Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan surgically dissected the middle of the field against Green Bay’s zone defenses and the Falcons’ defense relentlessly attacked Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers in Atlanta’s 44-21 win in the NFC championship game on Sunday.
Here’s the Report Card from the victory, which allowed the Falcons to advance to Super Bowl LI:
Pass offense: Ryan passed for 271 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. He completed 17 of 20 passes to the middle of the field for 242 yards, according to profootballfocus.com. He finished with 392 yards passing overall while completing 27 of 38 passes for four touchdowns. The dynamic Julio Jones, who had 9 catches for 180 yards, made the Packers pay for trying to cover him man-to-man. He took a crossing route 73 yards for a touchdown on the first possession of the second half, beating Green Bay cornerback LaDarius Gunter in coverage and stiffed-arming cornerback Damarious Randall on his way to the end zone. Grade A.
Rush offense: Ryan was the team’s leading rusher on two carries for 23 yards in the first half, including his 14-yard touchdown scramble. Devonta Freeman had 42 yards on 14 carries to lead the team. Tevin Coleman had the opportunity to break several runs, but slipped. Grade B-minus.
Pass defense: Jalen Collins was beaten early for 17-yard gain by Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson, but he settled down. Defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman had a nice-one handed sack and defensive back Brian Poole’s laid a big hit on quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the second quarter. The Falcons had two sacks, 10 knockdowns and 13 hits on Rodgers, who lost his cool late in the game and got into a sideline incident with cornerback Robert Alford. Rodgers was 27 of 45 for 287 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Ricardo Allen had the interception and Collins had an interception overturned. Grade A.
Rush defense: The unit held up as the Packers really didn’t try to test the run defense early. When they did, Collins stripped Green Bay running back Aaron Ripkowski of the ball and made the recovery, leading to an 80-yard Atlanta TD drive. The Packers got behind 31-0 and had to abandon the run. Grade B-plus
Special teams: The units were steady and controlled Green Bay’s return men. Grade B.
Coaching: Coach Dan Quinn and his staff had the team ready to play in all three phases of the game. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and Ryan masterfully cut up the middle of Green Bay’s zone defenses. The defense attacked Rodgers and never let him get in command of the game. Grade A.