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Falcons' Matt Ryan wanted NFC Championship game 'decided on the field'

Feb. 6 (UPI) – His team wasn’t in the NFC Championship game, but Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan told UPI that he wishes the bout “would have been decided on the field.”

Ryan was referencing the mistakes made by officials in the fourth quarter of the Los Angeles Rams’ overtime win against the New Orleans Saints on Jan. 20 in New Orleans.

Referees pocketed their whistles during a Drew Brees pass to Tommylee Lewis. Rams cornerback Nickell Robey Coleman arrived early during the sequence, decking the Saints pass-catcher before the ball arrived.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said last week that Robey Coleman should have been flagged for the play, which would have awarded a first down to the Saints and given them a chance to score a touchdown instead of settling for a field goal after no-call. The Rams went on to tie the game with a field goal, before pulling off the overtime victory and clinching a spot in Super Bowl LIII.

Goodell said that he spoke to Saints coach Sean Payton, team owner Gayle Benson and head of football operations Troy Vincent, among others, after the game. He did not disclose what he said in those conversations.

The NFL commissioner also said that the league will consider the use of instant replay for future pass interference calls.

“It’s a tough way to lose for sure,” Ryan said. “Obviously you want the game to be decided on the field and with the players, but it happens. In this spot it happens from time to time and that’s the way it goes.”

Ryan worked with Tostitos during Super Bowl week to set the unofficial world record for the longest live stream of a tortilla chip bowl, which lasted 53 hours.

He said he has a good relationship with Brees. Ryan followed the future Hall of Famer while he was at Purdue and with the San Diego Chargers, before Brees landed in the NFC South. The Falcons are 8-13 against Brees and the Saints during Ryan’s tenure. Atlanta has lost its last three games against New Orleans, including a 2018 sweep.

“He’s a great guy and a great competitor,” Ryan said. “You feel for him but we’ve all kinda of been in that spot.”

Ryan was also part of a brutal ending when the Falcons lost Super Bowl LI to the New England Patriots after leading 28-3. He had an MVP season in 2016, before watching his numbers slip in 2017. But the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft believes he has remained consistent.

Ryan completed 69.9 percent of his throws for 4,944 yards, 38 scores and seven interceptions during his MVP campaign. He completed 64.7 percent of his throws for 4,095 yards, 20 scores and 12 interceptions in 2017. The 11-year veteran completed 69.4 percent of his throws for 4,924 yards, 35 scores and just seven interceptions in 16 starts this season.

“I honestly thought the consistence and my production … the numbers might not have been as good the year before, but I played pretty well and won 10 games two years ago,” Ryan said. “I feel like we had a pretty good year despite maybe the numbers not being as high as they were.”

“This year our record wasn’t quite what we hoped it to be, but we had pretty good production on the offensive side of the ball. I feel like the last three years have been pretty consistent.”

Ryan hasn’t missed a start since 2009. He has a 28-20 record as a starter in his last three seasons. The Boston College product posted 56-22 mark as a starter in his first five NFL seasons.

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