FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Matt Ryan’s poise under pressure has produced 25 fourth-quarter comebacks, a “Matty Ice” nickname and his first All-Pro selection.
The Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback also is a leading MVP candidate .
The glaring void on Ryan’s resume is his 1-4 postseason record. At 31, Ryan may not have many more chances to change his reputation as a quarterback who comes up short in the playoffs.
Ryan’s only playoff win came against Seattle after the 2012 regular season, and he’ll have another shot at the Seahawks in Saturday’s NFC divisional round game.
Ryan said Tuesday he has never been better prepared for the playoffs.
“I feel like as you get experience throughout your career, you try to learn from all of it and you try to use it to make you better,” Ryan said. “I feel like I’ve done that throughout my career. Both positive and negative, I’ve learned from all of those experiences and ... I feel like I’m just playing my best and playing better than I ever have.”
No matter his stats, Ryan ultimately will be judged by his team’s success. The Falcons led the NFL in scoring while winning the NFC South, but a loss in their playoff opener would lead some critics to conclude they were just another regular-season fad that was not built for the postseason.
A loss also would leave an even larger void on Ryan’s record.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn said he talked with Ryan about the extra playoff pressure placed on the quarterback.
Quinn said this is a different Ryan than the one who lost to the 49ers in the NFC championship game after the 2012 season and also suffered one-and-done playoff losses to Arizona in his 1998 rookie season, to Green Bay in 2010 and to the Giants in 2011.
Quinn believes Ryan is ready for postseason success.
“For him I think you can’t truly be relentless until you’ve been right close to it and you didn’t get it,” Quinn said Tuesday. “I know from my experience you learn so much from a loss and what you gain from it. What I can tell you is Matt’s a far different quarterback today than he was a few years ago.”
Quinn said Ryan’s “ability to attack, his ability to be ready” in this season’s offense “has nothing to do with” past playoff failures.
Ryan said he doesn’t dwell on past playoff letdowns.
“I don’t worry about it too much,” he said. “One thing I’ve learned throughout my career is if you spend time worrying about that, you’re not spending time worrying about the things that are going to make a difference on Sunday.”
The approach is working for Ryan. He had a career-high 38 touchdown passes and a low with only seven interceptions this season. He finished second in the league in TD passes and yards passing. His 117.1 passer rating leads the NFL.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Ryan’s success following a startling dip in production in 2015 is a natural progression for his second season with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. The success has made Shanahan a target for at least four teams looking for head coaches.
“The word we use is chemistry between throwers and catchers,” Carroll said in a telephone interview. “There really is a lot to that. You can see just the benefit of the years together and the benefit of being in the same scheme for two years.”
Carroll said the Falcons offense led by Ryan is “as good as you can get.”
Ryan wouldn’t say if this offense will be a better fit for the postseason.
“I know this team that we’re a part of right now,” Ryan said. “We’re good enough to get the job done every week. I really feel that way. We just need to continue to do the same things we’ve done up to this point.”