49ers, Raiders reps quiet in NFC's Pro Bowl win

January 31, 2011, 5:23 am
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Jan. 30, 2011

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HONOLULU (AP) A tropical rainstormmoved in from the Pacific and cleared just before the Pro Bowl began onSunday. What followed was a sloppy show that was not exactly rivetingentertainment a week in advance of the Super Bowl.The NFC's 55-41 victory, a game notnearly as interesting as that score would indicate, did nothing torepair the tattered image of the NFL's all-star contest.New England's Bill Belichick, the AFCcoach and a man of even fewer words than usual, might have come closestto summing up the game with his mumbled cliche, "It is what it is."MVP DeAngelo Hall had one of histeam's five interceptions and returned a fumble 34 yards for atouchdown to help the NFC match a Pro Bowl scoring record in a 55-41victory over turnover-prone AFC. He gets a new Cadillac for hisefforts."I was just about to buy anotherSUV," the Washington Redskins cornerback said, "so to come out here andgrab one for free, I like that."AFC quarterbacks Philip Rivers,Peyton Manning and Matt Cassel each threw first-half interceptions tohelp the NFC blow open a 42-0 lead in a performance ugly even by thehistorically low standards of this game.Fittingly for this strange contest,center Alex Mack of Cleveland scored the final touchdown on a 67-yardpass play that featured two laterals with 16 seconds left.Carolina's Jon Beason returned thefifth interception thrown by the AFC, and second by Matt Cassel, 59yards for the NFC's final touchdown to match the single-team scoringrecord set in the NFC's 55-52 victory in 2004."It feels amazing. It was a lot offun," Minnesota's Adrian Peterson said. "We came out and put up a bunchof points and had some fun doing it, so it was a good day."Belichick, after his Super Bowlfavorite Patriots lost to the New York Jets in the divisional playoffs,had to watch his AFC squad muddle through a first half that ended 42-7.Pro Bowls are, by their nature,laid-back affairs, seemingly played at half speed by players whosebiggest concern is to get on the plane home without injury.The AFC, though, took that attitude to an uncomfortable extreme early on before coming back to outscore the NFC 41-13.The NFC led 42-0 after StevenJackson waltzed through the AFC defense for a 21-yard touchdown - andthere still was 4 12 minutes left in the second quarter.Rivers, starting in place of injured Tom Brady, was picked off twice in the first quarter, the second by Hall."You underthrow one just a hair andthey intercept it," Rivers said. "You get a deflection for aninterception. ... They had all the breaks early."Manning, in his 11th Pro Bowl, cameon briefly in relief and his second pass was picked off. Then Casselgot his chance and quickly joined in the spirit of things, throwing hissecond pass of the game directly into the hands of Minnesota cornerbackAntoine Winfield.But just when it appeared it wouldbe the most one-sided game in Pro Bowl history, eclipsing the JoeTheismann-led 45-3 NFC rout of the AFC in 1984, the AFC scored threetouchdowns in a row. The last came on the game's seventh turnover, whenDevin Hester tried to hand the kickoff return to Hall, but the ballfell to the turf. Montell Owens of Jacksonville scooped it up and ranit in 10 yards for the score to make it 42-21 with 10 minutes left inthe third quarter.With his seven extra points, tying aPro Bowl record, along with two field goals, David Akers moved ahead ofMorten Andersen (45) for most career Pro Bowl points with 52. ThePhiladelphia kicker would have had more but his 36-yard field goal tryin the fourth quarter bounced off the right upright."Morten Andersen was a mentor ofmine and I competed with Morten for a job in Atlanta and he taught me alot," Akers said, "so it means a lot to be able to pass a legend likethat."The game returned to its traditionalhome in Hawaii after a one-year detour to Miami, much to the approvalof the players involved.Eagles quarterback Michael Vick started but played only the first quarter, completing 5 of 10 passes for 59 yards.Peterson rushed for 80 yards in 14carries for the NFC, including a 14-yarder to set a Pro Bowl recordwith four career rushing touchdowns. Atlanta got good performances fromMatt Ryan (9 of 13 for 118 yards and two touchdowns with aninterception), Michael Turner (eight carries for 53 yards) and RoddyWhite (five catches for 69 yards).Notes: A 70-yard punt by Mat McBriarof Dallas in the first quarter tied for second-longest in Pro Bowlhistory. ... The state of Hawaii is paying the NFL about 4 millionthis season and next to keep the Pro Bowl team in Honolulu. Locationfor the contest is up in the air after 2012. ... Peterson had been tiedwith three career rushing TDs with Earl Campbell, Chuck Muncie and MikeAlstott. ... Tony Gonzalez added to his Pro Bowl record for careerreceptions (42) and moved into first in TD catches with his sixth. ...The attendance of 49,338 was just shy of a sellout.

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