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Pass rush vital for Falcons to slow Tom Brady

While Vic Beasley led the NFL with 15 1/2 sacks, the Falcons had one of the NFL’s worst pass-rushing units.

Atlanta’s pass rush was sixth-worst in the NFL, pressuring opposing quarterbacks on only 24.9 percent of pass plays.

If they can’t put pressure on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in Super Bowl 51, he will pick them apart.

Freeman, who ripped off a 37-yard run on Atlanta’s first play from scrimmage, had 71 rushing yards and the touchdown before Lady Gaga performed at halftime.

The Falcons defense, which was maligned for most of the season, but steadily improved, was superb in the first half Sunday. The Falcons had the NFL’s 25th-ranked defense and allowed 104.5 yards per game. They shut the Patriots ground game down Sunday, holding New England to just 35 rushing yards in the first half.

The Falcons added to their lead with a 19-yard pass to rookie tight end Austin Hooper with 8:48 remaining in the first half. The 14-point deficit was the largest ever faced in the Super Bowl by a Patriots team led by Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady. No team in Super Bowl history has ever won after trailing by 14 points or more.

Ryan was nearly flawless in the first half, going 7 of 8 for 115 and a touchdown. Brady went into halftime 15 of 25 for 179 yards and a costly interception.

Robert Alford jumped a Brady pass and returned it 82 Raiders Cheap Jerseys yards Orioles Cheap Jerseys to give the Falcons a commanding 21-0 lead with 2:21 remaining in the half.