Discount Double Check Strikes Again
After watching Mason Crosby kick a 56-yard field goal to take a 31-28 lead with 1:33 left in the fourth quarter, Dallas Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott knew he had to come up with an answer. Prescott marched the offense down the field, setting up kicker Dan Bailey with the opportunity to tie the game. Bailey made his 52-yard attempt look like an extra point, knocking it straight through the middle of the uprights with ease, tying the game at 31 and leaving 35 seconds on the clock. After two stops by Dallas and 12 seconds remaining, the Packers faced 3rd and 20 on their own 32-yard line. Rodgers took the snap out of the shotgun, rolled to his left and fired a perfect strike to Jared Cook on the Dallas 34-yard line with three seconds on the clock. Mason Crosby stepped up, hit a 51-yard field goal and booked Green Bay’s ticket to the NFC title game. After the game, Packers receiver Randall Cobb revealed that Aaron Rodgers simply made up the Packers’ final play in the huddle. That play was not in the team’s playbook. Rodgers told each of his receivers the route to run as if the NFC Playoffs were a game of schoolyard football. This moment of sheer brilliance from Rodgers — both in the huddle and on the field — reinforces the claim that he is one of the league’s best.
Home Sweet Dome
The Georgia Dome, the stadium the Atlanta Falcons have called home since 1992, hosts its 206th and final NFL game on Sunday as the Falcons play for the NFC title. Next season, the Atlanta Falcons will move across the street into Mercedes-Benz stadium, which has been in the works since 2010. The state-of-the-art facility will have a retractable roof, a glass exterior that can be opened to let in more air and a circular LED screen that will encircle the retractable roof on the inside of the stadium. For now, though, Atlanta comes into Sunday’s game riding an emphatic 36-20 victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday afternoon. Matt Ryan looks to continue his stellar play from last week as he lit up Seattle’s defense for 338 yards and three touchdowns, throwing no interceptions. Atlanta expects to see a large crowd for the final game in the dome and hopes to send its fans home with a Super Bowl to look forward to.
Winner and Loser
While the Green Bay Packers might be the popular pick, considering they are on an eight-game win streak, Atlanta is capable of repeating its victory over Green Bay from earlier this season to win the NFC Championship. I am predicting Atlanta for two reasons. First, with over 75,000 expected in Atlanta, the crowd is going to play a major factor in this game. The Atlanta fans are going to be loud and the dome is going to contain, echo and reverberate that noise. Second, while both offenses are firing on all cylinders, the Packers may be without primary receiving option Jordy Nelson, whose status for the game this Sunday remains unclear. Matt Ryan is going to have all his offensive weapons at his disposal in what is going to be an offensive shootout and looks to have all the makings of an instant classic.
Prediction: Atlanta 35, Green Bay 31
Matt Morrow is a sophomore in the College.
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