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NFC dominates AFC in high-scoring affair
Honolulu, HI (Sports Network) - If play didn't improve commissioner Roger Goodell threatened to expunge the Pro Bowl.
The motivated players didn't want to be known as the group to lead to the game's cancellation and take away an honor for future participants.
Scoring was still aplenty, although effort was shown throughout in the NFC's 62-35 victory over the AFC.
The past two years the game was played as if it was a bad walkthrough.
The NFC's 62 points was a new Pro Bowl single-game mark, eclipsing the AFC's total of 59 from last year.
Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph, a late entrant for Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez, was named the game's MVP with a touchdown and 122 yards receiving on five receptions.
Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt went out for a pass as a wide receiver and retiring Green Bay Packers center Jeff Saturday lined up on the AFC side for one play to snap to his longtime teammate Peyton Manning.
Saturday, who entered the league as a non-drafted free agent, played for the Colts from 1999-2011 before joining Green Bay. In addition to making six Pro Bowls, Saturday was a first-team All-Pro twice and second-team All-Pro two times.
In the year of the rookie quarterback, the Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson and the Indianapolis Colts' Andrew Luck were among 30 players making their debut in the Pro Bowl, which was the 43rd meeting between the AFC and NFC All- Stars. The NFC took a 22-21 lead in the all-time series.
Wilson tossed three touchdown passes and accumulated 98 yards through the air on 8-of-10 passing. Luck threw two scores to go with an interception and led the AFC in passing yards with 205 on 12-of-19 efficiency.
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who is one of the favorites for the MVP Award and was nine yards shy of Eric Dickerson's all-time rushing mark, carried the ball just five times for 13 yards.
New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz set a Pro-Bowl record with 10 receptions for 96 yards and a score.
The Cincinnati Bengals' A.J. Green hauled in three scores and caught seven balls for 119 yards.
Another frontrunner for the MVP Award, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, completed 6-of-12 passes for 43 yards and a touchdown.
After Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson returned an interception 42 yards for a score to put the AFC on top, 14-10, early in the second quarter, the NFC countered with 28 unanswered points that bridged the second and third frames to seize control.
Cruz caught a 9-yard touchdown and Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch plunged in from a yard out before Rudolph caught a 3-yard score with six ticks left in the second as the NFC went into the locker room with a 31-14 advantage.
Wilson hit Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin for a 28-yard touchdown on the NFC's first touch of the third to make it 38-14.
The margin reached its apex at 55-21 on the second play of the fourth when Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh nailed a 26-yard field goal.
This marked the fourth consecutive year in which the Pro Bowl was held one week prior to the Super Bowl, thereby removing members of the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens, who will meet in Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans on Feb. 3.
The NFC was hit particularly hard by the absence of San Francisco players since a conference-high nine 49ers were picked to play in Hawaii, marking nearly 21 percent of the conference's 43-man roster. That list included projected starters Joe Staley and Mike Iupati on the offensive line and Justin Smith, Aldon Smith, Patrick Willis, Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner from San Francisco's imposing defense. Running back Frank Gore and linebacker NaVorro Bowman also needed to be replaced.
Over in the AFC, six Ravens were tabbed for the contest: veteran safety Ed Reed and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata from Dean Pees' defense, running back Ray Rice, his lead blocker Vonta Leach and guard Marshal Yanda from the offense, along with return specialist Jacoby Jones.
Overall 16 players declined invitations, citing injury -- eight from both sides, including all three NFC quarterbacks -- the Packers' Aaron Rodgers, the Atlanta Falcons' Matt Ryan and Washington Redskins rookie Robert Griffin III.
The game does remain a success as a television vehicle, with last year's encounter being watched by an average of 12.5 million viewers, making it the most-watched All-Star game in American sports for the third consecutive year ... Each player on the winning NFC team receives $50,000, while each on the AFC squad ended up with $25,000 ... This was the 33rd time in the past 34 years in which the Pro Bowl was held at Aloha Stadium, with the 2010 edition having taken place at Miami's Sun Life Stadium.
01/28 00:11:50 ET
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