POSTED: 3:02 p.m. HST, Jan 30, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 6:05 p.m. HST, Jan 30, 2011
The NFC built a big lead early off five AFC turnovers to secure a 55-41 Pro Bowl win today before an Aloha Stadium crowd of 49,331.
The NFC scored six unanswered touchdowns off numerous AFC miscues and then held on as its AFC rivals did a little bit of everything to try to make the score respectable.
Atlanta Falcons fullback Ovie Mugheli scored from 1 yard out with 3:14 left in the opening quarter to put the NFC on the board 7-0. Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick completed several big passes during the 11-play, 59-yard drive. Mugheli had only 13 carries during the regular season and is playing in his first NFL All-Star game.
Minneota running back Adrian Peterson built the NFC advantage to two touchdowns on a 14-yard scoring run with 1:00 left in the first. It was set up on an interception by Washington linebacker London Fletcher. The Phillip Rivers' pass was tipped by Dallas defensive tackle Jay Ratliff as Fletcher returned it to the NFC 43. It took the NFC only five plays to score the second time of the game.
There were four interceptions as the game entered the second quarter. The NFC had three picks in that timeframe; two off Rivers and one off Peyton Manning. Atlanta's Brent Grimes got the Manning pick to set up the NFC at its own 43.
Under the guidance of Atlanta's Matt Ryan, the NFC quickly drove down the field and scored on a 4-yard strike from Ryan to Falcons teammate Tony Gonzalez to build the NFC's advantage to 21-0 with 10:41 left in the half.
The AFC quickly gave the ball back on the ensuing series. Manning completed a short pass to New England's Wes Welker, who was stripped of the ball near the sidelines by Washington's DeAngelo Hall. Hall, named the Pro Bowl MVP, scooped it up and went 34 yards for a touchdown to make it 28-0 for the NFC with 10:21 left in the half.
Ryan kept the pedal to the metal for the NFC with a 25-yard scoring pass to the Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald with 7:16 left in the half. The NFC built the advantage to 42-0 on a 21-yard scoring run by St. Louis running back Steven Jackson. The play was set up on an interception of Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassal by New York Giants safety Antrel Rolle.
The AFC finally got on the board thanks to Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles, who scored from 8 yards out to cut the NFC's lead to 35 points with 1:54 left in the half.
The AFC came out in the second half and marched quickly down the field to score its second touchdown of the game. On a fourth and 9, Rivers hit Reggie Wayne from 16 yards out to make it 42-14 with 10:05 left in the third.
On the ensuing kickoff the NFC messed up a reverse near its own goal line and the loose ball was picked up by Jacksonville's Montell Owens and returned 8 yards for a touchdown to make it 42-21 with 10:00 left in the third.
The NFC countered those two early touchdowns by the AFC with a 41-yard field goal by Philadelphia place-kicker David Akers with 6:01 left in the third to give the NFC a 45-21 advantage.
But the AFC would not go away. Rivers led another nice drive and ended it on a fourth-down touchdown pass of 28 yards to Jacksonville's Marcedes Lewis to cut the NFC's lead to 45-28. Since taking a 42-0 advantage, the NFC was outscored 28-3.
Akers added another field goal from 38 yards out with 4:06 left in the game to build the NFC's advantage to 48-28. The NFC put the finishing touches on the game with a 49-yard interception return for a touchdown by Jon Beason of Carolina to make it 55-28 with 3:33 left.
The AFC scored on a 7-yard touchdown pass to Owens to make it 55-35 with 1:55 left in the game. The AFC scored one more time on an unusual pass and catch play that included several laterals. The last one to snag the ball and score with a nice run up the sidelines was Cleveland center Alex Mack, who was credited with a 67-yard touchdown catch that made it 55-41 with 16 seconds remaining.