Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (L) and Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (R) hug after their NFC Wild Card Playoff Game at the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles on January 6, 2018. Photo by Jon SooHoo/UPI | License Photo
The Atlanta Falcons have heard the familiar refrain from the moment they let a 25-point lead evaporate in Super Bowl LI.
The best way to quiet the noise, however, is to turn up the intensity in the playoffs, as they did in Saturday's 26-13 win over the Rams in their NFC wild-card game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Matt Ryan completed 21 of 30 passes for 218 yards with a fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Julio Jones to effectively seal the win. Jones ended up with nine catches for 94 yards while fellow wideout Mohamed Sanu worked the middle for four receptions for 75 yards.
"We're not here just to get here," the 32-year-old Ryan said. "We want to make noise while we're here, so this is what it's all about, it's about giving yourself the opportunity this time of the year to compete and play in games like this and win games like this."
Ryan came up big in the fourth quarter on Saturday. Last season's NFL Most Valuable Player found Sanu on a short flip, with the latter doing the rest by racing down field for a 52-yard reception. Two plays later, Ryan faked a handoff to running back Devonta Freeman and lofted a ball that Jones reeled in for an 8-yard scoring catch to give the Falcons a 26-13 lead with 5:48 left.
"The conditions were slick for sure. I slipped a couple of times, but on the touchdown to Julio, we were kind of running a keeper coming out the backside of that," Ryan said. "(Outside linebacker) Connor Barwin was up the field so I had to stop, didn't stop probably as gracefully as I liked. Kept my feet, which was good, tried to give Julio an opportunity towards the front pylon. He made a great adjustment, usually we try to drive those throws in there, but to adjust and go over the top is nice. It was a huge play for us."
For Ryan, Quinn and the sixth-seeded Falcons to redeem themselves from last season's crushing loss in the Super Bowl, they'll need a similar strong effort versus the top-seeded Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday.
"Yeah, it's always good to go back and play there for sure," said Ryan, who hails from Exton, Pa. "Obviously, family and friends, it's great to see them, but it doesn't matter where we go this time of the year. We're just excited to be going and to still have the opportunity to keep playing."