Atlanta is going to the Super Bowl because it walloped Green Bay in every meaningful way in a 44–21 win. The Falcons had a better quarterback than the Packers in the NFC championship game, and they also had a better offensive line, a better backfield, a better pass rush, a better linebacking corps, and a better secondary. It was a whooping, violent and vicious.
By focusing on the thoroughness of the beatdown, though, we gloss over the best part of the game: Atlanta wide receiver and kaiju Julio Jones, who finished with nine catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns. Much of Atlanta’s success is obviously due to the brilliant passing of Matt Ryan and the innovative scheming of coordinator Kyle Shanahan, but so much of it is fueled by Jones doing things that only he can.
We knew he’d be a problem for the Packers — he’s the NFL’s chosen one, and Green Bay allowed opponents to average 7.1 net yards per passing attempt this season, the third-highest total in football. But it was still magnificent to see him romp.
Here’s Jones ditching two defenders en route to a 73-yard touchdown in the third quarter:
Packers cornerbacks Ladarius Gunter and Damarious Randall each attempted to tackle Jones. Gunter’s attempt was hopeless, as he’d already been beaten by Jones, and was basically just diving at his feet to make it clear that he was trying. Randall at least had the opportunity to square Jones up, but was felled by a jab to the face. Neither defender was fast enough to stick with the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder; Randall found out he wasn’t strong enough, either.
Here’s Jones finally accepting Gunter’s request to go on a date and then never showing up while Gunter sits alone in a crowded restaurant:
You’ve got to feel for Gunter, an undrafted free agent who spent last year on special teams and was thrust into a starting role this fall when Sam Shields got hurt. Few teams have a starting corner as good as Shields; I wouldn’t be surprised if few teams have a backup as raw as Gunter. And here he was trying to guard the NFL’s unicorn. It seemed very unenjoyable.
Here’s Jones making a catch that should have broken a human body:
Whatever planet Jones is from, we should never go there. He’s bigger, stronger, faster, and more technologically advanced than we are. Be happy you get to watch him in the Super Bowl. Be glad that you don’t have to guard him.