After a terrible start, the NFC rebounded and poured it on the AFC to win the 2013 Pro Bowl by a 62-35 margin Sunday afternoon in Honolulu.
Everyone who criticized the Pro Bowl got what they wanted on the first play from scrimmage, as Adrian Peterson mishandled the handoff on the opening play to turn the ball over to the AFC.
But, surprisingly, defense prevailed and the opening quarter ended in that 7-7 tie.
That's where the scoring drought stopped, at least for the NFC.
Vikings kicker Blair Walsh booted a 48-yard FG in the opening moments of the second quarter to give the NFC the lead. That wouldn't hold long, though. Mere minutes later, Chiefs LB Derrick Johnson picked off Eli Manning and returned it to the house 42 yards for a touchdown.
The second quarter wasn't just about the action on the field, either. Jeff Saturday, former teammate of Peyton Manning, snapped the final snap of his career after lining up with Manning's AFC unit in the second quarter.
That second quarter helped the NFC build a 31-14 lead, after three straight touchdowns following the AFC's interception return TD.
Eli Manning tossed two TDs and Marshawn Lynch finished off a four-play, 72-yard drive by punching it in from one yard out.
The second half was all NFC, as Russell Wilson picked up where Eli Manning left off. The rookie QB threw three scoring passes in the third quarter to distance his team for good. A.J. Green and Andrew Luck developed a good rapport late in the game, though, to allow for the AFC to make it respectable.
In the process, the NFC set the single-game Pro Bowl record for points scored with 62, after Minnesota FB Jerome Felton punched it in from three yards out midway through the fourth quarter.
Kyle Rudolph ended up winning the official MVP honors for his five-catch, 122 yard performance for the NFC. He also grabbed one touchdown and made some excellent grabs to help spark the NFC's offense.
@iamericvincent It's the pro bowl. We all hate it.— Jesse Reed (@JesseReed78) January 27, 2013
Sports Illustrated writer Richard Deitsch pointed out that while we may complain and detest it, we still watch:
People bang on the Pro Bowl- and it's ugly TV -but it averaged 12.5M viewers last year. For comparison, this year's World Series did 12.7M.— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) January 27, 2013
ESPN's Trey Wingo put the players to challenge, putting the future of the All-Star game in their hands:
Dear Players:future is in your hands. Play Pro Bowl like it's a gameit will stay on the calendar. Mail it in like last few years..#done— trey wingo (@wingoz) January 27, 2013
J.J. Watt made it to Bleacher Report's Twitter feed after suffering a slightly bloody finger during the early action:
Philadelphia Eagles analyst Adam Caplan commented on referee Ed Hochuli's joke following the first flagged penalty of the game:
Bleacher Report's Twitter struck again, posting a picture of center Jeff Saturday lining up with the AFC team in order to snap his last snap with former teammate Peyton Manning:
Jeff Saturday snaps his last career ball to his old teammate Peyton Manning, even though he plays in the NFC twitter.com/BleacherReport…— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 28, 2013
Several teams had a case for their player earning MVP honors, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made a case for their whole teaming being recognized after accounting for three touchdowns and a fumble recovery that set another up:
They should name an "MVP Team" in the Pro Bowl, for combined contributions. Wouldn't the Bucs win this year?— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@TBBuccaneers) January 28, 2013
Game MVP: A.J. Green
The AFC may not have set records as a team, but Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green put on a show, scoring three touchdowns. That includes a late 49-yard bomb from Andrew Luck.
Most impressively, he beat both standout cornerbacks from the Chicago Bears in the process. Here is his second touchdown grab, a short fade in the corner of the end zone from Andrew Luck:
His third touchdown, the 49-yard bomb from Luck, was thrown over Charles Tillman. Green, as he did so often in 2012, got behind the coverage and made them pay for hesitating for even a second on the route.