With another MVP-worthy performance and plenty of help from Julio Jones, Matt Ryan guided the Atlanta Falcons to a 44-21 rout of the Green Bay Packers for the NFC championship Sunday, a showing that erased any doubts about whether Ryan can win the big games.
In his ninth season, he's finally headed to his first Super Bowl .
Ryan threw for 392 yards and four touchdowns, but it was his 14-yard scoring run - his first TD on the ground since 2012 - that really set the tone .
Jones was right in the middle of things, too. After barely practicing during the week because of a lingering toe injury, he finished off the Packers with a 73-yard catch-and-run on Atlanta's second snap of the second half, pushing the lead to 31-0 and essentially turning the rest of the Georgia Dome finale into one long celebration.
Aaron Rodgers pushed the Packers quickly into Atlanta territory with a 27-yard pass to Jordy Nelson, who missed the previous game with a rib injury. But Mason Crosby, who hit two field goals longer that 50 yards in the closing minutes against the Cowboys, pushed a 41-yard attempt right of the upright to snap a playoff-record streak of 23 straight field goals.
Rodgers finished 27 of 45 for 287 yards and three TDs, but he also threw an interception, was sacked twice and faced a relentless Falcons rush.
The Falcons finished with a 493-367 edge in total yards.
The Falcons (13-5) will face Tom Brady and the Patriots on Feb. 5 in Houston, just the second Super Bowl appearance in Atlanta's 51-year history. Eighteen years ago, they lost to Denver in John Elway's final game.
New England, heading to its ninth Super Bowl, blew out Pittsburgh 36-17. The Patriots opened as a 3-point favorite.
Tom Brady threw for a franchise playoff-best 384 yards and three touchdowns in New England's sixth consecutive AFC championship game.
Brady's main weapon was Chris Hogan. The previously unheralded receiver found open spaces everywhere on the field against a leaky secondary. Hogan caught nine balls for 180 yards and two scores.
Top wideout Julian Edelman added eight receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown as Brady tied Joe Montana's playoff record with nine three-TD passing performances.