WASHINGTON — The champions of the American Football and National Football Conferences have officially been crowned–both cases in blowout fashion. Here’s a first look.
How They Got There: Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons advance after a decisive bludgeoning of the Green Bay Packers at home, sending them to the Super Bowl for the first time in 18 years. The 44-21 victory came in the team’s last game ever at the Georgia Dome, as they will move across the street to the brand new, state-of-the-art Mercedes-Benz Stadium next year.
The game got out of hand early, as the Packers, who were ravaged with injuries and illness, fell behind by 24 points at halftime, a first in the Aaron Rodgers era (since 2008). The Falcons, meanwhile, piled up 325 yards of total offense and 20 first downs before heading to the locker room for halftime.
It was a total team loss for the Packers, including Mason Crosby, who missed a 41-yard field goal, the first missed kick from any kicker in this postseason.
Local Connections: Former Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is the mastermind behind one of the hottest offenses in the NFL. He is aided by former Redskins assistants Raheem Morris, Matt LaFleur, Bobby Turner, Chris Morgan and Mike McDaniel.
Former Redskins on the roster include Chris Chester, Aldrick Robinson and Nick Williams.
Head coach Dan Quinn is a product of Salisbury University in Maryland.
How They Got There: New England Patriots
The New England Patriots also took care of business at home, punishing the Pittsburgh Steelers to the tune of 36-17. Steelers workhorse Le’Veon Bell was lost to a groin injury early and the Steelers defense did little against Tom Brady and the Pats.
This is the Patriots’ seventh AFC Championship under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, and the eighth in the last 20 years. The Pats have won four of those Super Bowls, most recently in Super Bowl XLIX.
This marks another remarkable turn around season for Brady, who was suspended for the first four games for his role Deflategate, dating back to the 2014 season. After returning, he put together one of the most statistically impressive seasons ever, with 28 touchdowns in 12 games, vs. just two interceptions.
Local Connections: No connections to the Redskins at the professional level.