Falcons rout Packers for NFC ChampionshipSubmitted: 01/23/2017
ATLANTA, GA - The Atlanta Falcons are headed to their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history after routing the Green Bay Packers 44-21 in the NFC championship game.

Matt Ryan threw for four touchdowns, including a 73-yard catch and run for a highlight-reel score by star receiver Julio Jones. The defense played just as crucial a role in containing quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' offense.

Rodgers had 287 yards with three touchdown passes and an interception. But the Falcons got to Rodgers with pressure and forced two Green Bay turnovers. Rodgers was outplayed by Ryan, who even ran for a 14-yard touchdown.

Atlanta will play New England in the Super Bowl on Feb. 5 in Houston.

The only other time that Atlanta made the Super Bowl was in the 1998 season, where the Falcons lost 34-19 to the Denver Broncos.

The Packers fell in the NFC title game for the second time in three seasons.

Story By: Associated Press

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RHINELANDER - Racing trophies decorate the walls inside Parker Retzlaff's room.

The 13-year old Rhinelander native has already accomplished more on the track than some racers do in a lifetime.

He says the best part about being a successful young racer is the surprise it brings to his competitors and race fans.

"When I'm in the front or when I win and I get out of the car on the front straightaway, and people see that I'm shorter than everyone else," said Retzlaff.

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EAGLE RIVER - Sunday afternoon, the World Championship Snowmobile Derby wrapped up in Eagle River. This years race was held during an unexpected warm weather spurt which left some drivers wondering about track conditions.

Drivers have been out on the track since Thursday evening. That means that by the championship race Sunday afternoon, wear and tear on the ice could've been an issue. But that wasn't the case.

"We're really excited because these track conditions are about as good as they could be. At the start of the week, we were a little bit worried if we would have enough ice to make it through to the end, and obviously we're going to have way more than enough," said track owner, Chuck Decker.

One of the positives to the warm weather was the number of spectators that came to support the racers.

"The spectators on Friday night was a near-record crowd. Saturday was a near-record crowd. I think today's going to be a near-record crowd as well. It's nice out, warm out, and people are staying outside and enjoying it," said Decker.

One driver that was really loving the track conditions was the 2017 World Champion Nick Van Strydonk.

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WAUSAU - Every five years, Americans and Scottish curling clubs travel to compete in a country wide tour. This year, the Royal Caledonian Scottish Curling Club was back in Wausau for the first time in quite a while.

It's actually been 40 years since the Scottish  competed in North-Central Wisconsin.

"Last time they were here in 1977, we were curling in the barn over at Marathon park so quite different," said Wausau Curling's Steve O'Keefe.

The big trip took an entire year to plan. The Wausau club was excited to finally see the team arrive on Saturday.

"It's such a big deal that most of us were getting goosebumps when we heard the bus was about to pull up," said O'Keefe.

Wausau was just one of 29 stops the Scottish team will make throughout the states. And an interesting fact, curling was actually started in Scotland. For one of their curlers, Bill Arnot, he was born into the sport.

"In those days, a lot of farmers curled. My father curled, my grandfather. My father took me along to the curling rink just to watch him one night and I just got hooked. That was 40 years ago and I still love it," said Arnot.

The Scottish Curling Club decided to come back to Wausau to see the new facility. The friendly competition also added to the excitement.

"Until you actually come, you don't appreciate just how good it is. The fun, the hospitality, the comradery, the facilities you have here in the states are second to none. This facility here is just fantastic," said Arnot.

The points from each stop will be tallied at the last competition in Boston. That's where the Herries Maxwell Trophy will be given to the overall winners.

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NORTHWOODS - Rhinelander hosted Lakeland for a basketball double header as each team picked up a win. The T-Birds came out victorious on the girls side while the Hodags got the win on the boys side.

Mosinee picked up a boys win as well by topping Tomahawk.

Plus Florence defeated Crandon in the Northern Lakes conference.

We also take a look at how UW-Stevens Point men's hockey fared in its matchup against Eau Claire.

Check out all those highlights plus area scores and more tonight on Friday Night Blitz!

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MINOCQUA - In the Northwoods, high school sports teams occasionally  join together to make sure they can form a full team. This season, Tomahawk girls hockey has co-op'd with the Lakeland Union team.

The decision was made because of low numbers on the Tomahawk team.

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NORTHWOODS - Northland Pines boys hockey rolled to another victory while Medford topped Lakeland in a shootout.

Plus we take a look at the Great Northern Conference standings. Check it out!

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WABENO - A lot has changed since the last time the Laona/Wabeno boys basketball team lost a conference game.

Their last loss came in February 2014. That was before Aaron Rodgers won his second MVP trophy. Melvin Gordon was still a Wisconsin Badger. Rickie Weeks still played for the Brewers.

"They've all bought into the program, which has led to the success of our program," said head coach Mike Chrisman.

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GREEN BAY - Receiver Jordy Nelson will miss the Green Bay Packers' divisional round playoff game on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys because of injured ribs.

Coach Mike McCarthy said on Friday that Nelson would not be medically cleared to take part in the team's final practice on Saturday, and that the medical staff determined that Nelson would not be ready for the game.

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IOWA CITY, IA - With a possible trip to the Big Ten championship game at stake, Nebraska fell flat.

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THREE LAKES - Wisconsin Badger basketball fans know their team plays old-school, fundamental hoops.

It's something of a lost art, but high school coaches hope to bring it back.

So Monday former Badger basketball standout Brian Butch offered to help, teaching kids in Three Lakes the skills he focused on as a kid.

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GREEN BAY - The Packers completed their second week of organized team activities this past week.

Green Bay is using some new drills too.

That's because the wide receiving squad has a new coach.

Luke Getsy is using bricks, Nerf balls, and juggling as tools for drills.

The Packers wide receiving core struggled last year.

Randall Cobb thinks the new mentality will help.

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GREEN BAY - The 2016 NFL Draft wrapped up Saturday.

The Green Bay Packers added seven players to their team:

Round one: Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA
Round two: Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana
Round three: Kyler Fackrell, LB Utah St.
Round four: Blake Martinez, LB, Stanford; Dean Lowry, DE, Northwestern
Round five: Trevor Davis, WR, California
Round six: Kyle Murphy, OT, Stanford

The smallest player out of the group stands at 6'1"

Thompson says adding bulk was one of their goals.

"There are things you'd like to add to your team," says General Manager Ted Thompson. "Athletic ability, size, that sort of thing. We do think we were able to do that [Saturday]. You don't have to be big to play in the NFL, but it helps, and we were able to get some bigs on both sides of the ball."

It takes a lot of planning and focus to draft well, but Ted says the process is still far from over.

"It's easy to sit here and proclaim 'okay, everything's good,'" says Thompson. "Quite frankly, everything is just getting started. We've got an extraordinary amount of work and people to talk to and things to see over the course of the next 24-48 hours to get to the point where you start winding up the roster from the draft itself."

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MILWAUKEE - Adeiny Hechavarria had four hits, including one of four Miami solo home runs, to help the Marlins beat the Milwaukee Brewers 7-5 on Saturday night.

Giancarlo Stanton, Derek Dietrich and Marcell Ozuna also homered as Miami won its seventh consecutive game. It is the longest winning streak for Miami since it won seven consecutive games May 1-7, 2012. The Marlins are 12-11, the first time they have been over .500 since being 64-63 on Aug. 22, 2014.

Wei-Yin Chen (2-1) allowed three runs with two walks and four strikeouts one night after the team took a combined no-hitter into the ninth inning.

David Phelps pitched the ninth for his first save of the season.

Milwaukee starter Chase Anderson (1-3) had his third consecutive subpar outing, allowing six runs in just 4 1/3 innings.

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MILWAUKEE - Maikel Franco homered twice and Aaron Nola pitched seven strong innings as the Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 5-2 on Friday night.

The Phillies snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Brewers.

Franco hit a two-run home run in the fifth to give Philadelphia a 4-1 lead. He blasted a solo shot over the Brewers bullpen in left in the seventh to stake the Phillies to a four-run lead.

Nola (1-2) allowed four hits and retired 11 consecutive batters at one point and 16 of 17 to close out his outing.

Milwaukee starter Zach Davies (0-2) surrendered four runs and nine hits over six innings.

The Brewers took a 1-0 lead in the first on Chris Carter's run-scoring single. The Phillies tied the game in the fourth on Darin Ruf's RBI single.

The Brewers added a run in the ninth on consecutive doubles by Carter and Aaron Hill.

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