Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan hits top 10 all time in NFL pass yards

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan moved past Warren Moon for 10th place on the NFL's all-time passing list with his performance in Sunday's 29-3 win at the Carolina Panthers.

Ryan entered the game with 49,072 passing yards, behind Moon's 49,325. He finished the game with 311 yards and a touchdown on 21-of-31 passing and now has 49,383 career yards.

"It's pretty special, for sure," Ryan said of being a part of the elite group. "I've been fortunate to play for a long time and to have some success. To be mentioned with all those other guys that are up there is special. I've always dreamed of being in that spot as a kid. To be there is good. There's a lot of work to do. But when you kind of hit milestones like that, it's always more fun when you do it in a win so you can celebrate with the guys."

Wide receiver Julio Jones, who joked about Ryan's being around "a long time" to accomplish such a feat, praised his quarterback for the milestone.

"It's just a testament to him taking care of himself and being able to have longevity," Jones said of Ryan, who is in his 12th NFL season. "Receivers have come in and out, but he's still been putting up numbers and being a great leader. He's just a hell of a quarterback."

Team owner Arthur Blank also recognized Ryan for moving into the top 10.

"He's been a top-10 quarterback in every sense for a very long period of time," Blank said. "I'm thrilled for Matt. I'm thrilled for the team. I'm sure glad we've had him since 2008."

Ryan, 34, is expected to become the 10th player to reach 50,000 yards at some point this season. John Elway is above Ryan on the all-time list at ninth with 51,475 yards.

The other players to surpass 50,000 yards are: Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Dan Marino, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning. Only Brees, Brady, Peyton Manning and Favre have surpassed 70,000 passing yards.

Ryan's performance Sunday helped the Falcons race out to a 20-0 halftime lead. He completed 14 of 20 passes for 215 yards and a passer rating of 105.2 in the first half.

The 2016 MVP was particularly strong throwing the deep ball, completing 4 of 5 passes for 127 yards on passes thrown 15-plus yards down the field in the first half. He connected with Jones for a 48-yard pickup and connected with Calvin Ridley for 34 yards.

"We've got special players on the outside, guys that can make you pay," Ryan said. "And both our guys, Julio and Calvin [Ridley], they played extremely well today. Ridley had a huge game, so it was great to see from him."

Ridley had 143 receiving yards and a 6-yard touchdown reception on eight catches, while Jones caught six passes for 91 yards.

Ryan's strong play on offense, and an incredibly strong effort by the defense, sparked the Falcons. Atlanta intercepted Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen four times and sacked him five times.

"It's huge," Ryan said of the defensive effort. "When you're creating turnovers like that, you're getting extra possessions and you're taking away possessions from them. It just gives you such an advantage. I think offensively, we didn't do a good enough job of capitalizing on all those turnovers. ... The way our defense played, it gives you a chance every week."

The Falcons, however, did walk away with their second straight win and have started 2-0 in NFC South play heading into next week's home matchup with Tampa Bay. There is a different vibe after a 1-7 start to the season.

"We've had two great games in a row," Blank said. "Today, it was great to see all three phases step it up. Our defense has been really spectacular the last two weeks. Eleven sacks in the last two games, and four picks today, so that's about as well as we can play on defense. I think the whole team has done a great job, players and coaches. We've got to keep it up."