Johnson sets record, but Ryan stands tall
December, 22, 2012
By ESPN Stats & Information | ESPN.com
Gregory Shamus/Getty ImagesMatt Ryan has been on his game all season for the Falcons.Matt Ryan was plenty at home on the road on Saturday night, and now his reward is home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
Calvin Johnson garnered most of the attention by breaking Jerry Rice’s single-season record for receiving yardage but Ryan’s near-record performance produced a very important win over the Detroit Lions.
This marked the third time that the Atlanta Falcons have won at least 13 games in a season (they also did so in 1998 and 2010) and the first time that they’ve ever won three straight games against the Lions.
Let’s take a closer look at the numbers behind this game:
Ryan dominates start and finish
Ryan completed 12 straight passes to open the game. Combine that with the 10 straight completions that he had to end his last game and he wound up with a 22-completion streak, two shy of the NFL record set by Donovan McNabb in 2004.
The second of two first-half touchdowns that Ryan threw to Roddy White came on a screen pass. It was Ryan’s NFL-best sixth screen-pass touchdown this season.
Ryan tied his career-high for touchdown throws in a game with four and matched the team’s single-season record for touchdown passes (31), set by Steve Bartkowski when he threw in 1980, with his fourth-quarter touchdown throw to Michael Palmer.
Ryan has three of the top five seasons for touchdown throws in Falcons history.
The strength of Ryan’s game on Saturday was his work on play-action. He was 7-for-7 for 109 yards and three touchdowns on play-action throws. The three play-action touchdown throws was a career-best.
Ryan entered the game with a 71 percent completion rate on play-action this season, third-best in the NFL.
He only made three off-target throws (passes either underthrown or overthrown) all game.
That’s a good number for Ryan, who entered with an off-target rate of only 14 percent this season, best in the NFL. In each of the previous four seasons, he rated no higher than 16th-best.
And for those who point to Ryan as being a quarterback who is only good at home, consider this stat. He had a Total QBR of 67 or higher in all eight of his road games in 2012, including a 96.7 in this contest.
Rice’s record wasn’t the only mark that Johnson broke or matched in this game.
Johnson broke the NFL record for most consecutive 100-yard receiving games with his eighth straight by halftime.
He also matched Michael Irvin's 1995 record with his 11th game this season with at least 100 receiving yards.
This was Johnson’s fourth straight game with at least 10 catches. He’s the first player in NFL history with a streak that long.
Johnson finished with 225 receiving yards, the second-most he's had in any regular-season game in his career, with 100 yards (his most in the a game in the last five seasons) coming after the catch.
Johnson's four games with at least 200 receiving yards are one shy of the NFL record held by Lance Alworth.
Elias Sports Bureau Stat of the Day
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford broke an NFL record as well.
He threw for 443 yards without throwing a touchdown pass. That's the most passing yards in a touchdown-free game, surpassing the mark of 441 set by Joe Montana for the 1986 San Francisco 49ers.
Johnson's 225 receiving yards were tied with Bernie Casey (1966 49ers) for the second-most in a game without a touchdown catch. Keenan McCardell had 232 receiving yards without a touchdown for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1996.