Atlanta — The Pack’s up, down, up, down season ended with a thud as the Atlanta Falcons, led by presumptive MVP Matt Ryan, dominated in every phase of the game en route to a 44-21 rout in the NFC Championship game in Atlanta. It was the last game to be played at the Georgia Dome with a new stadium slated to be ready for next year.
Ryan threw 27-38 for 392 yards and four TDs, with no interceptions, and added 23 yards rushing and a 14-yard rushing TD to put an emphatic exclamation point on his probable MVP season. He also cemented his place among the NFL’s elite QBs while earning his first Super Bowl berth. He could be the league’s most “under-recognized superstar.” That’s likely to end, however, particularly if he can lead his team to a Super Bowl victory.
Meanwhile, AR was 27-45-287 with 3 TDs and one interception. Don’t be fooled, though; all the TD’s and a big chunk of the yards were in “garbage time” after the Falcons had effectively put this one out of reach by jumping to a 31-0 lead before the Pack scored in the third quarter.
The game was not even as close as the lopsided score indicated. From the outset, the Pack was plagued by offensive mistakes, missed opportunities, and a complete inability of the depleted defense to put up any real resistance to Ryan and his star receiver, Julio Jones. Meanwhile, the much-maligned Atlanta defense had little problem keeping AR and the Pack in offense in check until the game was effectively over.
Next stop for the high-flying Falcons: the Super Bowl in Houston in two weeks v. the winner of the Patriots v. Steelers game.
For the Pack, it was a disappointing ending after a string of eight straight victories, led by some incredible play from AR, which took them within a game of the Super Bowl after a 4-6 start. The Pack finished the season at 12-7 and an NFC North Championship. With AR and a hopefully healthy team, the Pack should be positioned to make another Super Bowl run next fall.
Good luck to Matt Ryan and the Falcons in two weeks!