Falcons vs. Patriots, Super Bowl LI: 5 early thoughts

Even the most meticulous of nitpickers would have to look hard to find fault with the Falcons' performance Sunday, a game that set them up for a Super Bowl XLI showdown in Houston with the New England Patriots.

"We'll see if we can write the flawless ending in a couple weeks", Tom Brady said.

The Falcons have a seemingly unstoppable passing game featuring Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, while the Patriots have some fella named Tom Brady who may or may not be darn good at football quarterbacking. The Falcons beat out the Green Bay Packers 44-21 on Sunday.

"If you're mentally weak enough to buy into it and feel like it's the deciding factor, then you shouldn't be playing this sport", Ramon Foster had told a reporter earlier in the week. NFC champion Atlanta (13-5) has won its past six in a row, scoring at least 33 points in each. "You don't just rest on this and think, 'Oh, we can do the same thing.' We've got to take some steps and get a lot better for next year". He has not made a public appearance in Foxboro since the Deflategate scandal hit Brady with a four-game suspension at the start of the season.

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"This team showed a lot of mental toughness over the course of the year", Brady said.

It was the first multi-touchdown game of Hogan's career - regular or postseason.

Tom Brady was at his playoff best in completing 32 of 42 passes for 384 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. "We'll be ready to go".

"We're going to the Super Bowl", Mingo replied.

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After a 28-yard field goal by Atlanta kicker Matt Bryant to make it 10-0, the Falcons' defense recorded its 10th consecutive game with a takeaway as cornerback Jalen Collins forced and recovered a fumble from fullback Aaron Ripkowski with 10:59 left in the second quarter.

It's a question Brady doesn't quite understand. You have to go back to the last time Atlanta played in the Super Bowl, when Denver won its second consecutive title, to find a favorite with the big game edge who won and covered.

The Steelers lead all National Football League teams with six Lombardis, two of which were won in the 2000s.

- The 36-17 win by the Patriots over the Steelers improved the Patriots record to 9-4 in AFC Championship Games. (For what it's worth, the SRS has New England by 0.8 over Atlanta).

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