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Atlanta Falcons 2016-17 season recap
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Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan (2) celebrates with tackle Ryan Schraeder (73) after a touchdown Jan. 1 against New Orleans.

Buccaneers 31, Falcons 24

Jameis Winston threw four touchdown passes for the second time in his young career as Tampa Bay won the season opener at the Georgia Dome. “We had four trips into the red zone and came away with one touchdown,” Matt Ryan said. “We’ve got to be much better.”

Falcons 36, Raiders 28

On a day dominated by the offenses, a fortunate bounce was the difference. Justin Hardy caught a deflected 8-yard touchdown pass to break a tie midway through the fourth quarter and Atlanta held on at Oakland. “Sometimes you need a little luck, right?” said Ryan, who threw for 396 yards and three TDs.

Falcons 45, Saints 32

Tevin Coleman rushed for three touchdowns, Matt Ryan passed for two TDs and Deion Jones returned an interception 90 yards for a score as Atlanta took over first place in the NFC South. Devonta Freeman rushed for 152 yards and caught five passes for 55 yards.

Falcons 48, Panthers 33

Matt Ryan shredded Carolina’s defense, passing for a team record 503 yards and four touchdowns, and Julio Jones had 12 receptions for a Falcons record 300 yards. “We got Julio the ball in space, and when he has the ball in space, he’s so explosive,” Ryan said.

Falcons 23, Broncos 16

The Falcons deciphered Denver’s dazzling defense and snapped the Super Bowl champs’ nine-game winning streak with a dominant performance in Denver. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman combined for 119 yards rushing.

Seahawks 26, Falcons 24

Steven Hauschka’s 44-yard field goal with 1:57 remaining capped a fourth quarter comeback as Seattle pulled out a win at home after Matt Ryan blitzed the Seahawks for 21 third-quarter points. The Falcons’ late rally stalled when Richard Sherman broke up a long pass to Julio Jones on which the Falcons screamed for a pass interference flag. “It was just a missed call. It’s over with. It’s done. We’re onto the next one,” Jones said.

Chargers 33, Falcons 30

Josh Lambo’s 42-yard field goal in overtime gave San Diego its first road victory of the year, as the Chargers rallied from a 17-point deficit at the Georgia Dome. A fourth-and-1 stop on running back Devonta Freeman gave San Diego the ball at Atlanta’s 43 for the Chargers’ winning drive. “Just a gut feeling I had,” Coach Dan Quinn said of the fourth-down decision.

Falcons 33, Packers 32

Matt Ryan threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu with 31 seconds remaining to beat Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay. The Falcons (5-3) snapped a two-game losing streak, driving 75 yards for the winning score after Rodgers put the Packers ahead with his fourth TD pass.

Falcons 43, Buccaneers 28

Matt Ryan threw for 344 yards and four touchdowns, helping Atlanta tighten its grip on first place in the NFC South at Tampa. Julio Jones had eight receptions for 111 yards and a TD as the Falcons (6-3) avenged a season-opening loss to the Bucs (3-5).

Eagles 24, Falcons 15

Ryan Mathews ran for 108 yards and two touchdowns and a tenacious defense held down the league’s highest-scoring offense at Philadelphia. Matt Ryan threw a 76-yard touchdown pass to Taylor Gabriel in the fourth quarter to give Atlanta (6-4) a 15-13 lead, but Philadelphia answered.

Falcons 38, Cardinals 19

Taylor Gabriel turned a couple of short passes into long touchdowns that sparked the Falcons at the Dome. The 5-foot-8, 165-pound Gabriel scored on plays of 35 and 25 yards that showed off his speed. “I felt like they were running in slow motion,” Gabriel quipped. The Falcons (7-4) began the day leading the NFC South and moved closer to their first playoff berth since 2012.

Chiefs 29, Falcons 28

Eric Berry returned an interception for a touchdown, then brought back another pick for a 2-point conversion that gave Kansas City an improbable victory. The Falcons rallied from a 27-16 deficit to go ahead 28-27 on Matt Ryan’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Aldrick Robinson with 4:32 remaining. Atlanta decided to go for 2, but Berry stepped in front of Ryan’s pass and ran 99 yards the other way.

Falcons 42, Rams 14

Ryan passed for 237 yards and three touchdowns and Atlanta forced five turnovers in its return to Los Angeles. Deion Jones returned an interception 33 yards for a touchdown, and Vic Beasley forced a fumble by Jared Goff and returned it for another TD as Atlanta opened up a 42-point lead in the third quarter and stayed atop the NFC South.

Falcons 41, 49ers 13

Devonta Freeman rushed for 139 yards and three touchdowns, clinching Atlanta’s first winning season since 2012. Matt Ryan completed 17 of 23 passes for 286 yards, including a pair of 9-yard scoring tosses to Taylor Gabriel and Austin Hoope. “When you get into December football, you better do that,” coach Dan Quinn said.

Falcons 33, Panthers 16

Matt Ryan threw for 277 yards and two touchdowns, Tevin Coleman had 135 yards from scrimmage, including a pivotal 55-yard fourth-quarter TD run, and the Falcons wrapped up the division title thanks to Tampa Bay’s loss later on Christmas Eve at New Orleans. A few straggling Falcons fans chanted “MVP!” at Ryan in the game’s closing minutes while most Panthers fans had already headed for the exits.

Falcons 38, Saints 32

Matt Ryan trotted off the field to chants of “MVP! MVP! MVP!” after throwing four touchdown passes to secure the No. 2 playoff seed and first-round 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.

Division Playoffs: Falcons 36, Seahawks 20

Matt Ryan looked very much like an MVP, sending Atlanta to the NFC championship game. Ryan threw for 338 yards and three touchdowns. After the Seahawks zipped down the field for a touchdown on the opening possession, Atlanta’s young defense largely shut down Russell Wilson & Co. the rest of the way. Ryan and the high-scoring Falcons took it from there.

Before a foot injury limited him in the second half, Julio Jones was targeted eight times, coming up with six receptions for 67 yards to set a tone that Atlanta would not be intimidated by the Legion of Boom. “I think we executed really well across the board,” said Ryan.

NFC Championship: Falcons 44, Packers 21

With another MVP-worthy performance and plenty of help from Julio Jones, Matt Ryan  guided the Falcons past Green Bay and into the Super Bowl. Ryan threw for 392 yards and four touchdowns, but it was his 14-yard scoring run — his first TD on the ground since 2012 — that set the tone. Jones finished off the Packers with a 73-yard catch-and-run on Atlanta’s second snap of the second half, pushing the lead to 31-0 and essentially turning the rest of the Georgia Dome finale into one long celebration.

“He’s a beast,” Ryan said. Jones finished with nine catches for 180 yards and two scores, which included a toe-dragging catch for a 5-yard touchdown with 3 seconds left in the first half, sending the Falcons to the locker room up 24-0. 

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