AFC/NFC Championship Playoffs
The Atlanta Falcons gave the Georgia Dome a well suited send off, pounding the Green Bay Packers 44-21, advancing to the Super Bowl for the second time in franchise history.
In their final game in the stadium soon to be demolished, the newly crowned NFC Champion Falcons fed the Packers a dose of defensive disillusion, scoring on four of their first five possessions.
Green Bay had an ominous opening drive when money place kicker Mason Crosby shockingly missed a 41-yard field goal. That set the disappointing tone for the Packers who then went on to drop, fumble and not run the ball for the remainder of an uncharacteristic one-sided affair.
Matt Ryan, the man who should be MVP, put the kibosh on counterpart Aaron Rodgers magical run, outmatching him in passing yards 392-287. Green Bay’s grumpy golden boy suffered a series of setbacks due to the loss of six players during the course of the game.
Without the services of both starting guards, T.J. Lang and Lane Taylor, linebacker Jake Ryan, and defensive end Micah Hyde, the Packers were mere mortals against the Falcons offensive driving machine.
Julio Jones did some serious damage to Green Bay’s suspect secondary with nine catches for 180 receiving yards and two TD’s.
This was a match-up that unfortunately didn’t live up to the hype, and I drank the cool aid thinking Rodgers could maintain his mojo against a Falcon team that has destiny written all over their fairy tale season.
As for the Steelers/Patriots night cap, it was business as usual – Brady over Ben 36-17, although the outcome may been far more climatic if not for the groin injured loss of star running back Le’Veon Bell.
Brady made Pittsburgh pay for their conservative blitzless defense while New England receivers toyed with Tomlin’s safeties, specifically Chris Hogan, who set a Patriots post-season record with nine receptions for 180 yards.
Roethlisberger had impressive numbers completing 31 of 47 passes for 314 yards. But his receivers did not live up to their end of the bargain with the type of deadly dropped passes, two by Sammie Coates, that make a coach and quarterback cringe.
So as the Steelers and Packers fall short once again, Belichick and Brady will ride into the Super Bowl sunset and attempt to be the first of their kind
to win five rings against a very formidable Falcon team.