ATLANTA – If this was a Super Bowl preview, that’s going to be quite a game in Dallas.
Roddy White hauled in a 33-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan with 20 seconds remaining and the Atlanta Falcons, after squandering a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter, rallied to beat the Baltimore Ravens 26-21 on Thursday in a prime-time matchup between two of the NFL’s top teams.
“If you like football, like intense football, that was it,” said Falcons coach Mike Smith, a former Ravens assistant. “That might have been the most the intense game I’ve ever been involved with at any level of football.”
With commissioner Roger Goodell looking on, the Falcons (7-2) appeared to be control after Ryan went to White for a 4-yard touchdown with 11:34 remaining to make it 20-7. Smith didn’t attempt a two-point conversion, which nearly came back to bite him.
After barely touching the ball in the first half, Baltimore (6-3) rallied behind Joe Flacco’s two fourth-quarter TD passes, the second of them a 9-yarder to Todd Heap with 1:05 left.
Back came the Falcons, who improved to 18-1 at home with Ryan as the starter. He needed less than a minute to pull off an 80-yard drive, hooking up with Michael Jenkins on a huge third-down pass along the sideline before going back to his favorite receiver for the winner.
Ryan rolled to his left to get away from the pressure, and White shoved off Josh Wilson with his right hand to get free. Ryan delivered the ball perfectly, White caught it with no one around and cruised into the end zone.