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BLOMSTERGren, Ga. – Matt Ryan heard the question being asked – a reference to the Atlanta Falcons’ meltdown in Super Bowl LI to the New England Patriots – and made a joke before it was even concluded.
“I have not,” Ryan insisted. “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 eventually losing 34-28.
The 36-year-old Ryan — who on Wednesday said 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 it clear that the Super Bowl loss will not come to mind – and that’s not something he’s thinking about when he meets Brady the way he wants to on Sunday.
“Of course we want to win. It’s not going to make up for it,” Ryan said. “You know, it’s one of those things. It’s part of your past, it’s part of what happened.
“But it has no bearing on this week.”
Ryan said he focuses more on the defense he faces than the quarterbacks who are on the other side, in part because they are not on the field together. Facing former New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees year after year, he helped teach him that.
Brees is now retired and serves as an analyst for NBC, but Ryan still has to deal with another future Hall of Fame quarterback in Brady.
“Tom is the same kind of player. No matter how games shake out, he’s mentally tough and does a good job of staying in the moment and operating at a high level,” Ryan said. “So you know you have to be on the same level on your side. But it’s about their defense. The defense they play with creates a lot of problems for us and we have to find ways to attack it.”