Gaudy stats and plentiful scoring is to be expected at an All-Star game. That isn’t any different for the current, albeit controversial, state of the NFL Pro Bowl.
The 2013 edition was played under the threat of having its existence erased from the schedule by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Goodell, unhappy with last season’s performance, sparked unprecedented levels of criticism about the yearly matchup in the week leading up to the game.
Several players took that warning seriously and came to play this year. New York’s Victor Cruz was one of those players. His 10 receptions set a Pro Bowl record for most grabs in a game.
"We understood exactly what (Goodell) wanted, guys were making plays all over the field," Cruz said, according to an AP report (via ESPN). "There was a little bit more high intensity than in years past and we were excited to play."
When all was said in done in Honolulu, there was little doubt that the players got the message. There were some exciting moments, fun times and even some sad ones. Rookies had their time to shine and a veteran hung up his cleats midway through the day.
Let’s take a look at a couple of stats that perfectly described this year’s Pro Bowl.
NFC Sets Scoring Record
The single-game Pro Bowl record for points in a game was broken on an afternoon that saw the NFC put up 62 points.
Both teams also combined to nearly set a record between them. The AFC and NFC racked up a total of 97 points, which is good enough for the third-most scored during the Pro Bowl since the 1970 league merger.
Last year the two conference All-Star teams combined for 100 points, falling just seven shy of the record of 107 that was set in 2004.
Kyle Rudolph Explodes
Minnesota Vikings second-year tight end Kyle Rudolph had a great season, catching nine touchdown passes in an offense that produced just 18 during the entire season.
That’s half if you’re counting at home.
He continued that success by earning MVP honors with five grabs for 122 yards and one touchdown, leading all receivers in yards. His play helped spark the NFC in its second-quarter breakout that put the game away early.
Russell Wilson Continued Silencing Doubters
Rookie QB Russell Wilson continued right where he left off during his second-half comeback against Atlanta in his team’s divisional round loss to the Falcons: throwing touchdowns.
Wilson was elusive, decisive and precise with his passes, finishing the game with three touchdowns and 98 yards on 8-of-10 passing.