Green Bay Packers

Falcons' young defense could be key against Patriots

The popular thinking is the Atlanta Falcons' only path to their first Super Bowl championship is to win a high-scoring game against New England.

After all, big offense is the Falcons' big weapon.

The best reason to think Atlanta can beat Tom Brady and the Patriots, however, may be the Falcons' improved defense.

Atlanta's defense was on an upswing even before holding a shocking 31-0 third-quarter lead over Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the 44-21 NFC championship game win.

Atlanta started four rookies and four second-year players on defense against the Packers. The unit played with the toughness and speed of the celebrated Seattle defense Dan Quinn...