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Fans fired up as Falcons soar to Super Bowl
Atlanta routs Packers, earns second trip to big game
Fans watch the NFC Championship Game Sunday afternoon at Branch House Tavern in Flowery Branch. The Falcons won 44-21 to advance to the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl LI

Falcons vs. Patriots

Where: NRG Stadium, Houston

When: 6:30 p.m. Feb. 5

On TV: Fox

An ecstatic crowd at the Branch House Tavern watched as the Atlanta Falcons punched their ticket to the Super Bowl Sunday night, beating the Green Bay Packers 44-21 in the NFC Championship Game.

“It’s about time,” Falcon fan Tim Waite said. “If they play like they did today in the Super Bowl, they’re going to win.”

“I have more confidence in this one,” said brother-in-law Danny Eller, who brought his 1-year-old son Liam with him. “This team, I think, has the chance to take it.”

“We’re No. 1 in the NFC,” said young fan Jake Petrin, watching the game with his mother, Ronda Petrin, of Suwanee.

“I hope they face Pittsburgh (Steelers) instead of the (New England) Patriots,” Ronda said. “I really don’t want to face (New England’s) Tom Brady.”

Her wish did not come true, however, as the Patriots routed the Steelers Sunday night.

Jonathan and Ashley Schneider of Flowery Branch, which is the Falcons’ team headquarters, also celebrated the victory from their table, watching the game from one of the many TVs scattered around the restaurant.

They said they came to the Branch House Tavern rather than stay at home for a simple reason.

“More people to cheer on with,” Jonathan said.

Like many of the patrons, wearing red shirts or Falcons jerseys, Waite is a true fan, and Sunday’s game was a can’t-miss event.

“I had to work a double shift at Waffle House and had to have a waitress cook for me while I (got away) to watch the game,” he said.

Asked how long he and Eller had pulled for the Falcons, the answer was instant.

“Lifetime,” Eller said.

In the sea of red garb, John Steffen stood out in his green jersey, with the name Starr stitched on the back — as in Bart Starr, legendary Green Bay quarterback from 1956-71.

He watched as Atlanta piled on points from the get-go.

Having moved to the area from Wisconsin, Steffen said, “I can’t give up on my team.”

“I was thrilled to get this far, because we weren’t expected to beat Dallas at all (in the playoffs),” he added. “I knew that Atlanta was a good team and this was going to be a tough game.

“But (the matchup) really didn’t hit me … until I was at work and all I heard was (Falcons mantra) ‘Rise up, baby, rise up.’”

The game hadn’t been decided yet, but Steffen said he knew whom he’d pull for if his beloved Packers fell.

“Oh, definitely the Falcons,” he said. “I am of the opinion that you want the team that beat you to look as good as possible.”