2011 Pro Bowl: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons Show Well in NFL's All-Star Game

Ryan ComstockCorrespondent IJanuary 30, 2011

AP Photo/Eugene Tanner
AP Photo/Eugene Tanner

The Atlanta Falcons had an NFL-high nine players participate in the 2011 Pro Bowl, and just about all of them made their presences felt in the NFC's 55-41 victory.

Falcons players accounted for three of the NFC's seven touchdowns, with four total scores coming while Matt Ryan was on the field.

Ryan was the second quarterback in the game for his side. He completed 9-of-13 passes for 118 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. One of his scoring strikes went to fellow Falcon Tony Gonzalez and the other came on a deep ball that was caught by Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald.

Gonzalez wound up with three catches for 42 yards and that touchdown—his sixth career Pro Bowl score, a new record. Receiver Roddy White gained 69 yards on five receptions.

Running backs Michael Turner (53 yards on eight carries) and Ovie Mughelli contributed as well, although in different ways.

Mughelli did most of his damage in the passing game, bringing in two balls for 23 yards. The fullback also scored a touchdown on a one-yard rush.

There isn't normally any defense being played in the Pro Bowl, but don't tell that to Brent Grimes.

Grimes, of course, had to work his way into the league after going undrafted out of Shippensburg. He likely saw this game as his chance to shine, which he did, getting an interception and breaking up a couple of passes.

It took a long time for Grimes to get noticed in the NFL, so it's nice to see him come through on a big stage.

John Abraham and Tyson Clabo also took part in the festivities. Pass-rushers don't really try to get after quarterbacks in these games, so there wasn't much for Abraham to do. Clabo did what he had to on the offensive line.

Eric Weems played on special teams, ceding return duties to Chicago's Devin Hester.

It seemed that on the offensive side of the ball the Falcons coaching staff wanted to show off their players a bit, with White and Gonzalez being targeted more than any other receiver for the NFC.

It could also just be that they're that good and know how to get open and it doesn't hurt that Ryan was at quarterback and already has an established relationship with those two.

There certainly isn't much that can be read into the performances of players in an Alll-Star game. The guys are just there to have fun and put up points.

Nonetheless, it's never a bad thing to play well in this situation.

If there's anyone who doubted the ability of guys like Grimes and White, they showed that they are indeed the goods and deserving of any recognition they get.

Ryan put in his bid for MVP, but that award went to former Falcon DeAngelo Hall, who had six tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery that was returned for a touchdown.

Overall, players from the NFC South put on good shows, displaying the talent that is in the division.

Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints totaled 68 yards while completing four of his six pass attempts. His opportunities to contribute were minimal, as the NFC was trying to run out the clock once he entered the game.

Carolina Panthers linebacker Jon Beason recorded two tackles and returned an interception for a touchdown.

Ex-NFC Southers Michael Vick and Julius Peppers also started in the game. Vick didn't do much (five completions on ten attempts for 59 yards), but Peppers recorded a sack and two tackles for a loss.

All game action is now done for the Falcons and every other team not from Pittsburgh or Green Bay.

While it was nice to see such a large number of Falcons play in this game, Atlanta fans will hope that is not the case next year, since Super Bowl participants do not take part in the Pro Bowl.