Atlanta Falcons thrash Green Bay Packers to reach Super Bowl 51
Matt Ryan celebrates during the Atlanta Falcons big win (Photo: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports)

The Atlanta Falcons thrashed the Green Bay Packers 44-21 to win the NFC Championship and progress through to the Super Bowl for the second time in franchise history.

Matt Ryan threw two touchdowns and rushed for one as the hosts shut out their opponents in the first half and led 24-0 at half-time.

Julio Jones scored his second touchdown of the game before the Packers got on the board when Aaron Rodgers found Davante Adams in the end zone.

Devonta Freeman, Jordy Nelson, Tevin Coleman and Jared Cook all scored thereafter, but Atlanta, who are the 12th different team to win the NFC Championship in 16 seasons, held out to record an impressive victory in their final game at the Georgia Dome.

Atlanta race into early lead

The Falcons overcame the Seattle Seahawks in the Divisional Round last Sunday, and started the game with an opening-drive touchdown for the eighth game running.

Ryan kept the drive alive on a few occasions before flipping a pass to Sanu for a two-yard touchdown on third down.

Nelson, who was playing with a kevlar vest to protect his broken ribs, made 42-yards in two plays on the Packers’ first drive of the game.

However, Atlanta managed to hold out on defense to force a field goal attempt – Mason Crosby missed a 41-yard attempt.

Dan Quinn’s side continued their urgency and Matt Bryant kicked a 28-yard field goal on the next drive to stretch the lead into double figures.

Ryan puts Falcons in complete control

Back-to-back completions to Randall Cobb began the drive, but soon after, Aaron Ripkowski fumbled the ball for the first time in his career inside the red zone. The full-back burst through to pick up a first down, but Jalen Collins stripped the ball out and recovered the ball to force a turnover.

Atlanta made their opponents pay for not taking any points from their two trips into the red zone by driving 80-yards up the field on the next drive. Ryan connected with Jones twice at the start of the drive for 37-yards and then the quarterback rushed into the end zone untouched from 14-yards.

Rodgers threw an interception after the two-minute warning, his deep ball to Nelson was picked off by Ricardo Allen. This allowed the Falcons to extend their dominance even further as Ryan drove up the field before finding Jones at the side of the end zone.Atlanta led 24-0 at half-time and it was the first time that the Packers had been shut out in the first-half of a football game since 2002.

Sides exchange touchdowns in second-half

The Falcons picked up where they left off and forced Green Bay to a three-and-out on the first drive of the second-half. Two plays into the next drive, Jones caught a pass and broke two tackles before bursting down the side-line and into the end zone for a 73-yard touchdown.

Rodgers led the Packers offense 75-yards down the field to get on the board on the next drive when he threw to Adams from two-yards.

Jones made the play of the game when he brought in a pass before being flipped over mid-air, but the hosts continued and extended their lead further. Ryan threw to Freeman for a four-yard touchdown to extend Atlanta’s lead even further, but the score was confirmed only after the hosts reviewed the original call by the officials – that the receiver was down at the one-yard line.

Ruthless Atlanta close out emphatic winners

Rodgers started to hurry up his offense, and connected with Nelson for a four-yard score on the next drive before Ripkowski bundled up the middle into the end zone for the two-point conversion.

Sanu almost broke free down the side-line after recovering the onside kick, but was brought down by a last-ditch tackle.

A few plays later, and Ryan tosses to Coleman, who rushed to the outside and into the end zone for a three-yard score. Green Bay rounded off their next drive with Rodgers finding Cook at the back of the end zone, but the two-point conversion from Christine Michael was unsuccessful.

The result was confirmed, a fantastic NFC Championship game came to a close and the Georgia Dome was given the send-off that it thoroughly deserved – with the Falcons lifting the trophy and booking their place in Super Bowl 51.