Since almost the day he first stepped onto an NFL field, Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan has been thrilling fans with his late-game heroics.
Put Ryan in a press-conference setting and chances are good he’s not going to thrill. He’s always polite, but he can be reserved and cautious, especially when talking about himself.
That’s how it played out Wednesday as Ryan addressed the media during the NFC Championship Game press conference at the team’s facility in Flowery Branch, Ga. With a national audience watching, Ryan was asked about the history of his “Matty Ice" nickname.
For those who expect some grand story, you’re going to be disappointed.
Ryan just laughed and said the nickname started when he was a freshman in high school at William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia.
Was there some big comeback that earned him the nickname?
“No particular reason,’’ Ryan said. “Just out of the blue. I guess it sounded cool. It just stuck.’’
Whatever, Ryan’s play since joining the Falcons has been very cool. Ryan has led 23 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime, including Sunday’s victory against Seattle.
Ryan also has been particularly good in the final two minutes of the first or second half this season. Including the playoff win against Seattle, Ryan has completed 70.1 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and no interceptions in the final two minutes of either half, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
So where does Ryan’s poise come from?
No big story there either, at least according to Ryan.
“As a guy that’s been around five years, you learn it’s difficult week in and week out in the NFL,’’ Ryan said. “You need to keep playing.’’