Patriots, Falcons to Meet in Super Bowl LI after Dominating Displays
It was not pretty by any standard.
At least, you know, for the losing squads in Pittsburgh and Green Bay.
Atlanta and New England put on offensive and defensive clinics as they both punched their tickets to Houston in two weeks to meet for NFL supremacy.
Lets start with Atlanta, whose high powered offense just could not be stopped as they raced out to a 31-0 lead before ending the game with a 44-21 victory. Here are some key factors that helped Atlanta’s conquest to an NFC title.
This offense is scary good
You thought Aaron Rodgers was hot? I certainly did. Little did people know, Matt Ryan was playing better under the radar. Ryan has never made it to the big game and has never taken that next step towards the true elite quarterbacks such as Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger. Now, he definitely has to be put into the conversation. Ryan has been consistent since starting as a rookie for Atlanta in 2008 and in his second NFC Championship game, made sure the Falcons would come out on top.
It helps that the Falcons play indoors to aid their track star type skill players. Ryan tossed 4 touchdowns on 27 of 38 throwing for 392 yards and had a pretty easy time carving up the Packers defense. Receivers Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu had themselves a field day. Jones reeled in 9 balls for 180 yards and 2 touchdowns including an unfathomable 73 yard touchdown where he would stiff arm two defenders down the sideline and continued to accelerate towards the end zone. No man can match the speed, size and strength of Jones. Sanu meanwhile caught an early touchdown and before anyone could blink, the Packers had lost all momentum. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman had 25 carries combined for 71 yards and touchdown but still showed tremendous bursts of acceleration. Since the passing game too good, the running backs did not need to play as big of a part like recent weeks.
Atlanta’s defense made life rough for Aaron Rodgers
Rodgers finished with 287 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception on 27 of 45 throwing but those stats can be misleading. Rodgers was 12 of 17 for 119 yards and an interception at halftime with the Packers trailing 24-0. At that point Rodgers piled up some garbage time stats long after the game was out of reach. I said previously for the Falcons to win, they would need Ryan to equal and likely outplay Rodgers to get to the Super Bowl. Boy did he ever.
Rodgers was not helped out with an early missed field goal by Mason Crosby and then, when trailing 10-0, fullback Aaron Ripkowski seemed to be bulldozing his way through the red zone when he was stripped by Jalen Collins. Atlanta recovered the ball and marched down the field and went up 17-0. All of the momentum the Packers had seemingly went out the window and they could never recover.
The Falcons likely have the MVP in Ryan as he was never fazed by the big stage and put on arguably the best performance he’s ever had in a playoff game. He was rewarded with a Super Bowl berth and takes the best offense with him to Houston. A defense, which has been led by young stars in Vic Beasley and Jalen Collins will have their work cut out for them against Brady, but slowing down Rodgers in the first half to practically clinch the game was certainly a good start.
Patriots are here, yet again
For the 7th time together, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will play in the Super Bowl. A 4-2 record is pretty impressive. Getting a fifth title will make them stand-alone for most ever. Let me repeat: most Super Bowls…ever. They dispatched the Steelers easily 37-16 and it was never a contest. One week, it is Dion Lewis dominating on offense, this week it was undrafted wide receiver Chris Hogan who played lacrosse at Penn State and one year of football at Monmouth University. Yes, lacrosse. Seemingly there is no way to stop the freight train that is the New England Patriots.
Brady went 32 of 42 for 384 yards and 3 touchdowns. Insane. Honestly, insane. How do you stop this man? I certainly don’t know. We saw what happened to the great Peyton Manning when his body started breaking down and if it weren’t for an all time defense and just a few vintage Manning throws, the Broncos would not have made the playoffs last season. Brady does not seem to be falling off what so ever. The Steelers were over matched and it seemed bad after last week when they could not score a touchdown with their three stars on offense in Ben Roethlisberger, LeVeon Bell and Antonio Brown. Bell exited the AFC Championship with an injury and DeAngelo Williams could not make up for the loss. The Steelers turned it over twice and could not get any momentum against the No. 1 scoring defense of New England. Good luck Atlanta.
Tom Brady will cement himself as the greatest ever with another Super Bowl title
Okay, that is at least in the mind of this writer. Mind you, I did not grow up in the days of Joe Montana and John Elway. Sometime this offseason, I will give you the pleasure of ranking my Top 5 quarterbacks of all time with a few honorable mentions. However, No. 1 on the list most likely right now and most certainly will be if the Patriots are victorious in two weeks is Brady.
What other quarterback plays this well at this age? I can think of one off the top of my head. Brett Favre at age 40 in his first year with the Vikings was one interception away from the Super Bowl. The following year, he fell off a cliff. Will that happen to Brady? I don’t think so. The way he prepares, studies, and takes care of his body is unlike any quarterback I have ever seen. It also helps that Bill Belichick coaches him up tough.
Super Bowl LI is two weeks away, so do please, enjoy the Pro Bowl this weekend. I mean, maybe, try and I guess, watch it…
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