NFL Pro Bowl: New format spurs new spectacles
HONOLULU -- A new format brought inspired play from both teams in the 2014 Pro Bowl on Sunday at Aloha Stadium. Fullback Mike Tolbert scored on a two-point conversion after quarterback Alex Smith's 20-yard touchdown pass to DeMarco Murray with 41...
HONOLULU -- A new format brought inspired play from both teams in the 2014 Pro Bowl on Sunday at Aloha Stadium.
Fullback Mike Tolbert scored on a two-point conversion after quarterback Alex Smith's 20-yard touchdown pass to DeMarco Murray with 41 seconds remaining to give Jerry Rice's team a 22-21 victory over Deion Sanders' squad in the first unconferenced Pro Bowl.
Teams were decided by a draft held last week.
The new format made for some interesting plays, most notably was a huge hit Kansas City linebacker Derrick Johnson of Team Rice put on his Chiefs teammate Jamaal Charles, who played for Team Sanders. Charles, who suffered a concussion 22 days earlier in a playoff loss to the Colts, was blown up in the hole by Johnson as both teams showed a considerable amount of effort compared to recent years.
Charles was the game's leading rusher with 43 yards on five carries.
Playing in his final NFL game, 14-time Pro Bowler Tony Gonzalez had three catches for 50 yards, finishing with 52 career receptions in the Pro Bowl -- the most by any player.
With the score tied 14-14, quarterback Nick Foles threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jordan Cameron to put Team Sanders in front 21-14.
The game finished as the lowest-scoring Pro Bowl since the NFC won 23-17 in 2006.
Defenses dominated the opening half with six sacks and six takeaways.
Sanders' team got off to a quick start with a rare Pro Bowl sack as defensive tackle Gerald McCoy threw down quarterback Drew Brees as Team Rice went three-and-out.
Andrew Luck started at quarterback for Team Sanders and hit wide receiver DeSean Jackson on a 36-yard touchdown pass off a flea flicker play to put his team ahead 7-0.
It was the only touchdown in a low-scoring first quarter in which the defenses dominated.
Linebacker Vontaze Burfict intercepted a Luck pass deflected high into the air by defensive end Robert Quinn for Team Rice.
Team Sanders sacked Brees twice in the opening 15 minutes and stopped Team Rice on fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line. Safety Eric Berry interception of a Brees pass intended for wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald in the end zone.
Brees finally put his team on the board in the second quarter, throwing to his Saints teammate tight end Jimmy Graham for an 8-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 7-7 with 9:05 left in the second quarter.
Graham went for his trademark touchdown celebration slam of the ball over the goalpost, but was interfered with by safety Eric Weddle, drawing laughs from both teams.
Team Sanders retook the lead at 14-7 with 5:42 left in the half on a fourth-down quarterback sneak by Cam Newton from the 1. The drive started at the Team Rice 7-yard line after defensive tackle Dontari Poe intercepted quarterback Philip Rivers' first pass of the game.
Rivers, who was picked off twice on his first three throws, hit wide receiver Josh Gordon for a 10-yard touchdown reception with 36 seconds left in the half to tie the game at 14-14.
Gordon was the leading receiver in the game, finishing with six receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown.
Neither team scored in the third quarter, which began with a fumble by running back LeSean McCoy of Team Rice on the first play. McCoy hurt his ankle on the play and did not return.
Team Rice kicker Stephen Gostkowski's 53-yard field goal try with 7:24 remaining in the game bounced off the right upright to keep the game tied at 14-14.
Notes: The game began with Team Rice taking the ball on the 25-yard line. There were no kickoffs in the game as part of a host of rule changes. ...Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker, who made six field goals, including the game-winning 61-yarder, in a game this season against the Detroit Lions, came up short on a 66-yard try to end the half.