Black Quarterback: Conference Championship Review
By Brandon Simmons
Defending the Nest
The Atlanta Falcons destroyed the Green Bay Packers 44-21 and have punched their 2nd ever ticket to a Super Bowl and the Falcons offense might not be the entire reason for this victory. Atlanta’s defense subtly was the hero of this game as they beat up a Packers offense that was essentially beat up with injuries coming into this game.
Defensively, the Falcons probably played a game better than anyone expected them to. They were able to get after Aaron Rodgers and stop him from making big plays throughout the game. You saw this happen with a variety of blitzes. The Falcons ran a slot blitz a few times that greatly affected Rodgers’ downfield passing. When the Falcons weren’t slowing down the passing attack of the Packers, they made sure the running game was non-existent. Just like the first game, Rodgers led Green Bay in rushing because Atlanta shut down the running backs. Packers running backs Tye Montgomery and Christine Michael combined for 9 rushes and 28 yards while Rodgers was the leading rusher for 46 yards.
This game was the perfect recipe for a shootout performance from both teams. They both have suspect defenses with very stout quarterbacks and their first matchup was a nail biter. But nobody thought that the Falcons would jump to a 31-0 lead against the hottest team in the league right now, even with all the ailments that have plagued both sides of the ball for the Packers. Now that the Falcons have discovered a defensive attack, that could aid in them discovering a Lombardi trophy in a few weeks.
Brady’s Back in It
The New England Patriots are back in their fans’ graces after beating down the Pittsburgh Steelers 36-17; and it wasn’t even that close. Of course, head coach Bill Belichick used his same defensive mantra of taking away the opponent’s best player, which was Antonio Brown. Brown finished the game with 7 catches for 77 yards. That’s not a bad number but it wasn’t as effective as the Steelers would have liked it to be. The Patriots also benefitted from the fact that Le’Veon Bell had to leave the game because of a groin injury. Yet the big story coming out of this game still Tom Brady.
The Patriots quarterback put on another amazing performance going 32 out of 42 for 384 yards and 3 touchdowns. He took advantage of a Steelers defense that left wide receiver Chris Hogan wide open on multiple plays, including a flea flicker in the 2nd quarter which was his 2nd touchdown of the night. Hogan actually finished with 9 catches and a franchise postseason record of 180 receiving yards. With this win, Brady has a chance to surpass Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw’s 4 Super Bowl rings with his 5th championship.
A lot of teams are not trying to see Tom Brady in playoff season. He already has 23 postseason wins and pretty much has adapted to the “big stage” effect of the postseason. His main focus now is just studying the opponent and focusing on what he needs to do to leave out with the gold.
As for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers, their “run the table” methods were valiant but eventually it caught up to them. At one point, people doubted whether or not these two teams would even make the playoffs but obviously they changed all that. Running the table at the end of the year is a good story but those early season losses will catch up to you and take away your chances for homefield advantage, which was proven to be huge for the teams that are heading into the Super Bowl.
As for the Falcons and Patriots, it is a game that will feature the past and the present of dominant quarterbacks. Also, two of the NFL’s most powerful offenses will be on display as well. Belichick will have his work cut out for him as he figures out how to contain the wide receivers of Atlanta and their speedy running backs. This game will probably make up for the blowouts that have happened during this postseason but until then…I’ll holla.
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