After a very exciting postseason, the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots will meet for Super Bowl LI in Houston. As the Conference Championship games have been completed, there were plenty of winners and losers from last Sunday.
An MVP-caliber season continued Sunday, where quarterback Matt Ryan proved how dominant he can be. After scoring five total touchdowns Sunday, Ryan showed that he deserved to be in the Super Bowl. Struggling during his early playoff games, Ryan showed leadership and maturity during Sunday’s game that has given him the opportunity of competing on the biggest stage.
Julio Jones is easily in the discussion for best receiver in the NFL. Although injuries have held him back in the past, he has stayed relatively healthy during the 2016 except for a nagging foot injury that kept him out over the last portion of the season. Sunday against a suspect Packers’ secondary, he caught 9 catches for a whopping 190 yards receiving, including 2 touchdowns, which was very impressive considering the circumstances of a Super Bowl birth on the table.
Who would have thought that Rodgers would even be in this category? After an impressive postseason, a big performance was expected out of Rodgers.
That was not the case Sunday. Pressure over the course of the game prevented Rodgers from being comfortable throwing the football. This lead to many forced throws that could have been picked off multiple times.
He ended the day with 3 touchdown passes and one interception, but the stats don’t tell the whole story. The Packers were shut out in the first half, and two touchdowns occurred during ‘garbage time’ (considering the score) in the second half. After an MVP season, Rodgers disappointed many with his performance.
Missing four games at the beginning of the season didn’t affect Tom Brady much all season, and it showed as his strive for excellence during the playoffs. After a shaky win against the Texans in the divisional round, Brady bounced back with an impressive 3 Touchdown performance in a blowout win against the struggling Steelers’ secondary. A great performance leading his team down the field allowed the Patriots to clinch a trip to the Super Bowl hoping to get their 5th Lombardi trophy.
Chris Hogan has been around the league quite a bit. Coming into the league as an undrafted free agent, who only had one year experience of college football, Hogan worked his way up and earned a contract with the New England Patriots the past offseason. Sunday, he proved that he could be a playmaker on the team. Getting 9 catches 180 yards and 2 touchdowns, Hogan was a big surprise. After not eclipsing 100 yard games consistently over the season, an almost 200 yard game was a very impressive feat for a very underrated player.
An established veteran quarterback, Roethlisberger disappointed many Sunday. Even with a very good Patriots secondary, he was not as accurate as he normally is.
Missed opportunities prevented the Steelers from staying in the game as Big Ben missed multiple receivers. On a 3rd and goal, wide receiver Eli Rodgers looked like he could take a pass in for the score, but Roethlisberger missed him wide and the Steelers ended up failing on 4th down the previous play. A very inaccurate night was a major component of the Steelers not making it to another Super Bowl.
Antonio Brown has been a huge impact player for the Steelers and the 2016 season was no different. During Sunday’s AFC Championship game however, Brown was not able to dominate like we’re accustomed to seeing. He finished the game with 7 catches for 77 yards, but it was an average performance to say the least. Being known as one of the best receivers in the league, a better performance was expected even though he was double covered through most of the game.