ATLANTA — This is new territory for Matt Ryan.
The Atlanta quarterback passed for a career-best 421 yards and two touchdowns, leading a furious comeback that came up short as the New England Patriots held on for a 30-23 victory Sunday night.
The Falcons (1-3) dipped two games below .500 for the first time since 2007 — the year before Ryan arrived to lead the best era in franchise history.
At the moment, Atlanta hardly looks like the Super Bowl contender it was projected to be at the beginning of the season.
"Obviously, we're not where we want to be," said Ryan, who completed 34 of a career-high 54 passes. "We've got to claw ourselves back to where we want to be. It's a long haul. There's still a long way to go."
Tony Gonzalez also had a career night with 149 yards on 12 catches.
It wasn't enough.
"Everybody's disappointed," Gonzalez said. "We know that we're a good football team, but you are what the record says you are."
Tom Brady threw for 316 yards and two touchdowns in his best outing of the season for the unbeaten Patriots, who improved to 4-0 for the first time since their near-perfect season in 2007.
"We slugged it out," Brady said. "We came to Atlanta, which is a tough place to play and they've got a very good team. It's nice to win and be 4-0."
The Patriots built a 30-13 lead before the Falcons rallied. Atlanta had a chance to tie it up in the final minute, but Aqib Talib knocked away Ryan's fourth-down pass for Roddy White in the end zone with 36 seconds remaining.
"We've got to do a better job of finishing out the game," New England coach Bill Belichick said, "but we did a good job of putting ourselves in that position with a 17-point lead with 6 minutes to go in the game."