Shutdown Corner - NFL

It's a label that's unfair and way too easy to apply, but it's probably going to be stuck to Matt Ryan(notes) anyway: playoff choke artist.

It's a fact that Ryan didn't play well Saturday. He made mistakes that buried the Falcons in a hole they couldn't begin to climb out of. He was intercepted twice in the last 150 seconds of the first half, lost one fumble, and only scratched out 186 passing yards.

It's also a fact that Ryan didn't play well two years ago in the playoffs against the Cardinals. In that game, he also threw two interceptions, lost one fumble and came up short of 200 passing yards.

Those are his only two playoff appearances, and both can be fairly classified as failures. In those games, Ryan has thrown three touchdown passes against six turnovers. The same label has been slapped on quarterbacks for less than that.

So Ryan is likely to hear it. In a climate of impatient fans and 'round-the-clock sports media coverage, it's bound to happen.

I'll still bet on Matt Ryan winning plenty of playoff games in his career, though.

Playoff games are what people remember, and it's true, Ryan's finest moments have not come in his biggest games. But that can't overshadow the fact that Ryan, for a third-year pro, is pretty damn good. He posted a quarterback rating this season that landed him between Peyton Manning(notes) and Drew Brees(notes). He's going to the Pro Bowl.

He's also 25 years old and has seen just two playoff games. If the issue is his postseason poise -- and it might not be; it could just be that he's played two pretty good defenses and he's happened to have two off days at the wrong time -- that comes with experience. I see no reasons to be concerned about Matt Ryan's poise in the long-term.

He'll have plenty more opportunities in the playoffs. And he'll have better days than he did today.

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