NEWS
01/22/2017 13:50 EST | Updated 01/23/2018 00:12 EST

The Latest: Falcons roll 44-21 to reach Super Bowl

The Latest on the NFL conference championship games (all times Eastern):

___

6:40 p.m.

The Atlanta Falcons are headed to their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history after routing the Green Bay Packers 44-21 in the NFC championship game.

Matt Ryan threw for four touchdowns, including a 73-yard catch-and-run for a highlight-reel score by star receiver Julio Jones. The defence played just as crucial a role in containing quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' offence.

Rodgers had 287 yards with three touchdown passes and an interception. But the Falcons got to Rodgers with pressure and forced two Green Bay turnovers. Rodgers was outplayed by Ryan, who even ran for a 14-yard touchdown.

Atlanta will play either New England or Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl on Feb. 5 in Houston.

The only other time that Atlanta made the Super Bowl was in the 1998 season. The Falcons lost 34-19 to the Denver Broncos.

The Packers fell in the NFC title game for the second time in three seasons.

___

5:44 p.m.

The Green Bay Packers' injury woes continued to grow as linebacker Jake Ryan became the fourth player to be ruled out with an injury.

Ryan left the game in the third quarter with a shoulder injury.

Also in the third quarter, starting right guard T.J. Lang was taken to the locker room with a foot injury. Running back Ty Montgomery left with a rib injury.

In the first half, the Packers lost safeties Kentrell Brice and Micah Hyde and left guard Lane Taylor to injuries.

Falcons centre Alex Mack returned after leaving the game briefly with an apparent lower left leg injury.

The Packers trail the Falcons 37-15.

— Charles Odum reporting from Atlanta

___

5:37 p.m.

The Falcons are an offensive machine that appears to be pushing the franchise to its second trip to the Super Bowl in franchise history.

Matt Ryan's fourth TD pass covered 4 yards to running back Devonta Freeman, putting Atlanta up 37-7 over Green Bay in the NFC championship game.

Ryan has completed 25 of 35 passes for 371 yards and no picks, further fueling his candidacy for NFL MVP.

The fans are loving every minute of it with the Georgia Dome erupting all afternoon with "MVP! MVP! MVP!"

— George Henry reporting from Atlanta.

___

5:16 p.m.

The Green Bay Packers won their last six games of the regular season by being taking care of the ball on offence and forcing turnovers on defence.

But it's the Packers making mistakes in the NFC championship against Atlanta.

The Packers turned the ball over twice in the first half, and the Falcons cashed in each time with touchdowns.

Green Bay's defence has missed out on turnovers. Defensive backs Marwin Evans and LaDarius Gunter each got their hands on potential interceptions, while linebacker Jake Ryan couldn't recover a fumble.

During Green Bay's six-game win streak, the Packers had 15 takeaways to just one giveaway.

The Packers finally scored in the third quarter with a Aaron Rodgers pass to Davante Adams , cutting the Falcons lead to 31-7.

___

5:02 p.m.

Julio Jones is having one of the best games of his distinguished career.

The sixth-year receiver, in his second straight All-Pro season, has seven catches for 144 yards, and it's still early in the third quarter.

Jones showed why he's arguably the NFL's most elite wideout on a 73-yard touchdown catch down the right sideline, giving the Falcons a 31-0 lead over Green Bay.

Jones was held by cornerback LaDarius Gunter before the catch, pulled the ball down, and broke off the tackle attempt. Cornerback Damarious Randall tried to bring down the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Jones a few yards later, only to get stiff-armed.

Jones danced briefly to stay in bounds before crossing the goal line.

— George Henry reporting from Atlanta

___

The Green Bay Packers have lost safeties Kentrell Brice and Micah Hyde and left guard Lane Taylor to injuries in Sunday's NFC championship game against Atlanta.

Brice suffered a shoulder injury on the opening kickoff. Hyde hurt his shoulder late in the first half.

Lane, a starter, hurt his left knee late in the first half.

The Packers say the three will not return.

Falcons centre Alex Mack returned after leaving the game briefly with an apparent lower left leg injury.

— Charles Odum reporting from Atlanta

___

4:45 p.m.

Even in the nose-bleed seats, most of the capacity crowd of 72,220 at the Georgia Dome stood throughout the first half as the Falcons took a 24-0 lead over Green Bay.

The 25-year-old building, slated for demolition later this year, was louder than it's ever been for a Falcons game, an appropriate ending with the team trying to earn just its second Super Bowl trip in 51 years.

Fans waved white towels and made hearing conditions tough for Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, who threw a long interception late in the second quarter that led to Julio Jones' 5-yard TD with 3 seconds left before halftime.

Atlanta has hosted seven playoff games at the Dome, but the higher the stakes, the harder it's been on the Falcons. The 2010 season ended with a blowout loss to the Packers, and four years ago they suffered a last-minute defeat to San Francisco.

— George Henry reporting from Atlanta.

___

4:15 p.m.

Matt Ryan had gone 82 games without a rushing touchdown before scrambling for a 14-yard score that put the Falcons up 17-0 midway through the second quarter.

The All-Pro QB loves to be self-deprecating about his lack of elite athleticism when running, and he looked a bit awkward as he dove across the goal line. But he faked out linebacker Joe Thomas to get the space he needed to reach the end zone.

— George Henry reporting from Atlanta.

___

4:02 p.m.

It's too early to call it a harbinger, but Green Bay is 0-4 in the post-season when trailing by 10 points after the first quarter.

The Packers came unhinged on their first two drives. Mason Crosby missed a 41-yard field goal and fullback Aaron Ripkowski had the ball stripped and recovered by cornerback Jalen Collins at the goal line.

Ripkowski burst through the line to the second level of the defence before losing the ball. He slammed his fist against the Georgia Turf in frustration.

The mistake was costly as Atlanta took possession and marched 80 yards in nine plays, making it 17-0 on Matt Ryan's 14-yard scramble.

— George Henry reporting from Atlanta.

___

3:40 p.m.

Mason Crosby missed a 41-yard field-goal attempt on Green Bay's opening drive, ending his NFL-record streak of 23 consecutive field goals in the post-season.

Crosby was wide-right on the kick.

Crosby has made 26 of 29 attempts in his post-season career.

— Charles Odum reporting from Atlanta

___

3:33 p.m.

Jordy Nelson may have broken ribs, but the Packers' leading receiver looks like his old self, catching passes for 27 and 15 yards from Aaron Rodgers on Green Bay's opening drive.

Nelson missed last week's win at Dallas and did not practice this week.

The drive fizzled on Mason Crosby's missed 41-yard field goal wide right and Atlanta leading 7-0.

— George Henry reporting from Atlanta

___

3:24 p.m.

Matt Ryan's 3-yard shovel pass to Mohamed Sanu has put the Falcons up 7-0 on Green Bay in the NFC championship game, giving Atlanta an opening-drive TD in eight straight games.

With other receivers covered, Ryan rolled out of the pocket to his left and pitched the ball to Sanu, who was wide open just inside the goal line. It was the third third down of the drive with catches by Julio Jones and Sanu. Fullback Patrick DiMarco had the biggest gain, catching a pass in the right flats for a 31-yard gain.https://twitter.com/NFL/status/823262750688149504

Ryan has thrown 15 TDs and no interceptions in the Falcons' last six games.

— George Henry reporting from Atlanta

___

The NFC championship game is expected to close out the Georgia Dome with a shootout, with oddsmakers expecting 60 points combined from the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers.

That game opens conference championship Sunday at 3:05 p.m. on Fox, with the winner headed to Super Bowl 51 in Houston to take on the winner of the late game between the Patriots and Steelers.

Pittsburgh is a 4 1/2-point underdog in New England, where the weather shouldn't be a huge factor. It's cloudy, but the temperature should not drop below 35 degrees. That game starts around 6:40 p.m. on CBS.

___

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL