On the night before the biggest game of his career, Matt Ryan took home the NFL’s biggest individual honor.
That Atlanta Falcons quarterback was named the league’s Most Valuable Player by the Associated Press Saturday night. In so doing, he became the first player in franchise history to win the award. Ryan beat out Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Derek Carr, Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott in the voting. He garnered 25 MVP votes compared to Brady who finished second in the voting with ten.
It wasn’t the only silverware Ryan took home Saturday. He was also named the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year earlier in the night.
Atlanta Falcons Quarterback Matt Ryan Named NFL Most Valuable Player
Ryan’s 2016 regular season was undoubtedly the most prolific of his nine-year career. The 31-year-old set career highs in yards (4,944), touchdowns (38), completion percentage (69.9 percent) and quarterback rating (117.1). He also finished with a Total QBR of 83.3 which was the sixth-highest mark in NFL history.
Much is made of the connection between Ryan and talented wide receiver Julio Jones. It’s no surprise considering Jones’ haul of 1,409 receiving yards and six touchdowns in the regular season. It continued in the playoffs, including a 180 yard, two touchdown performance in Atlanta’s 44-21 rout of Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game.
But the four-time Pro Bowler spread the wealth around better than perhaps any other signal caller in the history of the league. All in all, 13 different receivers caught touchdown passes for the Falcons, an NFL record. Combining regular season and playoffs, three Atlanta wideouts finished with five or more including Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel.
This is clearly the biggest individual award of Ryan’s career. But getting to hold the Lombardi Trophy when all’s set and done is what he and every NFL player dreams of. That said, doing so has proven elusive for MVP winners whose team made it to the big game.
Since 2001, seven MVPs have also gone onto play in the Super Bowl. Of those seven, all have come out on the losing end of the game. The last AP MVP to lead his team to a championship was Kurt Warner who helped the St. Louis Rams win Super Bowl XXXIV.
Ryan’s opportunity to reverse that trend takes place Sunday night when his Falcons face the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI. The game kicks off at 6:30 PM and will be televised on FOX.