Mark Bradley

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A rousing Falcons win, but what's the deal with Ryan?


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These short takes are presented as a companion to the Falcons-Eagles game column, which can be found here. The Falcons won 26-24 after blowing a 20-3 lead.

1. I hate to start with a negative, but Matt Ryan is becoming a really weird quarterback. His good moments are many and splendid: He completed 23 of 34 passes for 298 yards and two touchdowns, and his deep throw to Julio Jones after the Falcons had fallen behind 24-23 changed a game going wrong. But two Ryan interceptions earlier -- one in the end zone, another that gave the Eagles possession at the Atlanta 8 -- changed a game going right into a hairbreadth thing. The same happened last season, more than once. (The throw-to-nowhere at Wembley against the Lions was the most glaring example, but it wasn't the only one.) He's so precise with most of his throws that you'd swear he has a metronome for a right arm, and then ... out of nowhere, he throws the ball to the other team and makes you go, "What was THAT?"

2. OK, to the positives: The defense made a play to win the game. Haven't seen that very often lately, have we? The Falcons could have iced the game with one first down. They went three-and-out. (Three runs, though coach Dan Quinn said afterward there was a pass option to the third-and-1 call.) The Eagles took the ball with at their 14 with 1:49 remaining, and I have to admit: I fully expected them to win on a field goal at the gun, same as Detroit had done in London, same as Cleveland did here last year. But no. Linebacker Paul Worrilow slammed into Jordan Matthews just after the receiver had bobbled Sam Bradford's pass, and Ricardo Allen made a sliding interception on the deflection. An actual stop! With the game on the line! It's a miracle!

3. Julio Jones was the best player on the field. That has happened before, but never has he been any better than this. He was targeted 11 times. He caught nine passes. (Byron Maxwell broke up one of the incompletions.) He gained 141 yards. He caught two touchdown passes. (The Falcons would score only two touchdowns.) Jones wasn't just getting open; he was getting open with disdain. The Eagles couldn't stop him, and he knew it. Somebody give that man a new contract! (Just kidding. The Falcons already did.)

The thrill of victory, I do believe it's called. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)


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About the Author

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has been with the AJC since 1984.