The Falcons managed to stay in the postseason hunt longer than most anticipated, but their playoff hopes evaporated after a loss to the Bills in Week 17.
Atlanta was competitive in the first half of Sunday’s game, but despite leading at halftime, the team was shut out by Buffalo in the second half. A crucial point in the contest came on a controversial Matt Ryan scramble where he slid into the end zone for what was initially ruled a touchdown.
The play would later be overturned by the officials, who ruled that Ryan gave himself up too early. After Ryan thought he scored, he stood up and taunted Jordan Poyer, who had just hit Ryan late as he went to the ground.
The taunting call wouldn’t have mattered much if the touchdown hadn’t been overturned. Once Ryan was ruled down short of the goal line, though, the penalty was enforced and the Falcons were backed up. Ultimately, they failed to score any points on the drive. Ryan was disappointed with the call after the game.
“Obviously, I didn’t think I was down, you know. I wasn’t trying to give myself up or anything like that. So, it’s disappointing but the rules are the rules and so, you have to play by them,” stated Ryan on the overturned touchdown.
“And then, football’s an emotional game and so, there lots of things that are said out there and I’m disappointed in myself in that the timing cost us, but I didn’t think it was anything that bad.”
Every season, it seems that the NFL introduces a new set of rules that are deemed unpopular as the season progresses. This year, the NFL’s attempt to eliminate taunting has mostly been a disaster as players have been penalized for miniscule jawing in key moments.
Even if Ryan was deemed down at the one-yard line, Atlanta still had a significantly better chance of scoring on third or fourth down before the taunting penalty.
Ryan was later asked about the missed late-hit call from Jordan Poyer and stated he couldn’t make this argument to the official because when the call was made, he was already on the sideline thinking it was a touchdown.
“It’s disappointing how it shook out. Whether I agree with either of the calls, doesn’t make a difference. Those are the rules.”