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AFC wins Pro Bowl 59-41

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 6:30 p.m. HST, Jan 29, 2012



On a perfect afternoon for football, the Pro Bowl players took it easy on each other at today's NFL All-Star game at Aloha Stadium won by the AFC 59-41.

The NFC struck early and often but watched the lead slip away on four unanswered touchdowns by the AFC in the second half.

Tied 28-28 at the half, the AFC overcame an early 14-0 deficit to take a 31-28 lead on a 37-yard field goal by Oakland's Sebastian Janikowski.

The drive was set up on an interception by NFC quarterback Cam Newton, who came right back on the ensuing series and tossed a 55-yard scoring strike to Carolina Panthers teammate Steve Smith as the NFC took back the lead 35-31 as Akers added his fifth PAT with 11:12 left in the third.

The NFC executed its second successful onside kick and Newton was off to the races once more, quickly moving his team into scoring position. But the AFC ended the drive on another Newton intercpetion, this time by Houston defensive back Jonathan Joseph.

From there, the AFC scored four unanswered touchdowns. The first was a 47-yard touchdown pass from Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton to Miami's Brandon Marshall with 3:53 left in the third as Janikowski added his fifth PAT to make it 38-35. It was the third touchdown catch of the game for Marshall.

The AFC built the lead to 10 points on a 1-yard touchdown run by Baltimore's Vonta Leach that culminated the 45-yard scoring drive. Janikowski added another PAT to make it 45-35 AFC with 11:40 left in the game.

Marshall caught his fourth touchdown pass, the second from Dalton, with 8:25 left as the AFC extended its advantage to 52-35 with 21 unanswered points. And it just kept building as the AFC intercepted a Newton pass, his third of the game, and returned it 60 yards for the score to make it 59-35 AFC.

Newton threw a late touchdown pass of 36 yards to Arizona wideout Larry Fitzgerald to make it 59-41. It was his third touchdown catch of the game as Fitzgerald sparked the NFC in the first half. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw two touchdown passes 9 seconds apart to Fitzgerald to set the stage for the NFC, before Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger countered with a pair of his own.

The AFC took the opening kickoff, but had its drive die at the 50 on an errant fourth-down play, setting up the NFC in excellent field position. Rodgers took advantage, driving the NFC 50 yards on eight plays. The last one was a 10-yard scoring strike to Fitzgerald as David Akers added the PAT to make it 7-0 with 9:14 left in the first.

The NFC executed a perfect onside kick, recovering it at the AFC's 44. Rodgers wasted little time finding a wide open Fitzgerald for the touchdown, giving the NFC a 14-0 lead with 9:05 left in the first.

The AFC came back with a nice 78-yard scoring drive of its own as Roethlisberger overcame an interception by Green Bay's Clay Matthews that was fumbled by Chicago's Julius Peppers on the return and recovered by the AFC. Roethlisberger eventually found Cincinatti's A.J. Green on a 34-yard scoring strike as Janikowski added the PAT to make it 14-7 NFC with 6:54 left in the first.

The NFC was driving, but fumbled on its ensuing series. Roethlisberger made the NFC pay by firing a 74-yard touchdown pass to Marshall as Janikowski added the PAT to make it 14-14 with 2:35 left in the first.

The NFC regained the lead on a proficient 80-yard drive by New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, whose 1-yard touchdown pass on fourth down to Saints teammate Jimmy Graham made it 21-14 with 9:47 in the second quarter as Akers added his third PAT.

But the AFC came right back under the direction of San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers as he led his team on a solid 80-yard drive that culminated with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Marshall as Janikowski added his third PAT to draw even 21-21 with 5:22 left in the half.

The NFC came right back with an 80-yard scoring drive that was helped by a converted fake punt. Brees did the rest as the NFC marched steadily down the field, setting up an 11-yard touchdown pass from Brees to Green Bay wideout Greg Jennings as Akers added the PAT to make it 28-21 NFC with 2:36 left in the half.

Rivers led the AFC on a nice drive just before the half to make it 28-28 on a 27-yard scoring pass from Rivers to Chargers teammate Antonio Gates as Janikowski added his fourth PAT with no time left on the clock.

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