He’s home again: Ryan leads Falcons to Philly
Quarterback Matt Ryan has another shot at a happy homecoming.
A berth in the NFC championship game is at stake when Ryan leads the Atlanta Falcons (11-6) against the Philadelphia Eagles (13-3) in a divisional playoff today. Ryan, who grew up rooting for the Eagles and went to Philadelphia’s William Penn Charter School, is 1-3 at the Linc.
“I’m used to it now,” Ryan said about returning home. “Playing as long as I have, I understand regardless of where we play you have to be at your best every week. The one nice part is there will be a lot of familiar faces, friendly faces after the game, which is always nice.”
Ryan had his worst game of his MVP season last year in Atlanta’s 24-15 loss in Philly on Nov. 13, 2016. He was 18 of 33 for 267 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
“Obviously, there will be some scheme from that game that we’ll take, what went well and what didn’t go well and try to improve on that,” Ryan said. “We’re a different team than we were last year when we played them and they’re a different team. It will be some carry over, but it will be a little bit different.”
Here’s some things to watch for when the teams meet in the playoffs for the first time since Philadelphia’s win over Michael Vick’s Falcons in the 2005 NFC championship game:
Nick Foles makes his fourth start since replacing Carson Wentz after the MVP candidate tore his ACL in Week 14. Foles played well in his first five quarters and struggled in the next five. He’s certainly a dropoff from Wentz, but he’s also capable of spectacular performances. Wentz once tossed seven TDs in a game in 2013. He had four TDs in his first start in Week 15.
“There’s enough substance behind his career that merits having confidence,” Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich said.
There’s crowd noise, and then there’s the noise generated by Philadelphia fans known for their intensity.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn seemed to search for a polite term to compare Eagles fans with the fans the team heard in last week’s wild-card win at the Los Angeles Rams.
“I’m not going to say more passionate, but I would say more Northeast,” Quinn said with a smile.