NFC runs past AFC in entertaining Pro Bowl
HONOLULU — Sack-happy defensive end J.J. Watt went out for a pass as a wide receiver, retiring center Jeff Saturday snapped to two Mannings on opposite teams, and the NFC blew past the AFC, 62-35, in a Pro Bowl that could be the could be the last.
Whether the NFL's all-star game will return or not is a question league officials will ponder the next few months. And, the players gave plenty to consider on both sides of the argument Sunday.
The NFC was unstoppable on offense, with nearly each player putting up fantasy-type lines in limited play. The AFC, meanwhile, had five turnovers and scored most of its points well after the game was no longer competitive.
Minnesota tight end Kyle Rudolph was voted the game's MVP, with 122 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Watt, who had 20 1⁄2 sacks for Houston, lined up as a wide receiver on the AFC's third play from scrimmage but missed a pass from Denver quarterback Peyton Manning.
He later showed a TV camera a bloody left pinkie, joking with NBC telecasters that the players were trying.
Roger Goodell has said the Pro Bowl won't be played again if play didn't improve. Last year, fans in Hawaii booed as linemen were clearly not trying. On one play in that game, Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen did a barrel roll to switch positions.
If players were coasting this time around, it was less obvious. The AFC just played poorly. And fans didn't boo much — the stands were relatively empty even though the game sold enough tickets to lift a local television blackout.
Saturday, the Green Bay center retiring at season's end, played for both teams though he came representing the NFC. He lined up on one play for the AFC to snap the ball one last time to Manning, his former Colts teammate. Saturday played 13 seasons in Indianapolis, all with Manning — except 2011, when Manning was out with a neck injury. Saturday then played later in the game for the NFC, snapping to Peyton's brother, Giants quarterback Eli Manning.