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Falcons fly past Seahawks, headed to NFC Championship

The Atlanta Falcons are headed to the NFC Championship game.

Facing one of the NFC's power teams of the past five seasons, it was the Falcons, not the playoff-tested Seattle Seahawks, that made the big plays when it counted. And when it was all over, a raucous Georgia Dome was left celebrating a scoreboard that read Falcons 36, Seahawks 20.

The first series of the game wasn't what the Falcons would have wanted, but they controlled just about every part of the game after that.

Atlanta got another big performance from the league's top offense, and big plays from a defense that has looked like a different unit for the past seven weeks.

After allowing Seattle to march 86-yards in 14 plays on the game's opening drive, Atlanta found themselves in a 7-0 hole. But a special teams penalty and a defensive score from an unexpected source became a big turning point.

With Seattle ahead 10-7 in the second quarter, it looked like they might have a chance to extend their lead. Punt returner Devin Hester took a punt 80 yards to the Falcons 7, but a holding penalty against Seattle moved it all the way back to the Seattle 7. Essentially, it was an 86-yard penalty.

Two plays later, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was tripped by one of his own linemen and was tapped down by Ben Garland in the endzone for the safety. Garland, usually a guard, occasionally sees time as a defensive lineman.

That kicked off a 19-0 scoring run that put Atlanta ahead 26-10, and the Falcons were in near complete control the rest of the way.

Matt Ryan threw for 338 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions. He again went over 100 in passer rating, finishing with a 125.7 mark. Three Falcons finished with over 50 receiving yards in Julio Jones, Taylor Gabriel and Devonta Freeman.

Atlanta's defense slammed the door on Seattle at the end, and fourth quarter interceptions from Ricardo Allen and Deion Jones prevented any serious comeback from the Seahawks.

Tevin Coleman and Freeman showed their dominance once again, combining for 204 total yards of offense.

The Falcons know they will be playing in the NFC Championship game next weekend, but they won't know where, or who the opponent is until tomorrow. If the Dallas Cowboys beat the Green Bay  Packers tomorrow in the NFC's other Divisional Round playoff game, Atlanta would head to Dallas next weekend. However, if Green Bay is able to win in Dallas, the Packers would travel to Atlanta to take on the Falcons, with the winner going to the Super Bowl. 

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