Staff Report From Metro Atlanta CEO
Monday, January 23rd, 2017
After 18 seasons, the Atlanta Falcons are headed back to the Super Bowl following a dominating 44-21 win over the Green Bay Packers.
The Falcons scored first at the Georgia Dome on Sunday, and their defense never the momentum slip away. QB Matt Ryan found WR Mohamed Sanu in the end zone with a shovel pass for six points, capping a 13-play, 80-yard opening drive of the game to give the Falcons a 7-0 lead. It marked the eighth straight game Atlanta has scored on their first possession.
Green Bay was unable to get in a rhythm offensively from the get-go. With Green Bay facing a third down, but threatening in Falcons territory, Atlanta’s rookie linebacker Deion Jones hit Aaron Rodgers as he was throwing and forced an incompletion to set up a 41-yard Mason Crosby field goal attempt. The kick was no good.
The Falcons offense immediately marched back down the field. But three penalties kept the Falcons’ offense to a field goal on their next offensive drive, making it 10-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Atlanta’s defense showed their ball-hawking, physical presence when CB Jalen Collins forced an Aaron Ripkowski fumble, giving the Falcons their first of two takeaways in the first half.
After leading the Falcons back into Green Bay territory, Ryan took it upon himself to capitalize on Atlanta’s forced turnover, running the ball 14 yards into the end zone, his first rushing touchdown since 2012.
The Falcons defense forced another three-and-out on the next play, then capped off a stellar performance with a Ricardo Allen interception that set up the Falcons final scoring play of the half, a Julio Jones touchdown.
Atlanta scored 14 of their 24 first half points off of turnovers created by their defense.
The Falcons’ defensive performance wasn’t a first half fluke.
Rodgers and Co. had the ball to start the second half and Atlanta forced a quick three-and-out.
Jones and Atlanta’s offense returned to the field, where the Pro Bowl WR continued to dominate the Packers’ defense, this time, willing his way down the field for a 71-yard touchdown play, putting the Falcons up 31-0 early in the third quarter.
Green Bay found the end zone twice in the third quarter but after a failed on-side kick attempt gave the Falcons great starting field position, setting up a three-yard touchdown run by Tevin Coleman, giving the Falcons a 29-point lead early in the fourth quarter.
The Falcons will play the winner of the AFC Championship Game between the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers in Houston, TX on Feb. 5 for Super Bowl LI.