AFC holds off NFC to win low-scoring Pro Bowl
ORLANDO, Fla.--In the lowest-scoring Pro Bowl since 1998, the AFC made two first-half goal-line stands Sunday night and then held off the NFC's final drive to secure a 20-13 win at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.
ORLANDO, Fla.-In the lowest-scoring Pro Bowl since 1998, the AFC made two first-half goal-line stands Sunday night and then held off the NFC's final drive to secure a 20-13 win at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.
All the second-half scoring consisted of field goals. The Baltimore Ravens' Justin Tucker converted on 38- and 31-yard attempts to give the AFC a 20-7 advantage with 14:12 left in the game, but Detroit's Matt Prater hit from 42 and 46 to draw the NFC within a touchdown at the 4:29 mark.
The NFC got the ball back at its 31-yard line with 2:39 remaining and crossed midfield at the two-minute warning on a pass from the Washington Redskins' Kirk Cousins to the New York Giants' Odell Beckham, eventually reaching the AFC 19.
However, the drive fizzled when Cousins' pass to Seattle's Jimmy Graham went through the Seahawks tight end's hands and was intercepted by the Buffalo Bills Lorenzo Alexander at the 1. Alexander returned it 36 yards and lateraled to the Denver Broncos' Aqib Talib, who ran it 55 yards before fumbling and recovering it at the NFC 7 with a minute left.
Cousins threw for 158 yards on 14-of-20 accuracy in the fourth quarter. Beckham caught six passes for 93 yards as the NFC outgained the AFC 353-241.
After playing the first scoreless quarter in a Pro Bowl in 10 years, the teams finally cracked the scoring seal in the second quarter.
The AFC found the end zone on the quarter's first play, with Kansas City's Alex Smith finding Tennessee tight end Delanie Walker on a 26-yard touchdown pass down the left side. Walker juggled the ball for an instant but was able to secure possession with both feet inbounds.
New Orleans' Drew Brees tied the score at 7 when he connected with Seattle's Doug Baldwin on a 47-yard scoring strike with 6:26 left in the half.
The NFC failed to convert on two chances inside the AFC 5-yard line, as Dallas rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott was stuffed on a fourth-and-goal at the 1 in the first quarter and Brees was intercepted in the end zone by Buffalo's Stephon Gilmore earlier in the second quarter.
The AFC took a 14-7 lead to halftime as Cincinnati's Andy Dalton flipped a 23-yard touchdown pass to Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce, who got behind Minnesota's Harrison Smith on a crossing pattern with 1:40 remaining.
NOTES: Among the rule changes for the game: No kickoffs, all possessions automatically begin at the 25, and teams are required to adhere to 4-3 alignments on defense with limits on how many players can rush the passer. ... The game was the last for 20-year NFL side judge Bob Waggoner, a member of Gene Steratore's crew. He is retiring. ... Kansas City's Andy Reid, who guided the AFC team, coached in his sixth Pro Bowl, tying Dallas legend Tom Landry atop the all-time list.