HOUSTON — Matt Ryan said he reached out to and heard from a number of other Super Bowl quarterbacks in the week since he became one. They all offered some sort of encouragement and advice to him, whether it was about handling ticket requests, the long halftime or the inevitable pregame jitters.
But what Ryan called “the best advice” he got came from the only quarterback ever to beat the Patriots of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in a Super Bowl. In fact, he did it twice.
The Giants’ Eli Manning texted Ryan, the Falcons quarterback said Monday as he was ushered into the fold with the rite of passage that has become the NFL’s Super Bowl Opening Night.
“I’ve gotten to know Eli throughout the years and he’s a great guy,” Ryan said. “His advice was: ‘You guys know yourselves and you know what you do.’ At the end of the day, I think that’s probably the best advice you can get, to trust what we do and trust our process, who we are and how we do things.”
That can be a difficult task when you are asked to walk out on a stage like a rock star, complete with smoke machines and blaring music, in front of thousands of screaming fans at a Houston baseball stadium that has been converted into a cathedral of football excess.
And when you sit in a chair in front of dozens of cameras and hundreds of reporters asking questions about everything from the Patriots’ defense to what his go-to karaoke song is.
“It’s cool,” Ryan said. “It’s unlike anything I’ve ever been a part of.”
And that was after the first three minutes!
Ryan said that once all of the hoopla is out of the way, he and his team will really be able to zero in on Manning’s words of wisdom. The Falcons’ media obligations will be over Thursday.
“After that, we’ll get into our normal routine and make sure we’re ready to go on Sunday,” he said. “Obviously, we’re glad to have this opportunity to be on this stage.”
Ryan is making his Super Bowl debut at a rather ripe age for a quarterback of his stature. He’s 31 years old, in his ninth season. He’s been a consistent player throughout all those years and has racked up a number of impressive stats. Now he’s one win away from filling the void in his resume.
How big would that be? Former quarterback Trent Green said it can be the difference between greatness and immortality.
“The fact that he can build to those Hall of Fame credentials that I think he is putting together,” Green said on “NFL Monday QB” on CBS Sports Network, “he can put himself in a position to wear a jacket one day.”
Legacy is not what Ryan is thinking about, though.
“I understand as a quarterback we are judged by postseason success, et cetera, but it’s about winning this one game,” Ryan said.
And following Manning’s advice, as well as his lead.
“He made some spectacular plays down the stretch,” Ryan said when asked what in particular he recalled of Manning’s two Super Bowl performances against the Patriots. “He just played good football throughout the game, and when opportunities were there to make plays, he made them. He’s certainly done a great job of that throughout his career, but specifically in those games, I mean, he did a great job with that.”
Ryan thinks he will as well.
“At the end of the day, it comes down to making plays,” he said. “Going out and competing and converting third downs and scoring touchdowns. We’ve done that all year and I feel like we’ll be ready to do that.”
After a subpar 2015 season, Matt Ryan moved into elite territory among NFL QBs in 2016:
66.3 Comp. Pct. 69.9
4,591 Yards 4,944
21 TD Passes 38
16 Interceptions 7
89.0 QB Rating 117.1