ATLANTA — Matt Ryan trotted off the field to chants of “MVP! MVP! MVP!”

He certainly did nothing to hurt his credentials with a brilliant first half Sunday.

The Atlanta quarterback threw four touchdown passes to lead the Falcons to a 38-32 win over the New Orleans Saints, securing a first-round playoff bye for the NFC South champions.

Ryan was 17 of 19 for 235 yards by halftime, directing the Falcons (11-5) to touchdowns on all five possessions and a commanding 35-13 lead. He finished 27 of 36 for 331 yards, leaving him with a franchise-record 4,944 yards, 38 touchdowns and just seven interceptions this season.

Atlanta is seeded second in the NFC to Dallas.

“It was a pretty cool moment out there,” Ryan said, appreciating the crowd’s recognition of his brilliant season. “It felt really good.”

The Saints (7-9) came into the regular-season finale looking to finish another disappointing season with a three-game winning streak and avoid a third straight losing mark. But they were blitzed early and often by the league’s highest-scoring offense.

Atlanta piled up 323 yards in the first half. Ryan threw scoring passes of 7 yards to Tevin Coleman, 1 yard to Julio Jones, 10 yards to Mohamed Sanu and 7 yards to Justin Hardy.


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