FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Matt Ryan was referred to as "Matty Ice" even before his days at Boston College. But veteran cornerback Asante Samuel, in his first season with the Falcons, doesn't think the nickname fully captures the magnitude of the quarterback's late-game magic.

Ryan has engineered six comeback victories with fewer than 65 seconds remaining in his five NFL seasons, including the 30-28 victory over Seattle on Sunday that moved the Falcons to within one victory of the Super Bowl.

"It's Matt 'Black Ice,' " said Samuel. " 'Black Ice' because (that) is that slick stuff you can't see coming."

Ryan, who set Falcons records for passing percentage (68.6), yardage (4,719), touchdowns (32) and passer rating (99.1) this season, had an uneven performance against the Seahawks, and his second interception led to a touchdown that could have branded him with an 0-4 playoff record.

But Ryan completed two clutch passes to get Matt Bryant in place for a game-winning 49-yard field goal.

"When the Seahawks scored with 31 seconds left, we knew they had given Matt too much time," said wide receiver Harry Douglas, who started the winning drive with a 22-yard sideline reception.

Falcons fans had already seen Ryan -- the third overall pick in the 2008 draft -- snatch victory from potential defeat time and again. All told, it was his 16th fourth-quarter comeback and 23rd game-winning drive.

"He liked it because it was tough," tight end Tony Gonzalez, who caught the pass to set up the winning field goal, said of Ryan's clutch performance.

Ryan, who had three touchdown passes against the Seahawks, is a very good quarterback through 58 minutes of a game. He is often a great one in the final two minutes.

"We've been in that situation before, so there wasn't any panic," wide receiver Roddy White said.

"He's so positive, so confident," running back Michael Turner said of Ryan. "We always think he's going to get it done, no matter how bad things might look."

Twice during the regular season, Ryan passed the Falcons into position for winning field goals by Bryant, who beat the Raiders and the Panthers with kicks in the final minute.

"We've been in those situations throughout the year and in the last couple of years," Ryan said. "I think your past experiences kind of harden you. I think they make you a little tougher in those type of situations. If you have an opportunity with time still on the clock, then you feel like you can get it done."

Both late drives in the regular season and the one against the Seahawks came after Ryan had experienced less than a stellar game.

Most games, though, Ryan has been sharp from start to finish. His passing rating was fifth best in the NFL as he flourished under new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.

"He's added some things that have really helped us," Ryan said.

Encouraged to throw deep, Ryan completed 42.6 percent of his passes of 20 or more yards this season after hitting on 30 percent in 2011.

Few quarterbacks have a better receiving corps than Ryan.

Julio Jones and Gonzalez joined Ryan as Pro Bowl selections, and the Falcons thought that White belonged as well.

The receiving trio combined for 25 touchdowns in the regular season, with half of Jones' 10 coming off throws of more than 20 yards from Ryan -- second most in the NFL.

"If you get a step on the DB, you know he'll get the ball out there right where you can catch it," Jones said.

White is also a deep threat, as shown by his 47-yard reception against the Seahawks.

"The 49ers haven't faced two wide receivers like me and Roddy this season," Jones said.

"There is no pressure on Matt. We all feel that we are ready to take it to the next level. We're going to keep doing what we've been doing. Just keep performing."

  • Defensive end John Abraham took part in practice Wednesday on a limited basis, according to coach Mike Smith. The Falcons' top pass rusher didn't play in the second half of the Seahawks game after reinjuring his sprained left ankle. Reserve corner Christopher Owens, out since the last game of the regular season with a hamstring strain, didn't practice. Defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (ribs) was limited. Safety William Moore practiced fully but had his right hand in a cast.

    Which team will win the NFC Championship based on past playoff match-ups? Find out with our NFL playoff predictor.