“I hope this is the start of something,” Ryan said. “I really feel like, although we have 2-6, I feel like we’ve been in close games. We played good football. I think we can play some really tough football here in the second half of the season. “
The Falcons did so in 2019, after a 1-7 start with a 6-2 finish that included wins in the last four games. Can they repeat this over the next two months?
It won’t be easy. They have a winnable game against Denver next weekend, but after their leave they face New Orleans twice in three weeks. Then there are two games against Tampa Bay and one against Kansas City, in addition to games against the Las Vegas Raiders and the Los Angeles Chargers. The Broncos and Chargers are the only opponents to have lost records.
“We’ve been in every game we’ve played this year,” Ryan said. “We’ve had some crazy losses, to be blunt, and I really believe we have the team caliber to be in the games we’re going to play the rest of the season.
“Why can’t we win them all? This is the state of mind that I have. “
The way the Falcons beat the Panthers gives Ryan hope. They overcame a 2-on-6 performance in the red zone and the loss of header Calvin Ridley to an ankle injury. The Falcons held a 13-minute possession advantage, totaled 401 yards, held the Panthers 2 of 10 on the third down and sacked quarterback Teddy Bridgewater three times.
Ryan also threw a career-longest 13-yard touchdown to become the third quarterback in franchise history to have double-digit touchdowns. He only trails Michael Vick (21) and Steve Bartkowski (11).
Thursday was only the second time this season the Falcons have won a game in which they entered the fourth quarter with a lead. They had been 1-3 in this situation, including last weekend’s loss to Detroit in the last game of the game. The Falcons led the Lions 14-13 in the fourth quarter, but Gurley’s touchdown gave the Lions too much time and Matthew Stafford’s TD pass to TJ Hockenson gave the Lions a 23-22 victory.
It was just the last – and most painful – flop of the fourth quarter. The Falcons lost a five-point lead in Week 2 in a 40-39 loss to Dallas and 16 points in Week 3 to Chicago.
Until the victory over the Panthers, the Falcons’ only fourth-quarter lead was Oct. 18 at Minnesota.
“I just felt like it was going to be a different night,” Ryan said. “Our defender stepped up and did a great job creating games. I’m happy for them. Moving forward in this type of situation is a confidence factor for us. ”
And, Ryan hopes, the start of another rally in the second half.