Patriots, Falcons to meet in Super Bowl LI

The Atlanta Falcons crush the Green Bay Packers 44-21 in the NFC Championship and the New England Patriots cruise to 36-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship to setup Super Bowl LI meeting.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA, UNITED STATES (JANUARY 22, 2017) (USA TODAY SPORTS) – The New England Patriots beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 36-17 in the American Football Conference Championship on Sunday (January 22) to book their place in the Super Bowl.

The Patriots will face the NFC champion Atlanta Falcons, who beat the Green Bay Packers 44-21 earlier on Sunday, in the National Football League’s showpiece on Feb. 5 in Houston.

New England, behind the potent passing attack led by quarterback Tom Brady, will be making a National Football League record ninth appearance in the Super Bowl, looking for their fifth championship.

Pittsburgh, who were also vying to become the first team to make a ninth Super Bowl appearance, stopped the Patriots’ running attack, but had a hard time containing Brady and his talented stable of receivers, most notably Chris Hogan.

Playing in his 11th conference title game, Brady completed 32-of-42 passes for 384 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, including first-half scoring strikes of 34 and 16 yards to Hogan.

Hogan also gained 39 yards on another connection that set up a 1-yard TD plunge by LaGarrette Blount in the third quarter as the Patriots scored the first 19 points of the second half to turn a tight game into a romp.

In Atlanta it was Matt Ryan piloting the high-flying Atlanta Falcons to a 44-21 rout of the Green Bay Packers in the National Football Conference Championship game to advance to the Super Bowl for just the second time.

Ryan underlined his credentials as the favorite for NFL most valuable player honors, throwing for four touchdowns and running for another to reach the Feb. 5 Super Bowl in Houston where Atlanta will take on either the New England Patriots or Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Falcons celebrated the last game to be played at the Georgia Dome with an awesome display of offensive fireworks piling up 493 total yards to get back to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1999 and a chance to claim the franchise’s first NFL championship.

What was expected to be a shootout between two of the league’s supercharged attacks was instead a lopsided affair as the Falcons stormed to an early lead and never looked back as Ryan completed 27-of-38 passes for 392 yards.

Ryan’s favorite target Julio Jones hauled in nine catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns.

Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers never got the Packers offense in gear. The Packers were shutout in the opening half and trailed 31-0 before finally getting on the scoreboard.