The National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons have reached the Super Bowl championship game for only the second time in team history.
The Falcons won the National Football Conference title Sunday by overpowering the visiting Green Bay Packers, 44-21. That earns them the right to play in Super Bowl LI (51) on February 5 in Houston against the New England Patriots.
Atlanta dominated from the start, took a 24-0 lead by half-time and was never threatened. Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan led the way, completely 27 of 38 passes for 392 yards and four touchdowns.
“It feels good, but we have some unfinished business,” said Ryan, adding, “We’ve got to take care of business in Houston in two weeks.”
Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy gave no excuses, saying the Falcons were outstanding. “Their good performance speaks for itself. They got away from us. It’s really a credit to the Falcons.”
In the Falcons’ only other Super Bowl appearance, they lost in 1999 (in Miami) to the Denver Broncos, winners of last year’s Super Bowl in San Francisco.
New England last won the Super Bowl two years ago, and has won four titles since 2002.
They are led by quarterback Tom Brady who threw three touchdown passes Sunday in New England’s 36-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the American Football Conference championship game.
Brady was suspended for the first four games of the season over allegations dating back to the 2015 season that he was linked to deflating footballs used in a game.He ended the year trailing only Ryan among the league’s top-rated quarterbacks.
“We won a lot of different ways under a lot of different circumstances,” Brady said after Sunday’s game.”We’ll see if we can write the perfect ending in a few weeks.”