Matt Ryan got the monkey off of his back, but it wasn't as easy as fans may have hoped. Through Ryan's 5 years in the league, he has been shunned of a playoff victory, and it hasn't been pretty throughout the ride. From a 2 point performance in 2011, to an awful letdown in 2010, Atlanta fans everywhere have been on Ryan's back the whole way. This time was different, however.
The first half cruised by almost instantly. Ryan was almost perfect leading his team to a huge 20 point lead. He connected with Tony Gonzalez multiple times, and gave his team what we thought would be momentum.
Russell Wilson had other plans.
The Rookie phenom put together an almost perfect 2nd half and in the 4th quarter and pieces started coming together. At the 13:01 mark in the 4th, with Seattle down by 20, Wilson led a monumental drive capped by a 1 yard TD scamper.
After Earl Thomas came over the top and picked off Matty Ice the next drive, Wilson hit a few bombs and set them up at the 38 yard line. Robert Turbin would put fuel on the fire as he excelled to the 3 yard line off of a check-down pass from Wilson.
Having a huge game, Zach Miller would catch a 3 yard TD pass on a pretty floater from Wilson. The lead was cut to 6 points, and the Seahawks started to see things shift in their momentum.
Matt Ryan got two chances to "ice" the game and send his team home, but he failed to sustain a drive that would end it. He gave Russell Wilson the ball back, and THAT was a mistake.
A few bombs and creative plays later, Russell Wilson made a very Wilson-esq play. With 34 seconds left, he scampered around the backfield and dumped off a perfect strike to Marshawn Lynch that landed the Seahawks at the 4 yard line. A play later, Lynch barrelled his way into the end zone, and Ryan Longwell made the extra point to give the underdogs a 1-point edge.
That monkey was getting a whole lot heavier on Ryan's back. He had 25 seconds to set up Matt Bryant for a 49 yard field goal.
He did just that.
Bryant booted the FG right through the uprights and officially removed every bit of pressure away from his QB.
Advancing to the NFC Championship Game, Atlanta will have a tough task going up against a Colin Kaepernick-led 49er team. Even though they will be at the Georgia Dome, it is concerning that they let up 28 points to Wilson and the Seahawks.