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Packers, Steelers advance to title games

Associated Press
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers passes against the Atlanta Falcons during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan., 15, 2011, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

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The Green Bay Packers took care of the top seed in the NFC, and the Pittsburgh Steelers sent home their archrivals from the AFC North in entirely different manners Saturday.

Sixth-seeded Green Bay routed the Falcons 48-21 in Atlanta as Aaron Rodgers threw for three touchdowns and ran for one. The Packers, who won at Philadelphia last weekend, will play for the NFC title next Sunday at either Chicago or Seattle. The Packers lost in the conference championship game three years ago to the Giants.

"That's what you dream about," Rodgers said. "We have to go on the road again ... this just feels so good right now, to be able to put up an offensive performance like that, it's just incredible."

The 48 points were the most for the Packers in a postseason game. Plus, Tramon Williams had two interceptions, returning the second 70 yards on the final play of the first half, and Green Bay never punted. Other than a 102-yard kickoff return by Eric Weems in the first half, the Packers (12-6) shut down Atlanta (13-4) when the outcome was in doubt.

For the fifth time in 10 years, the Steelers are headed to the AFC championship game. They have a second-half meltdown by the Baltimore Ravens, and some clutch passes by Ben Roethlisberger, to thank for a 31-24 victory in a sloppy but compelling playoff matchup.

Trailing 21-7 at halftime, the Steelers (13-4) took full advantage of the Ravens frequent errors. Pittsburgh recovered two fumbles and picked off a pass in the second half, and the Ravens had several drops, including one in the end zone by Anquan Boldin that would have given Baltimore a late lead.

Instead, Billy Cundiff's 24-yard field goal tied it, then Roethlisberger hit rookie Antonio Brown for 58 yards on third-and-19, leading to Rashard Mendenhall's 2-yard run for the winning points with 1:33 remaining.

"I saw the young fella just take off, so I'm just going to throw it up for you," Roethlisberger said.

Pittsburgh has been in the AFC title game in 2001, '04, '05 and '08, and won the Super Bowl the last two times it got this far.

On Sunday, NFC West winner Seattle is at NFC North champion Chicago, then AFC East rivals New England, the league leader with a 14-2 record, and the sixth-seeded New York Jets meet in Foxborough, Mass.

Both the Jets and Patriots beat the Steelers this season at Heinz Field.

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