Green Bay Packers (12-6) 48, Atlanta Falcons (13-4) 21
NFC DIVISIONAL - Saturday January 15th 2011 (at Atlanta)
(ATLANTA) - Aaron Rodgers threw for three touchdowns and ran for another score, as Green Bay pounded Atlanta, 48-21, to advance to the NFC Championship Game. Tramon Williams picked off Matt Ryan twice late in the second quarter, returning one interception 70 yards for a score on the first half's final play, helping the Packers gain a trip to the conference title contest for the second time in four years. Rodgers was able to escape pressure and completed 31-of-36 passes for 366 yards as Green Bay set a franchise playoff scoring record. Greg Jennings caught eight passes for 101 yards for the sixth-seeded Packers. Atlanta came into Saturday's game as the top seed in the conference after surging to a 13-3 regular season mark. The Falcons were ahead 14-7 after Eric Weems ran a kickoff back a team-record 102 yards for a score in the second quarter, but the Packers responded with five straight TDs to take control. Williams is quickly becoming a hero of sorts for the Packers. Last week, he picked off Michael Vick in the end zone in the final minute in Green Bay's 21-16 victory in Philadelphia in the opening round of the playoffs. This time around, his 70-yard return gave the Packers a 28-14 cushion. Rodgers is also making a name for himself since taking over for future Hall of Famer Brett Favre. He has thrown 10 TD passes over his first three playoff starts, surpassing Hall of Famer Dan Marino, Jeff George and Daryle Lamonica for the most scoring tosses in the first three postseason starts of any quarterback in NFL history. Ryan connected on 20-of-29 passes and one TD, but the Falcons turned the ball over four times after having just 17 giveaways the entire season. Michael Turner gained only 39 yards on the ground and had a TD run, but the downfall for the Falcons was their defense as the Packers converted 8-of-12 third down opportunities and held a 442-194 total yardage advantage. Green Bay, which lost to the Giants in its most recent trip to the NFC Championship Game, hasn't been to the Super Bowl since the 1997 season when the Packers lost the Denver. The Packers are just one step away from a trip to Arlington. Ryan, who threw only nine interceptions during the regular season, was victimized by two pick offs, both from Williams in the final 2:20 of the half. Facing a 3rd-and-21 from the 26, Ryan's pass fluttered to the end zone. Michael Jenkins was the intended target, but he slipped to the ground, allowing Williams to come up with the ball. Rodgers then engineered an 80-yard drive for the go-ahead score, finishing it with a 20-yard toss to James Jones, who made a leaping grab all while fending off cornerback Brent Grimes. That gave the Packers a 21-14 edge with 42 seconds remaining. Two pass interference penalties by Green Bay then allowed the Falcons to advance the ball to the Green Bay 26, but Ryan was sacked and then the third- year pro made a crucial error. Ryan rolled to his left and threw to the sideline for Roddy White, but Williams read the pattern and made the interception before rumbling to the end zone to close the half and shock the Georgia Dome crowd. Rodgers led the Packers on a 12-play, 80-yard drive to start the third quarter, ending the march with a seven-yard scramble up the middle and dive into the end zone. It only got worse for the Falcons, as Michael Koenen punted 21 yards to set up Green Bay at midfield. Rodgers finished that drive with a seven-yard TD strike to John Kuhn with 2:41 left in the quarter. White caught a six-yard scoring pass from Ryan in the opening minute of the fourth, but the Atlanta QB fumbled the ball away with 11:39 left. Mason Crosby, who hit the left upright on a missed 50-yard field goal try early in the fourth, made kicks of 43 and 32 yards later in the final quarter. The Packers turned the ball over on just their third offensive play of the night. Rodgers, faced with a 3rd-and-13 from the eight, found Jennings over the middle for a 30-yard gain, but linebacker Stephen Nicholas stripped the ball away from behind and it caromed to Grimes. That gave the Falcons the ball at the Green Bay 48, and the hosts converted the turnover into seven points with Turner shedding tacklers on his 12-yard burst up the middle into the end zone. The Packers came right back with a 13-play, 81-yard scoring march that ate up nearly eight minutes. Rodgers completed all seven of his passes for 48 yards, the last coming on a six-yard pass to Jordy Nelson with 12:04 left in the second quarter. He caught the ball on the left side of the field, and while being forced out of bounds reached the football to make contact with the pylon for the TD. The tie score lasted all of 14 seconds as Weems rumbled a Falcons playoff- record 102 yards with the ensuing kickoff return, hitting a wedge up the middle and eluding Crosby near midfield before taking the ball into open field. Green Bay was forced to start from its own eight after James Starks muffed the kickoff return, but Rodgers used big passes to Donald Driver and Jones to get the ball deep in Atlanta territory. The Falcons then sacked Rodgers on third down at the nine, but CB Christopher Owens was penalized for illegal contact. Two plays after a pass interference call in the end zone, Kuhn powered off right guard for the tying score with 6:06 left in the half.  
GREEN BAY -  0 28 14  6 - 48
ATLANTA   -  7  7  0  7 - 21
                       GREEN BAY       ATLANTA
First downs                   28            15
Rush-yards-TDs           31-96-2       14-45-1
Comp-Att-Yd-TD-INT 31-36-366-3-0 20-29-186-1-2
Sacked-yards                2-20          5-37
Net pass yards               346           149
Total yards                  442           194
Fumbles-lost                 1-1           2-2
Turnovers                      1             4
Penalties-yards             6-65          7-32
SCORING
1st - ATL - Michael Turner, 12-yard run (Matt Bryant kick) ATLANTA 7-0
2nd - GB - Nelson, 6-yard pass from Rodgers (Crosby kick) TIED 7-7
2nd - ATL - Eric Weems, 102-yard kickoff return (Bryant kick) ATLANTA 14-7
2nd - GB - Kuhn, 1-yard run (Crosby kick) TIED 14-14
2nd - GB - J. Jones, 20-yard pass from Rodgers (Crosby kick) GREEN BAY 21-14
2nd - GB - T. Williams, 70-yard interception return (Crosby kick) GREEN BAY 28-14
3rd - GB - Rodgers, 7-yard run (Crosby kick) GREEN BAY 35-14
3rd - GB - Kuhn, 7-yard pass from Rodgers (Crosby kick) GREEN BAY 42-14
4th - ATL - Roddy White, 6-yard pass from Ryan (Bryant kick) GREEN BAY 42-21
4th - GB - Crosby, 43-yard field goal GREEN BAY 45-21
4th - GB - Crosby, 32-yard field goal GREEN BAY 48-21
RUSHING
GREEN BAY - James Starks 25-66, Aaron Rodgers 2-13 1 TD, Brandon Jackson 1-13, John Kuhn 2-5, Matt Flynn 1-(-1)
ATLANTA - Michael Turner 10-39 1 TD, Gartrell Johnson 1-4, Jason Snelling 1-1, Ovie Mughelli 1-1, Matt Ryan 1-0
PASSING
GREEN BAY - Aaron Rodgers 36-31-366 3 TD
ATLANTA - Matt Ryan 39-20-186 1 TD 2 INT
RECEIVING
GREEN BAY - Greg Jennings 8-101, Jordy Nelson 8-79 1 TD, Donald Driver 6-76, James Jones 4-75 1 TD, John Kuhn 2-14 1 TD, Andrew Quarless 2-14, Brandon Jackson 1-7
ATLANTA - Michael Jenkins 6-67, Roddy White 6-57 1 TD, Brian Finneran 4-47, Jason Snelling 2-6, Tony Gonzalez 1-7, Harry Douglas 1-2
ABOVE - B.J. Raji wraps up Falcons QB Matt Ryan for a sack
BELOW - Packers cornerback Tramon Williams (38) is congratulated by teammates Erik Walden (left) and Nick Collins after picking off a pass in the end zone against the Falcons. (PHOTO: Mark Hoffman - Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)