Matt Ryan bolsters MVP bid, leads Falcons past Saints 38-32 (Jan 01, 2017)
ATLANTA (AP) Matt Ryan bolstered his MVP credentials with a brilliant first half Sunday, throwing four touchdown passes to lead the Atlanta Falcons to a 38-32 victory over the New Orleans Saints, securing a first-round playoff bye.
Ryan was 17 of 19 for 235 yards by halftime, directing the Falcons (11-5) to touchdowns on all five possessions and a commanding 35-13 lead. He finished 27 of 36 for 331 yards, leaving him with a franchise-record 4,944 yards, 38 touchdowns and just seven interceptions this season.
Atlanta is seeded second in the NFC to Dallas.
The Saints (7-9) came into the regular-season finale looking to finish another disappointing season with a three-game winning streak and avoid a third straight losing mark. But they were blitzed early and often by the league’s highest-scoring offense.
Atlanta piled up 323 yards in the first two quarters, and also benefited from a 46-yard pass interference penalty against Roman Harper. Ryan threw scoring passes of 7 yards to Tevin Coleman, 1 yard to Julio Jones, 10 yards to Mohamed Sanu and 7 yards to Justin Hardy.
Devonta Freeman ripped off a 75-yard touchdown run and also hauled in three passes for 55 yards as the Falcons put on a dazzling offensive display.
The second half was essentially a chance for Atlanta fans to serenade Ryan with chants of ”MVP! MVP! MVP!” every time he was…