ATLANTA — Matt Ryan tumbled into the end zone, slammed the ball to the turf with a thunderous spike, and let out a scream that showed just how much he wanted this game.
He wants the next one even more.
With another MVP-worthy performance and plenty of help from Julio Jones, Matty Ice guided the Atlanta Falcons to a 44-21 rout of the Green Bay Packers for the NFC championship Sunday, a showing that erased any doubts about whether Ryan can win the big games.
In his ninth season, he’s finally headed to his first Super Bowl .
Call him Super Matty.
“We’ll enjoy it because it’s hard to get to this point. I know that from experience,” Ryan said. “But our ultimate goal is still in front of us.”
The Falcons (13-5) will face New England on Feb. 5 in Houston, just the second Super Bowl appearance in Atlanta’s 51-year history. Eighteen years ago, they lost to Denver in John Elway’s final game.
Ryan threw for 392 yards and four touchdowns, but it was his 14-yard scoring run — his first TD on the ground since 2012 — that really set the tone .
Jones was right in the middle of things, too. After barely practicing during the week because of a lingering toe injury, he finished off the Packers with a 73-yard catch-and-run on Atlanta’s second snap of the second half, pushing the lead to 31-0 and essentially turning the rest of the Georgia Dome finale into one long celebration.
“He’s a beast,” Ryan said. “I’ve been lucky to play with him as long as I have. He was impressive today. I know he wasn’t feeling his best, but he’s a warrior.”
Jones finished with nine catches for 180 yards and two scores, which included a toe-dragging catch for a 5-yard touchdown with 3 seconds left in the first half, sending the Falcons to the locker room up 24-0.
The play that showed every one of Jones’ remarkable skills, however, the 73-yard catch-and-run. He blazed down the middle of the field, shook off LaDarius Gunter’s attempt to grab him on a cut toward the sideline, hauled in the pass from Ryan, broke Gunter’s diving attempt at tackle, and defiantly knocked away Damarious Randall’s with a brutal stiff-arm.
“I didn’t practice that much throughout the week,” Jones said, “but today I came out and gave it all I had.”
Ryan sparked more delirious chants of “MVP! MVP! MVP!” as he carved up an injury-plagued Packers secondary that had no way of stopping a team that averaged nearly 34 points a game during the regular season and romped to a 36-20 victory against Seattle’s Legion of Boom last week.
The Packers, riding an eight-game winning streak and coming off a thrilling upset of the top-seeded Dallas Cowboys, were no match for Atlanta.
“Their offense is hot right now,” Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers said. “Playing a team like that, you’ve got to start faster. We had no points in the first half. You’re not going to win many games like that.”