NFC South High Energy Player of the Week

A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 12.

For the last year or two, there has been a lot of conversation about whether Atlanta's Matt Ryan is an "elite'' quarterback.

I've never been sure exactly what the qualifications are for that distinction. But I'm pretty sure getting signature wins against very good teams and leading late game-winning drives must fall somewhere on that list.

If they do, what Ryan did Sunday must have him at least closing in on elite status. In what was perhaps Atlanta's biggest game of the season so far, a showdown with fellow NFC power Green Bay, Ryan outdueled Aaron Rodgers.

With the score tied 17-17 with 56 seconds left, Ryan marched the Falcons down the field, completing four of five passes. He set them up for Matt Bryant to kick the game-winning field goal that allowed the Falcons to become the first NFC team to reach nine wins.

Ryan also continued his winning ways at the Georgia Dome, where he has lost only one game in three seasons -- and that came in 2008. For the day, Ryan completed 24 of 28 passes (85.7 percent) as the Falcons went a franchise-record fourth straight game without a turnover. The team won its fifth consecutive game and won for the ninth time in its past 10 games.