Atlanta Falcons: Who Was to Blame for Each of Matt Ryan's 5 Interceptions?

Knox Bardeen@knoxbardeenNFC South Lead WriterNovember 19, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 18:  James Sanders #39 of the Arizona Cardinals pressures Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on November 18, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan had one of the worst games of his career Sunday when he threw a career-high five interceptions against the Arizona Cardinals.

When a quarterback makes that many mistakes, and doesn’t throw a touchdown pass either, bad things are supposed to happen. But the Falcons got the win, and Ryan joined some pretty powerful company, according to Zach Klein of WSB-TV.

Ryan went on during his postgame press conference to take full responsibility for the interceptions, but were they all really his fault?

Let’s look at who was really to blame:


Interception No. 1: First Quarter, 14:41

On the first play of the game for the Falcons, Ryan lined the team up in 11 Personnel and had Julio Jones and Roddy White out wide right with Harry Douglas wide left.

Jones and Douglas ran go routes while White, the primary receiver, ran a shallow in-route and was ahead of his defender William Gay.

Ryan put the ball a little behind White, but it was definitely catchable. White bobbled it twice and it flew into the air as White fell down. Rashad Johnson picked the gift interception out of the air and ran it to the 10-yard line.

This interception counts against Ryan, but it was White’s fault. White should have caught the ball cleanly or at least dropped it instead of bobbling it into the air.


Interception No. 2: First Quarter, 4:46

The Falcons were set up in a four-receiver formation with tight end Tony Gonzalez standing up to immediately go out on a route. Harry Douglas, who was set up in the slot on the right side, ran a 5-yard turnaround and had some room to maneuver.

When Ryan threw the ball, Darnell Dockett timed his jump perfectly and deflected the pass.

Gay was covering Douglas and was in a great position to catch the wobbling ball.

Ryan was feeling pressure, but didn’t throw the ball quicker than he should have. Chalk this one up to him.

“I just need to do a better job of finding passing lanes and putting the ball where it’s not going to be tipped,” said Ryan after the game. “That’s on me.”


Interception No. 3: First Quarter, 2:46

The Falcons lined up in 21 Personnel with White and Jacquizz Rodgers in the backfield. The two receivers lined up wide on both sides ran go routes to pull their defenders deep and Gonzalez crossed the field all the way to the right sideline.

The Cardinals got a good power rush on Ryan and pushed the pocket backwards. Dockett got free at the last moment and crushed Ryan, who then threw the ball to Gonzalez in double coverage

While a little bit of this sack can be blamed on the offensive line for not giving Ryan enough time, the real culprit was Ryan, who is an incredibly intelligent passer and knows he has to either throw that ball away or eat it for the sack.


Interception No. 4: Third Quarter, 1:48

With the score tied at 16 and the third quarter coming to an end, the Falcons line up in 11 Personnel and put White in motion from right to left.

At the snap, White moves back to the right underneath while Ryan rolls out in that direction. The intention was to get the ball to White in stride and let him make a play with the ball.

There was never a time when Ryan could have gotten the ball to White, but at the moment he tried, linebacker Daryl Washington stepped in front of the route and easily picked off the pass.

Ryan should have never thrown the pass.


Interception No. 5: Fourth Quarter, 4:16

Up by the four with 4:16 to play, the Falcons line up 10 Personnel. Ryan is in the shotgun and has four receivers—three to the left and one to the right.

The Falcons’ offensive line picked up the rush from the defensive line, but linebacker Paris Lenon attacked with a delayed blitz and got through untouched.

Ryan hurried the throw to his safety valve, Rodgers, but the pass caromed off the head of Dan Williams and into the arms of Sam Acho.

The offensive line takes a small portion of the blame here for not reacting to Lenon on his blitz. But since Rodgers, who sometimes would be back blocking for this exact blitz situation, was out on a route, Ryan had to fire quickly.

Ryan still should have avoided the passing lanes that were blocked, especially since it wasn’t even a hand or raised arm that knocked the pass off course, it was Williams’ head.