Ryan, who entered the game needing 34 yards to hit the milestone, reached 50,000 with a 14-yard pass to Russell Gage in the first quarter. The accomplishment occurred in Ryan's 186th career game. He said coming into the game that achieving such a feat would be much better in a victory. Not to mention it came on the same day the Falcons placed former star receiver Roddy White in the team's Ring of Honor, as White was a prime recipient of many of Ryan's passing yards.
"Obviously, very proud of that, of going over 50,000 career passing yards,'' Ryan said. "I've been fortunate on a day where we honor Roddy White, it was cool to have him back because he was such a huge part of my career. I got out of the locker room just in time to kind of see the end of his [halftime] speech, which was great. And I'm so happy for him. But then to win the game, too, it makes the day all the better.''
Ryan, who passed for 313 yards and two touchdowns, also threw the longest completion of his career with a 93-yard touchdown hookup to undrafted rookie wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus in the third quarter. White had Ryan's longest previous completion with a 90-yard touchdown against the 49ers in October 2009.
"I told O.Z. he stole Roddy's thunder today,'' Ryan joked. "That was a great play, and I'm happy for O.Z. He's a guy that's worked extremely hard and stepped up when his number was called.''
Gage, a second-year receiver, was happy to be a part of Ryan's historic moment with the reception that put Ryan over 50,000.
"Man, it's great,'' Gage said. "We were just running an [inside slant] play that we practiced all week. I'm grateful that I could catch a ball from a legend, and for him to achieve something that great.''
Former Miami Dolphins star Dan Marino was the first quarterback to 50,000 career yards, in November 1996. The other players to accomplish the feat are Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning and John Elway. Marino, Rivers and Ryan are the only players on the list without a Super Bowl title to their name, with Rivers and Ryan still active.
Ryan actually joined the NFL's top 10 career passers during a 29-3 victory over the same Carolina team in Week 11, surpassing Warren Moon's 49,325. Now he's looking for his ninth consecutive season throwing for at least 4,000 yards with 3,559 passing yards and three games remaining.
Julio Jones, who caught five passes for 66 yards Sunday and reached 1,000 receiving yards for the sixth consecutive season, praised Ryan for joining the 50,000-yard club.
"Just for him to be doing it for so long and just keep producing and putting up numbers, he's amazing,'' Jones said.
Ryan, now with 50,279 career yards, sits behind Elway (51,475). Brees currently stands as the NFL's all-time passing leader with 76,577 yards after passing for 349 yards in a loss to San Francisco on Sunday.