Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan scored his first rushing touchdown of the season in Atlanta's 25-17 win over the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night, and he openly wondered after the game if his teammates were teasing him during the celebration.
According to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Ryan said: "I can't tell if they're laughing at me or just having a good time and excited for it, but they're always good when we get them and I think guys get fired up by it showing that there's different ways to get the job done."
Matty Ice isn't known for being fleet of foot, but with the Falcons trailing 14-6 in the second quarter, the Panthers left him a ton of running room on the right side and he took advantage with a 13-yard scoring scamper:
That set off a huge celebration among the Falcons players due in part to the fact that the score brought Atlanta within one point of the Panthers, but also likely because of the rarity of Ryan taking off and scoring with his legs.
Even with the 13 yards he gained on the carry, Ryan has only 58 yards on 19 attempts for the entire season for a per-carry average of just over three yards.
Ryan, 35, is in 13th NFL season, but the four-time Pro Bowler and one-time NFL MVP has only 10 career rushing touchdowns to his credit. In fact, Ryan didn't record a single rushing score in five straight seasons from 2013 to 2017.
While most of the quarterbacks who reach the NFL now are capable of beating opposing defenses with their arm and their legs, Ryan is a more a product of an era that favored classic dropback passers.
Ryan didn't have one of his best passing games Thursday, with 281 yards, no touchdowns and one interception, but he put the Falcons in scoring position throughout the game and ensured the offense remained efficient—Atlanta punted only one time.
With the much-needed win, the Falcons are now 2-6 on the season. They remain last in the NFC South by one game behind the Panthers, but perhaps Atlanta can finally start to build some momentum in what was beginning to look like a lost season.
Considering that Atlanta went 6-2 down the stretch last season after starting 1-7, there may still be hope for the Falcons to salvage 2020.