BEN VOLIN | ON FOOTBALL

Steelers’ defensive game plan was atrocious

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22: Chris Hogan #15 of the New England Patriots carries the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the third quarter in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Never have we seen so many wide-open receivers running down the field in a playoff game.

DAN SHAUGHNESSY

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2017/01/23/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/shaughnessy1-11163.jpg It’s hard to get pumped up about a Super Bowl against . . . Atlanta

The Falcons aren’t the Packers or Cowboys, and there is little sports history between Boston and Atlanta.

Chad Finn

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2017/01/23/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/Steelers%20A3-489993.jpg Ranking the Patriots’ AFC Championship victories

The Patriots have won their conference title nine times, in a variety of ways and with an assortment of role players.

Browns linebacker Jamie Collins (right) in played every defensive snap after being traded by the Patriots in October.

Jamie Collins signs 4-year, $50m deal with Browns

The former Patriots linebacker will receive $26 million in guaranteed money.

Falcons Notebook

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2017/01/23/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/ec8e6b0924fd4814b911c13d09b210d2-ec8e6b0924fd4814b911c13d09b210d2-0.jpg Falcons coach is wary of Patriots’ attack and their aura

Dan Quinn has a Super Bowl ring from Seattle and knows it is important not to be intimidated.

PATRIOTS NOTEBOOK

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2017/01/23/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/Davis19-11155.jpg Belichick compares Blount carry with famous Mark Bavaro play

The Patriots running back conjured up memories of the Giants tight end against the 49ers in 1986.

STAN GROSSFELD/GLOBE STAFF

Alex Speier

Tom Brady’s performance was among his best ever in postseason

Brady connected with nine different receivers all over the field on short, intermediate, and deep routes.

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2017/01/24/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/632423832.jpg Near-record ratings for Patriots’ victory

Sunday’s contest received a household rating of 51.6, the second highest in Patriots history for a non-Super Bowl.

CHRISTOPHER L. GASPER

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2017/01/23/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/Gasper-11370.jpg With this win, Tom Brady gets the last word

Deflategate can go down as just another obstacle Brady had to overcome in the remarkable career he has carved out as the consummate winner.

BEN VOLIN | ON FOOTBALL

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2017/01/23/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/bradypasses.jpg No running game necessary with Tom Brady

New England’s offensive production Sunday was quite different from Week 7 at Pittsburgh.

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2017/01/23/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/lee_patriotssteelers2_spts.jpg Martellus Bennett says Roger Goodell is ‘like Waldo right now’

The NFL commissioner was in Atlanta for the second straight week Sunday.

Ben Volin | Instant Analysis

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2017/01/23/BostonGlobe.com/ReceivedContent/Images/Davis14.jpg Patriots defense finally passes a big test

The Patriots were able to limit the damage by an elite quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, en route to a convincing win.

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2017/01/23/BostonGlobe.com/ReceivedContent/Images/Lee21.jpg Photos: Patriots roll past Steelers in AFC title game

The Patriots scored on their first drive and never looked back en route to a record ninth Super Bowl appearance.

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2017/01/15/BostonGlobe.com/ReceivedContent/Images/Chin4.jpg Martellus Bennett has cracked bone in ankle, report says

Bennett was on the injury report this week — with a knee ailment.

Patriots 36, Steelers 17

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2017/01/23/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/davis_afc1_spts.jpg The Patriots are on to the Super Bowl

Tom Brady set a Patriots’ franchise record for passing and New England will appear in a record ninth Super Bowl after dominating the Steelers, 36-17.

HOMESTEAD, FL - NOVEMBER 20: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John's Chevrolet, leads the field at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2016 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

NASCAR overhauls its race, playoff points format for 2017

Each NASCAR race will be divided into three segments, each paying playoff bonus points.

Tempers flared at the conclusion of the Celtics-Wizards game Jan. 11.

charles krupa/Associated Press

Celtics at Wizards | 7 p.m. (CSN)

Will bad blood resurface as Celtics face Wizards?

Their last meeting ended with some ugliness, and there appears to be a budding rivalry.

BRUINS NOTEBOOK

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2017/01/23/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/639552106.jpg Bruins are forced to focus on their mistakes

The coaching staff held a video session to detail all that went wrong in Sunday’s loss to Pittsburgh.

FILE - In this June 26, 2016, file photo, Tiger Woods stands on the 18th green during the trophy ceremony for Quicken Loans National PGA golf tournament winner Billy Hurley III in Bethesda, Md. Woods discusses his impending return to Riviera for the Genesis Open in February, the hometown tournament that golf's aging superstar has skipped since 2006. Despite his love for the venerable course, Woods has never won there. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

Tiger Woods, 41, preparing to play four times in five weeks

Woods starts his season Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.

australian open

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2017/01/24/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/f1bedb4542c14f978f9a58f9217e0bc0-f1bedb4542c14f978f9a58f9217e0bc0-0.jpg Venus Williams moves on to semifinal

At 36, she is the oldest player to reach the Australian Open women’s semifinals in the Open era.

Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau (13) weaved his way between Maple Leafs players Nazem Kadri (43), William Nylander (29), and Martin Marincin (52).

nhl roundup

Look out Bruins, here come the Maple Leafs

Toronto cashed in one of its many games in hand over the Bruins by beating Calgary, 4-0.

Miami Heat's Dion Waiters shouts to the fans after shooting a basket in the final seconds of the game to secure the Heat's victory over the Golden State Warriors during an NBA basketball game in Miami, Monday, Jan. 23, 2017. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald via AP)

NBA roundup

Weary Warriors beaten on last-second shot by Heat

Dion Waiters’s 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds left ended the Warriors’ seven-game winning streak.Dion Waiters’s 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds left ended the Warriors’ seven-game winning streak.

JOE SULLIVAN | COLLEGE BASKETBALL

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2017/01/23/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/7d868184dc1c4ddd95adab54eea7aa15-7d868184dc1c4ddd95adab54eea7aa15-0.jpg Win over UCLA forces a reassessment of Arizona

With Allonzo Trier back on the court, the Wildcats might just be a Final Four candidate.

Sports Log

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2017/01/24/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/631235528.jpg BU men’s hockey vaults to No. 1 in USCHO.com poll

After posting three wins last week, the Terriers climbed to the top of the polls for the first time since Dec. 14, 2014.

09/21/15: Boston, MA: The Red Sox Xander Bogaerts (second from left) is all smiles as he and the three teammates that scored ahead of him (left to right) Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Dustin Pedroia head in the direction of a waiting David Ortiz following his bottom of the eighth inning grand slam that provided the winning runs in an eventual 8-7 victory over the Rays. The Boston Red Sox hosted the Tampa Bay Rays in a regular season MLB baseball game at Fenway Park. (Globe Staff Photo/Jim Davis) section:sports topic:Red Sox-Rays

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Alex Speier

Red Sox may hold off on long-term deals for young stars

For Betts, Bogaerts and Bradley, conversations about possible extensions almost surely will focus on 2018, rather than 2017.

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