NFL Conference Championship Recaps: Patriots & Falcons Win, Claim Super Bowl Berths
The New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons won their respective conference championship games on Sunday to advance to Super Bowl 51 in Houston on Feb. 5. Here's a recap of the day's action:
New England 36, Pittsburgh 17
Tom Brady threw for 384 yards and three touchdowns, and the New England Patriots beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 36-17, in the AFC championship game in Foxborough, Mass. on Sunday. As a result of the win, Brady and head coach Bill Belichick will make their record seventh Super Bowl appearance when the Pats face the Atlanta Falcons on Feb. 5 in Houston.
Chris Hogan caught nine passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns for New England. Julian Edelman had eight receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown. Brady completed 32 of 42 throws, while victimizing the Pittsburgh defense the entire game.
The Steelers lost running back Le'Veon Bell late in the first quarter to a groin injury, but that was just one factor that led to their defeat. The Steelers couldn’t effectively pressure Brady, and they couldn’t convert enough third downs to keep pressure on the Patriots.
Ben Roethlisberger threw for 314 yards and a score, with an interception, for Pittsburgh. The Steelers never had a lead in the game and never closed their 17-9 halftime deficit.
Atlanta 44, Green Bay 21
Matt Ryan threw for 392 yards and four touchdowns, and the Atlanta Falcons routed the Green Bay Packers, 44-21, in the NFC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome on Sunday.
The victory allowed Atlanta to advance to its second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.
The Falcons jumped out early and built a 24-0 halftime lead that all but decided the title game. Green Bay rallied slightly in the second half, but the Packers never closed within three touchdowns.
Julio Jones caught nine passes for 180 yards and two scores for Atlanta. His 5-yard TD reception just before halftime all but decided the game and the NFC’s Super Bowl representative.
Aaron Rodgers threw for 287 yards and three scores, with an interception, for Green Bay. He was sacked twice and pressured often, as the Falcons defense stepped up to help get its team to the Super Bowl.
The Packers two turnovers and their sputtering offense prevented the NFC North champs from keeping with Atlanta or rallying late in the game.
The Falcons will play the winner of Sunday night’s Steelers-Patriots AFC Championship in Super Bowl LI in Houston on Feb. 5.