Jan 22 (Reuters) - Matt Ryan piloted the high-flying Atlanta Falcons to a 44-21 rout of the Green Bay Packers in the National Football Conference Championship game on Sunday to advance to the Super Bowl for just the second time.
Ryan underlined his credentials as the favorite for NFL most valuable player honors, throwing for four touchdowns and running for another to reach the Feb. 5 Super Bowl in Houston where Atlanta will take on either the New England Patriots or Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Falcons celebrated the last game to be played at the Georgia Dome with an awesome display of offensive fireworks piling up 493 total yards to get back to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1999 and a chance to claim the franchise’s first NFL championship.
What was expected to be a shootout between two of the league’s supercharged attacks was instead a lopsided affair as the Falcons stormed to an early lead and never looked back as Ryan completed 27-of-38 passes for 392 yards.
Ryan’s favorite target Julio Jones hauled in nine catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns.
Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers never got the Packers offense in gear. The Packers were shutout in the opening half and trailed 31-0 before finally getting on the scoreboard.
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Andrew Both)