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Falcons dominate Packers to advance to Super Bowl LI

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In the final NFL game played at the Georgia Dome, the Atlanta Falcons closed out their home of 25 years in style by demolishing the Green Bay Packers 44-21 to advance to the franchise's second Super Bowl.

Matt Ryan outplayed Aaron Rodgers in a matchup of MVP candidates, passing for four touchdowns and rushing for another one to deliver the signature postseason performance of his career. He racked up 392 passing yards -- 271 of which came in the first half -- coming up four yards short of the NFC Championship Game record he set in 2012 in a loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

The Falcons did their best to wrap this one up by halftime, as they went into the locker room up 24-0. It was the first time Green Bay had been shut out in the first half of a playoff game since Atlanta went into Lambeau Field in 2002 and shocked the Packers 27-7 on the shoulders of Michael Vick. It also marked the largest halftime deficit Rodgers had ever faced.

Atlanta opened the proceedings by finding the end zone on their first possession for the eighth straight game via a two-yard touchdown catch by Mohamed Sanu. Green Bay responded by driving 52 yards in seven plays, but kicker Mason Crosby snapped his NFL-record streak of 23 straight made postseason field goals by pushing a 41-yard attempt wide right.

That was the first of many uncharacteristic mistakes by the Packers.

On their next drive, fullback Aaron Ripkowski fumbled within Atlanta's 10-yard line to waste a golden scoring opportunity. That was the first fumble by any Packer since Week 13.

The Falcons took advantage of the miscue by methodically putting together a nine-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 14-yard touchdown run by Ryan. They tacked on another touchdown in the second quarter on a five-yard touchdown reception from Julio Jones after Rodgers threw an interception on a long pass intended for Jordy Nelson.

Though the Packers finally got on the scoreboard in the second half with three passing touchdowns from Rodgers, it was too little, too late.

Jones (9 receptions, 180 yards, two touchdowns) staked his claim as the NFL's best receiver, becoming the first player in league history with multiple playoff games of at least 150 receiving yards and two touchdowns. His 73-yard catch-and-run touchdown early in the third quarter provided the best highlight of the game. He stiff-armed several Green Bay defenders to the turf en route to the end zone, padding the Falcons lead to 31-0 and essentially erasing any hope of a Packers comeback.

10 PHOTOS
The best photos from NFL Divisional Round playoff games
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The best photos from NFL Divisional Round playoff games
ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15: Micah Hyde #33, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix #21, and Josh Hawkins #28 of the Green Bay Packers celebrate in the second half during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15: Jared Cook #89 of the Green Bay Packers makes a catch while being defended by Morris Claiborne #24 of the Dallas Cowboys in the second half during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at AT&T Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Jan 14, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) is knocked into the end zone for a safety by the Atlanta Falcons during the second quarter in the NFC Divisional playoff at Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15: Running back Spencer Ware #32 of the Kansas City Chiefs spikes the ball after a touchdown run against Pittsburgh Steelers during the second half in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14: (EDITORS NOTE: Retransmission with alternate crop.) Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots reacts as he runs onto the field prior to the AFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on January 14, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix #21 of the Green Bay Packers tackles Terrance Williams #83 of the Dallas Cowboys in the second half during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at AT&T Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Chris Conley catches a first down pass in front of Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ross Cockrell in the fourth quarter during the AFC Divisional Playoff game on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. (John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS via Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15: Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Brice Butler (19) cannot make the catch during the NFC Divisional Playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers on January 15, 2017, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. Green Bay defeats Dallas 34-31. (Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 14: New England Patriots fans watching action during the Houston Texans Vs New England Patriots Divisional round game during the NFL play-offs on January 14th, 2017 at Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
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