January 31, 2011 in Sports

NFC builds big lead, holds on to win sloppy Pro Bowl

AFC falls behind 42-0 in first half of Pro Bowl
Associated Press photo

DeAngelo Hall was pleased to get a Cadillac for being MVP.
(Full-size photo)

HONOLULU – A tropical rainstorm moved in from the Pacific and cleared just before the Pro Bowl began on Sunday. What followed was a sloppy show that was not exactly riveting entertainment a week in advance of the Super Bowl.

The NFC’s 55-41 victory, a game not nearly as interesting as that score would indicate, did nothing to repair the tattered image of the NFL’s all-star contest.

New England’s Bill Belichick, the AFC coach and a man of even fewer words than usual, might have come closest to summing up the game with his mumbled cliché, “It is what it is.”

MVP DeAngelo Hall had one of his team’s five interceptions and returned a fumble 34 yards for a touchdown to help the NFC match a Pro Bowl scoring record in a 55-41 victory over turnover-prone AFC. He gets a new Cadillac for his efforts.

“I was just about to buy another SUV,” the Washington Redskins cornerback said, “so to come out here and grab one for free, I like that.”

AFC quarterbacks Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning and Matt Cassel each threw first-half interceptions to help the NFC blow open a 42-0 lead in a performance ugly even by the historically low standards of this game.

Fittingly for this strange contest, center Alex Mack of Cleveland scored the final touchdown on a 67-yard pass play that featured two laterals with 16 seconds left.

Carolina’s Jon Beason returned the fifth interception thrown by the AFC, and second by Cassel, 59 yards for the NFC’s final touchdown to match the single-team scoring record set in the NFC’s 55-52 victory in 2004.

“It feels amazing. It was a lot of fun,” Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson said. “We came out and put up a bunch of points and had some fun doing it, so it was a good day.”

The NFC led 42-0 after Steven Jackson waltzed through the AFC defense for a 21-yard touchdown – and there still was 41/2 minutes left in the second quarter.

But just when it appeared it would be the most one-sided game in Pro Bowl history, eclipsing the 45-3 NFC rout of the AFC in 1984, the AFC scored three touchdowns in a row.

The last came on the game’s seventh turnover, when Devin Hester tried to hand the kickoff return to Hall, but the ball fell to the turf. Montell Owens of Jacksonville scooped it up and ran it in 10 yards for the score to make it 42-21 with 10 minutes left in the third quarter.

With his seven extra points, tying a Pro Bowl record, and two field goals, David Akers moved ahead of Morten Andersen (45) for most career Pro Bowl points with 52.

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