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Blowout in Atlanta Vaults Pack into NFC Championship Game (01/19/2011)
By Dave DeLano

Aaron Rodgers was absolutely awesome leading the underdog Green Bay Packers to a 48 – 21 victory over the number-one seeded Atlanta Falcons Saturday evening. In doing so, the Packers set a team record for most playoff points scored dating back some 43 games. The victory puts the Packers into the NFC Championship game next week against the archrival Chicago Bears in what should be one whale of a football game.

The Packers dominated the Falcons with an unstoppable aerial assault and a swarming defense that shut down the Falcons’ potent running game. The Falcons had no clue what to do with Rodgers’ passing prowess as he played the game of his career. Rodgers led one long scoring drive after another, throwing for three touchdowns and running for another. Whenever the Falcons pass rush got near him, Rodgers would pull a Harry Houdini move, buying extra time to make a play. Four Packer receivers had 75 yards or more. So efficient was the offense that the Packers did not have to punt all afternoon.

In the first half near the goal line, the Packers inserted 340-pound nose tackle B. J. Raji as a blocking fullback reminiscent of what the Chicago Bears did years ago with William “The Refrigerator” Perry. It worked as John Kuhn ran behind Raji into the end zone for a touchdown. Perry occasionally got to carry the ball. I wonder if the Packers have a Raji run in their playbook.

It seemed as though just about everything went the Packers’ way against the Falcons this time around with the exception of a 101-yard kickoff return the special teams surrendered. Tramon Williams countered with a 70-yard interception which he returned for a touchdown. Williams had two excellent interceptions Saturday and has developed into one of the finest defensive backs in the NFL. The Packer defense did a very nice job of mixing up their blitzes. The confusion contributed to four Atlanta turnovers on the day.

The win sets up a playoff match between the two most storied franchises in the NFL. The Packers and Bears are 1– 1 this year in their divisional contests, each winning at home. The Bears’ forte is their special teams and their defense. Devin Hester is no doubt the best kick returner in the NFL and it will be interesting to see how the Packers defend him this time around. Even though the Bears’ defense is good, if Rodgers and company can put together another performance like against the Falcons, they will win easily.

The Packers’ defense measures up favorably against Jay Cutler. Cutler can be rattled easily with pressure and when that comes he is prone to toss up some opportunities for the Packers’ aggresive defensive backs. A turnover or two could spell the difference in this game. There likely won’t be many surprises in this game as both sides know the other very well. The Packers need to play like they did last week and they will be Super Bowl bound.



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