ATLANTA — When the Atlanta Falcons earned their only other Super Bowl berth, the NFC Championship Game victory came in Minnesota. This time, their home fans got to help celebrate and it was quite a way to close down the Georgia Dome.
Matt Ryan, showing that he could be just as good in the playoff as the regular season, threw for four touchdowns, ran for another and the Falcons routed the Green Bay Packers 44-21 on Sunday.
Ryan completed 27 of 38 passes for 392 yards as the Packers defense had no answer for the quarterback and star receiver Julio Jones, who caught nine passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns.
It took an overtime kick by Morten Andersen in the 1998 playoffs for the Falcons to advance to their other Super Bowl, where they lost to Denver. This NFC title, though, came in a rout.
The Falcons led 31-0 early in the third quarter after a 73-yard touchdown connection from Ryan to Jones, who caught a 5-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.
Ryan went a sixth straight game without throwing an interception and wasn’t sacked.
Aaron Rodgers, who had led the Packers to eight straight victories, completed 27 of 45 passes for 287 yards and three touchdowns. He was sacked twice and threw an interception.
The Falcons drove 80 yards in 13 plays after the opening kickoff, Mohamed Sanu scoring the touchdown on a 2-yard underhand flip from a scrambling Ryan and the trend for the game was set.
The lead was 10-0 at the end of the first quarter after Matt Bryant followed a miss by the Packers’ Mason Crosby from 31 yards with a 28-yard field goal. Crosby had previously been successful on 23 consecutive postseason kicks — an NFL record.
It looked like the Packers’ were going to cut into the Falcons’ lead early in the second quarter, but Jalen Collins stripped Aaron Ripkowski at the 11-yard line and recovered the fumble in the end zone for a touchback.
Soon, the Atlanta lead was 17-0 as Ryan scrambled in from 14 yards out to climax an 80-yard drive.
The Falcons couldn’t hold a similar lead in the 2012 NFC title game, losing 28-24 at home to the San Francisco 49ers. There would be no repeat against the Packers.
Ricardo Allen picked off Rogers and the Falcons went 68 yards to make it 24-0 at halftime on a 5-yard toss from Ryan to Jones.
Ryan was 22 of 32 in the first half for 271 yards, completing passes to eight different players.
The Packers, down 31-0 in the third quarter, didn’t reach the end zone until Rodgers hit Davante Adams from 2 yards. Jordy Nelson caught a 3-yard TD pass later in the third quarter, but that came after Ryan had connected with Devonta Freeman from a yard out.
The Falcons scored their sixth touchdown on a 3-yard run by Tevin Coleman early in the fourth quarter before Rodgers hit Jared Cook from a yard out on a touchdown pass.
NOTES: The Packers lost G Lane Taylor (knee), S Micah Hyde (shoulder) and S Kentrell Brice (knee) to injuries in the first half, and G T.J. Lang (foot) and LB Jake Ryan (shoulder) in the third quarter. Brice was hurt making a tackle on the opening kickoff, while Hyde and Taylor left in the second quarter. … Green Bay T Bryan Bulaga left the game in the fourth quarter to be evaluated for a possible concussion and RB Ty Montgomery (knee) went out in the third quarter. … Packers WR Jordy Nelson wore a Kevlar vest to protect his broken ribs. He had been listed as questionable along with WR Davante Adams (ankle), WR Geronimo Allison (hamstring), S Morgan Burnett (quad) and CB Quentin Rollins (neck). All played. … It was the fourth time the Falcons and Packers had met in the postseason and first since Green Bay won 48-21 at Atlanta in the 2010 divisional round. … Mercedes-Benz Stadium, being completed next door to the Georgia Dome, will host the 2019 Super Bowl.