It was billed as a potential shootout.
In the end, however, the Atlanta Falcons had most of the weapons.
The Falcons, 6-4 at one point this season, blew out the streaking Green Bay Packers Sunday night, winning a runaway 44-21 game. The Falcons, who have never won a Super Bowl (and who have played in only one), will play in two weeks against either New England or Pittsburgh.
Quarterback Matt Ryan, an MVP candidate, was excellent in the victory. He hit 27 of 38 for 392 yards and four touchdowns. He out-dueled Aaron Rodgers, who hit only 27 of 45 passes for 268 yards.
“He s such a competitor,” coach Dan Quinn said of Ryan. “He takes shots. He’s tough.”
Ryan’s primary target, again, was wide receiver Julio Jones, who caught nine passes for 180 yards (and two touchdowns).
Atlanta scored more than 30 points in each of its last six victories.
The Packers had won eight games in a row to get to the title game, but injuries helped catch up to Green Bay.
“The Falcons were outstanding today,” said Green Bay coach Mac McCarthy. “We ran out of gas in some spots.”
“We didn’t stop them at all defensively. There’s definitely a reason why (Ryan) is up for the MVP. He’s a tremendous player.”