January 22, 2017, Atlanta: Falcons fans celebrate beating the Packers 44-21 in the NFL football NFC Championship game to advance to the Super Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com

‘Fantastic’ Dome crowd bothered Packers

For weeks, Falcons coach Dan Quinn implored the team’s fans to help create an intimidating atmosphere at the Georgia Dome. He said the Falcons had to do their part, too, by winning games there.

In the building’s final game, with the Falcons playing for the NFC championship, the performance of the team and its fans came together like maybe never before.

The Falcons ambushed the Packers and never let up and the wire-to-wire demolition sent their supporters into a frenzy. Packers coach Mike McCarthy said the noise affected his team’s performance.

“We needed to keep pace with those guys and felt confident coming in here we could score points,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “We fell behind and then we got into a game you just don’t want to play, especially in this stadium. The crowd was fantastic it was a great environment to compete in and the noise factored in a little bit for us. We had to take a timeout early and a handful of times we couldn’t get the play in early and it was a problem.

“It was a credit to the crowd. You don’t want to play that type of game. I have spent some time coaching in New Orleans and over here at the Dome, when you get in those types of games it is difficult to overcome those deficits.”

The Falcons scored a touchdown on the opening possession for a 7-0 lead that they never gave back. Their next possession stalled near the goal-line and ended with a field goal, which somewhat subdued the crowd.

But the Falcons scored touchdowns on their next four possessions form there. They led 24-0 at halftime and, on their first possession of the second half, Julio Jones sent the fans into ear-shattering roar with a sensational 73-yard TD catch.

That score put the Falcons ahead 31-0 and Falcons fans louder than ever.

Each Falcons score forced the Packers to pass with quarterback Aaron Rodgers taking deep drops and his receivers running longer routes. As the Packers struggled, Falcons fans roared.

The Falcons were at home because they earned the NFC’s No. 2 seed and the Packers upset top-seeded Dallas.

“I thought it was an advantage today,” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said. “I thought the crowd was great. A really cool way to send out the Georgia Dome, and happy for the fans here in Atlanta.”

Rodgers complimented the atmosphere at the Georgia Dome but played down its effect on the game.

“It was loud, it’s a great environment,” he said. “To put this stadium to rest, I’m sure that’s a fun one for them. It’s a great place to play, fans are very loud. But we’ve dealt with the noise in the past and it wasn’t a major factor.”

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