Final

Packers 48

(10-6, 3-5 away)

Falcons 21

(13-3, 7-1 home)

Coverage: FOX

8:00 PM ET, January 15, 2011

Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA 

1 2 3 4 T
GB 0 28 14 648
ATL 7 7 0 721

Top Performers

Passing: A. Rodgers (GB) - 366 YDS, 3 TD

Rushing: J. Starks (GB) - 25 CAR, 66 YDS

Receiving: G. Jennings (GB) - 8 REC, 101 YDS

Aaron Rodgers torches Falcons as Packers romp into NFC title game

Associated Press

ATLANTA -- As Aaron Rodgers trotted off the field, savoring another playoff win, he was serenaded with chants of "Go, Pack, Go!"

This wasn't Lambeau Field, but it sure sounded like it.

Looking very much at home, Rodgers threw three touchdown passes, ran for another score and led the Green Bay Packers to their second straight postseason road victory with a stunning 48-21 rout of the top-seeded Atlanta Falcons on Saturday night.

"This just feels so good right now," said Rodgers, who threw for 366 yards and led Green Bay to the highest-scoring playoff game in its storied history.

The Packers (12-6) will have to win one more on the road to complete their improbable run from sixth seed to the Super Bowl, but nothing looks out of the question the way Rodgers is playing. He'll lead Green Bay into the NFC championship game at either Chicago or Seattle next weekend.

"This probably was my best performance -- the stage we were on, the importance of this game," Rodgers said. "It was a good night."

He completed 31 of 36 passes and put up more yards than Brett Favre -- the guy he replaced in Green Bay -- ever threw for in a playoff game. After knocking off Michael Vick and the Eagles in Philadelphia, then dominating Matt Ryan and the Falcons in Atlanta, Rodgers is creating his own legacy in Titletown USA.

Green Bay scored 35 consecutive points, including Tramon Williams' 70-yard interception return on the final play of the first half that left the Falcons (13-4) and a crowd of more than 69,000 in a state of shock as the teams headed to the locker room.

The Packers could've left punter Tim Masthay at home. He was never needed.

"It was one of those nights," Rodgers said. "I felt like I was in the zone."

Ryan, who beat out Rodgers for a spot in the Pro Bowl, had a miserable night. He also was picked off in the end zone, costing Atlanta another scoring chance early on that might've changed the complexion of the game, and lost a fumble attempting a sneak. In two career playoff games, Matty Ice is 0-2 with six turnovers and a safety.

"Anytime you're in the playoffs, you have an opportunity to win it all," Ryan said. "When that doesn't happen, it's frustrating."

The Falcons went into the playoffs as the NFC's top-seeded team for only the second time in franchise history. The result was the same as it was during the 1980 season: one and done.

In the locker room afterward, coach Mike Smith tried to make sense of it for his players.

"I know they're disappointed. I'm disappointed. We're all disappointed," he said. "But we will learn from it. That's the important thing. We will learn from what took place this evening. I also told 'em, as bad as they feel right now, remember the whole body of work we put out there this year. We can't forget that either."

This game was pretty much over when Rodgers guided the Packers on an 80-yard drive to open the second half, running the last 7 yards for the TD that made it 35-14.

When Rodgers drove the Packers on yet another scoring drive, capped off with a 7-yard pass to John Kuhn late in the third quarter, thousands of red-clad fans headed for the exits, not even bothering to hang around for the final period of a magical season than turned into a green nightmare in the playoffs.

The Falcons simply couldn't stop Rodgers, who carved up the Atlanta defense on four drives of at least 80 yards.

Time after time, Rodgers ducked a shoulder or pulled off a nifty spin move to get away from a rusher, leaving him grasping at air. Rodgers put that extra time to good use, inevitably finding the open man in what became an increasingly tortured night for the Falcons.

"I had eyes in the back of my head," Rodgers quipped.

Early on, Rodgers spent plenty of time picking on Falcons nickel back Chris Owens, who was filling in for injured Brian Williams. Owens was twice called for penalties in a desperate bid to slow Rodgers and his deep receiving corps.

But no one on the Atlanta defense did much to stop Rodgers after the opening drive, when Stephen Nicholas chased down Greg Jennings from behind and forced a fumble that was recovered by Brett Grimes around midfield.

Atlanta quickly drove for the opening score, a 12-yard run by Michael Turner. Unfortunately for the Falcons, they had to give the ball back to Rodgers. And, as everyone soon discovered, there was no stopping No. 12. A 13-play, 81-yard drive evened the score, Rodgers finishing it off with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson.

The Falcons last gasp, as it turned out, was Eric Weems' 102-yard return on the ensuing kickoff, the longest return in NFL playoff history.

Rodgers went right back to work, even after the Packers bobbled the next kickoff out of bounds at the 8-yard line. That just gave their quarterback more room to work, and this time he guided the Packers 92 yards in 10 plays for Kuhn's 1-yard plunge that made it 14-all.

Ryan was the first to crack in this quarterback duel. He had the Falcons in scoring position again, but threw up a ball in the corner of the end zone for Michael Jenkins. When the receiver slipped, Williams jumped up for an interception.

Back to Rodgers, who needed only seven plays to torch the Falcons on an 80-yard drive. The touchdown was a perfectly thrown pass to James Jones along the side of the end zone, allowing the receiver to leap over shorter cornerback Brent Grimes for a 20-yard score with 48 seconds left in the first half.

At that point, it was still a game, the Packers up 21-14.

It wouldn't be that way for long.

Atlanta hustled into position to try a field goal before halftime, thanks to a pair of pass interference penalties. But Ryan was sacked by Clay Matthews with 10 seconds to go, forcing the Falcons to call their final timeout.

Instead of sending out Matt Bryant to attempt a 53-yard kick, coach Mike Smith wanted to get it a little closer. Bad move. The Packers knew Ryan had to throw it near the sideline to stop the clock, and Williams read the play perfectly.

The cornerback, who sealed the win over the Eagles by intercepting Vick in the end zone, stepped in front of a quick out pass intended for Roddy White, made a nice cut around midfield and was gone on a 70-yard interception return for a touchdown on the final play of the half.

"I recognized the formation," Williams said. "I knew they were trying to get into position for a field goal."

The crowd sat in stunned silence as the Packers knocked through the extra point then headed off the locker room with a 28-14 lead.

"Not a very good decision on my part," Ryan said. "I just needed to throw the ball away."

The second half was just one long victory lap for the Packers, whose hefty contingent of fans was able to move down right near the edge of the emptying Georgia Dome and cheer for their team.

For the Falcons, nothing but misery.

A long pass completion was overturned with a replay. Ryan turned it over for the third time, fumbling a snap while attempting a sneak on third-and-short. Michael Jenkins lost the ball after a catch, Atlanta's fourth turnover of the night.

And perhaps most painful to watch, Tony Gonzalez was injured on a catch late in the third quarter.

The guy who's caught more passes than any other tight end in NFL history came to Atlanta looking for the first playoff win of his career and perhaps his last shot at reaching the Super Bowl. But those hopes had long been dashed by the time he limped off the field, having sprained his right ankle.

He got taped up and returned to the bench, but there was nothing he could do but sit solemnly with his teammates, watching his postseason hopes dashed again.

Game notes


Green Bay rookie RB James Starks followed up his 123-yard performance against Philadelphia with another solid effort: 25 carries for 66 yards. ... The Falcons managed only 45 yards rushing. ... Ryan was sacked five times. ... The Packers were 8 of 12 on third-down conversions, while Atlanta was just 3 of 10.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
GB
ATL
1st Downs2815
Passing 1st downs
189
Rushing 1st downs
72
1st downs from penalties
34
3rd down efficiency
8-123-10
4th down efficiency
0-01-2
Total Plays6948
Total Yards442194
Yards per play6.44.0
Total Drives119
Passing346149
Comp-Att
31-3620-29
Yards per pass
9.14.4
Interceptions thrown
02
Sacks-Yards Lost
2-205-37
Rushing9645
Rushing Attempts
3114
Yards per rush
3.13.2
Red Zone (Made-Att)4-62-3
Penalties6-657-32
Turnovers14
Fumbles lost
12
Interceptions thrown
02
Defensive / Special Teams TDs11
Possession38:1921:41

Passing Leaders

GBC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Rodgers31/3636610.2302-20
ATLC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Ryan20/291866.4125-37

Rushing Leaders

GBCARYDSAVGTDLG
Starks25662.6013
Rodgers2136.517
ATLCARYDSAVGTDLG
Turner10393.9112
Johnson144.004

Receiving Leaders

GBRECYDSAVGTDLG
Jennings810112.6030
Nelson8799.9114
ATLRECYDSAVGTDLG
Jenkins66711.2022
White6579.5112

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERGBATL
atlTD5:07Michael Turner 12 Yard Run (Matt Bryant Kick is Good)
Drive info: 7 plays, 48 yds, 3:55
07
SECOND QUARTERGBATL
gbTD12:10Jordy Nelson 6 Yard Pass From Aaron Rodgers (Mason Crosby Kick is Good)
Drive info: 13 plays, 81 yds, 7:56
77
atlTD12:04Eric Weems 102 Yard Kickoff Return (Matt Bryant Kick is Good)
Drive info: 13 plays, 81 yds, 7:56
714
gbTD6:10John Kuhn 1 Yard Run (Mason Crosby Kick is Good)
Drive info: 10 plays, 92 yds, 5:44
1414
gbTD0:48James Jones 20 Yard Pass From Aaron Rodgers (Mason Crosby Kick is Good)
Drive info: 7 plays, 80 yds, 1:38
2114
gbTD0:10Tramon Williams 70 Yard Interception Return (Mason Crosby Kick is Good)
Drive info: 4 plays, 30 yds, 0:42
2814
THIRD QUARTERGBATL
gbTD8:42Aaron Rodgers 7 Yard Run (Mason Crosby Kick is Good)
Drive info: 12 plays, 80 yds, 6:32
3514
gbTD2:49John Kuhn 7 Yard Pass From Aaron Rodgers (Mason Crosby Kick is Good)
Drive info: 8 plays, 50 yds, 4:48
4214
FOURTH QUARTERGBATL
atlTD14:25Roddy White 6 Yard Pass From Matt Ryan (Matt Bryant Kick is Good)
Drive info: 7 plays, 73 yds, 3:20
4221
gbFG6:34Mason Crosby 43 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 8 plays, 19 yds, 5:10
4521
gbFG1:59Mason Crosby 32 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 6 plays, 19 yds, 3:36
4821

Research Notes

PackersAs quarterback of the Packers, Rodgers has directed two of the three highest-scoring performances by a road team in NFL postseason history.

  [+]

RodgersAaron Rogers had the second-highest completion percentage in a 300-yard passing game in NFL postseason history Saturday.

  [+]
The Packers become the 5th team in playoff history to score at least 28 points in a single quarter. It's the most in a quarter since the Eagles scored 31 in the second quarter of their 1995 Wild Card game vs the Lions.
  [+]

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