. Down by four in the final minutes, Ryan threw perfectly placed balls to both Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez that went incomplete.
Yet Ryan's best argument might come from the Falcons' worst game. The Carolina Panthers stymied the Falcons for two-and-a-half quarters on the way to a 30-20 beatdown. Yet here is where Ryan set himself apart. Unlike the self-anointed elite Eli Manning, Ryan took over the last quarter and a half. Ryan put 20 points on the board. While too little too late, Ryan's attempt to will the Falcons to victory might solidify his chances.
Giants Win Giant Eye-Opener
In the end, Ryan might be undone by a single fact revealed in the win over the Giants. The Atlanta Falcons, as a whole, are a good team. This is not, and most likely never will be, a one-man show.