The Atlanta Falcons turned the page on the their post-Michael Vick struggles when they selected Matt Ryan with the third overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft. In that time the franchise has won 22 games and positioned themselves as a contender in the NFC.
After last week's thrilling overtime victory over the Saints, it got me thinking about the most exciting games we have seen the Falcons play over the past two-plus seasons. Let's take a trip down memory lane as we revisit the five most exciting Falcons games of the Matt Ryan era.
2009 Week 12
Atlanta 20, Tampa Bay 17
This one is more of the Chris Redman era but I included it anyway. Matt Ryan left in the first quarter and Redman led the Falcons to 10 unanswered points finishing with the game-winning touchdown pass to Roddy White with only 23 seconds remaining. This game stopped a brutal slide that saw the Falcons slip from 4-1 to 5-5.
2008 Week 14
Atlanta 25, New Orleans 29
I know it seems bizarre to include a game the Falcons lost but it's important to remember how they struggled to get over the hump against their southern rival.
After a Matt Ryan rushing touchdown - and Michael Jenkins two-point conversion - gave the Falcons a three point lead with about five minutes remaining, the defense was unable to stop the last drive which saw Pierre Thomas seal the win for the Saints. Roddy White went crazy, rolling up 164 yards receiving, and this game added another classic chapter between these two rivals.
2008 Week 15
Atlanta 13, Tampa Bay 10
The second theee-point Buccaneer win makes the list. Why do the Falcons struggle with this team? Michael Turner destroyed the Bucs defense for 152 yards and Jason Elam kicked the game winner in overtime. Curiously, Matt Bryant was the Buccaneers kicker in this one.
2008 Week 6
Atlanta 22, Chicago 20
We all remember this one. It's the one game Michael Jenkins' supporters point to as evidence for his clutchness. The Falcons blew a 19-10 lead and the Bears' Kyle Orton found Rashied Davis with 11 seconds left giving the Bears a sure victory. Right?
Not when there's Matty Ice in the building. Harry Douglas returned the ensuing kickoff to the Falcons' 44-yard line and Ryan found Jenkins for a 26-yard gain. Jenkins made the catch and got out of bounds - stopping the clock with one second remaining. Jason Elam completed the improbable sequence by nailing a 48-yarder to win the game. Bedlam in the Georgia Dome.
2010 Week 3
Atlanta 27, New Orleans 24
Now we have a new number one. The most exciting Falcons game in the Matt Ryan era was played last week. A thrilling tug-o-war between two teams that were up to the challenge. Four lead changes, missed field goals, fourth down conversions and a lot of bad blood makes this the number one on the list and I can't wait to see what Week 16 will bring.