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Atlanta Falcons

Matt Ryan’s thumb is fine, and the Falcons are flying high

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) delivers a pass during the NFL game between the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire)
Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire

Good thing Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is right handed. After being sacked by New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Nick Fairley in the fourth quarter of Monday’s 45-32 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Ryan had to get his hand checked out by athletic trainers. It was found out that the Falcons QB had injured the thumb on his non-throwing hand, but fortunately, he told ESPN’s Vaughn McClure that he’s doing just fine.

“I took a hit on it in the game, but I’m fine,” Ryan said. “Put a glove on just to make sure I’d get a good grip afterwards. But I’m fine. I feel pretty good.”

There’s little reason to be surprised that Ryan shrugged off the injury, as he’s missed just two games in his entire career, with those coming back during the 2009 season. To go along with that, Ryan has kicked off the 2016 season by producing possibly the best start through three games of his entire career, completing 70.9 percent of his passes for 970 yards, seven touchdowns and just one interception.

And it truly couldn’t come at a better time than it has.

The 2015 season was a bag of mixed results for Ryan. His final numbers weren’t great, as he threw just 21 touchdowns against 16 interceptions. He also struggled in late-game situations, throwing numerous interceptions in positions where the Falcons could have won the game. All of that is in the past, though, and Ryan looks like a new man leading this Falcons offense, which currently leads the NFL in points per game at 34.7.

Best of all, the first-place Falcons (very few expected that) have an offense that’s clicking on all cylinders. Head coach Dan Quinn and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan seem to have found the perfect mix of touches for their dynamic running back duo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.

While there was a whole lot to take away from Atlanta’s victory in the Superdome last night, possibly nothing was more impressive than the fact that the Falcons defeated their biggest rival with star wideout Julio Jones catching just one pass for 16 yards. If Jones had a one-catch night back in 2015, it’s a safe bet that the outcome would have looked just a bit different.

The Falcons defense isn’t great, and it needs work, but their offense may be more than capable enough of covering for them. Through these first three games, the Falcons are not only leading the league in points per game, but also in total yards per game at 448, and rank No. 4 in passing yards per game at 312, while sitting at No. 5 in rushing with 136 yards per game.

Can the Falcons hold off the Carolina Panthers in the NFC South? It’s going to be a fun ride to watch, and fortunately, fans will get to see what this Falcons group is really made of, as they draw the Panthers in Week 4 at home. Carolina is also coming off a 22-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in which Cam Newton was sacked eight times, while also throwing three interceptions.

Get ready, Falcons fans, because your biggest test yet is on the horizon.

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