Matt Ryan: I'd have played Super Bowl hurt for Falcons


Matt Ryan hasn't tried to forget about the Atlanta Falcons' NFC Championship Game loss. He's too busy trying to learn from his mistakes.

In a fascinating sit-down with's Pete Prisco, Ryan broke down exactly why the Falcons fell just short against the San Francisco 49ers last January. We highly recommend checking the piece out; it's a perfect example of how championships often are decided by the small details that rarely are written about.

Not a small detail: The Falcons' final two plays from scrimmage came after Ryan suffered a separated left shoulder. The Falcons have said that it was a four-week injury, suggesting he probably wouldn't have played in the Super Bowl if the Falcons made it. Ryan disagrees.

"Knowing myself, I think I would have played," Ryan said. "I would have done everything to play in that game. Yeah, I would have played. ... That's four weeks to 100 percent. Get about halfway there and you have to go."

Other big takeaways from the piece:

» Ryan makes a strong case that the game was not lost in the fourth quarter, but points to three earlier plays that cost the Falcons. The mistakes equally were shared between Ryan and Ryan's teammates. It's just remarkable how clear-headed Ryan is about what happened. He believes a decision on a first-quarter throw might have cost his team a title. It's clear how much he's gone over the game.

» On the Falcons' penultimate offensive play, Ryan said he threw the ball at six steps instead of at four steps, which the play calls for. He didn't realize the mistake until he watched the film. That small footwork adjustment might have cost points.

» Ryan calls Patrick Willis the 49ers' worst defender in coverage. That sounds more eye-opening until you consider that Willis isn't going to be as good in coverage as any safety or cornerback. That leaves Willis and his linebacker teammates. Fellow inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman clearly is quicker. Still, it wouldn't be a shock if Willis someday came off the field on third downs.

» The 49ers' coaching staff made key play calls on two of the last three Falcons' plays to get a stop. In a back-and-forth game, 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio closed strong.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.