FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Matt Ryan heard the question that was asked — a reference to the Atlanta Falcons‘ meltdown in Super Bowl LI to the New England Patriots — and cracked a joke before it was even completed.
“I haven’t,” Ryan deadpanned. “I never heard of it.”
Ryan, of course, knew the reference. The Falcons were up on New England — and their quarterback, Tom Brady — 28-3 during Super Bowl LI, before ultimately losing 34-28.
The 36-year-old Ryan — who said Wednesday he would be open to playing as long as Brady has — is 0-5 lifetime against Brady, between his time with New England and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Ryan made clear that the Super Bowl loss does not get in his head — and it’s not something he thinks about when he faces Brady, as he will Sunday.
“Of course we want to win. It’s not going to make up for that,” Ryan said. “You know, it’s one of those things. It’s part of your past, it’s part of what happened.
“But it’s got no bearing on this week.”
Ryan said he focuses more on the defenses he’s facing than the quarterbacks who are on the other side, in part because they aren’t on the field together. Facing former New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees year after year helped teach him that.
Brees is now retired and serving as an analyst for NBC, but Ryan still has to deal with another future Hall of Fame quarterback in Brady.
“Tom’s the same kind of player. Regardless of how games shake out, he’s mentally tough and does a great job of staying in the present and operating at a high level,” Ryan said. “So you know you have to be at the same level on your side. But it’s about their defense. The defense they are playing with creates a lot of issues for us and we’ve got to find ways to attack it.”