The knee-jerk reaction isn’t to include Matt Ryan among the NFL’s best all-time quarterbacks. And though that’s prevailing opinion, considering the lack of team success, the career numbers he’s put up are making quite a case for inclusion.
Ryan became only the 10th quarterback in league history to reach 350 career touchdown passes. The milestone came when he connected with Olamide Zaccheaus on a 4-yard score in the second quarter Sunday against the New York Giants.
That touchdown gave the Falcons (1-2) a 7-6 lead. Ryan would throw for 243 yards and two scores. The second TD, a 1-yarder to Lee Smith with 4:13 left, helped tie the game at 14-14.
Ryan also led the drive that resulted in Younghoe Koo’s 40-yard field goal as time expired for a 17-14 victory.
"We're going to win this game," Ryan said. "All you have to do is your job."
That extended Ryan’s franchise record to 39 career game-winning drives. The latest gave coach Arthur Smith his first win.
Zaccheaus’ touchdown was his first of the season. The third-year pro took a bigger role Sunday due to Russell Gage (ankle) missing the game due.
The 350-touchdown club, going into Sunday, included Tom Brady (590), Drew Brees (571), Peyton Manning (539), Brett Favre (508), Philip Rivers (421), Dan Marino (420), Aaron Rodgers (416), Ben Rothlisberger (398) and Eli Manning (366). Brady, Rodgers and Rothlisberger are, of course, still active.
Of those 10 with 350, only Ryan, Rivers and Marino don’t own a Super Bowl win. That’s the big hole on Ryan’s current resume, and it’s not likely to change in the next few years.
But the numbers can’t be ignored. Ryan already owns the NFL for most passing yards through a player’s first 14 seasons, and he’s ninth on the all-time list. There’s a solid chance he gets into the top five.
That’s Hall-of-Fame worthy. That’s an all-time great.