NFL 2011-2012 Pro Bowl Recap

Tonight from Hawaii is the annual NFL Pro Bowl.

The AFC and the NFC again will not have players from either of the Super Bowl teams, as the attempt to keep the Pro Bowl relevant is a constant struggle. It is a great game to attend live simply because of all of the action and festivities in Honolulu the entire week. Waikiki Beach features many fun NFL events.

Yet on television the game is not very compelling unless a lot of action happens. In this game it did.

The Pro Bowl is meant to be entertainment, which means as much offense and trick plays as possible with little to no defense.

The AFC began after a touchback and Ben Roethlisberger hit hit teammate Mike Wallace for 25 yards. On 4th and 4 from midfield, the AFC decided to go for it. Big Ben threw incomplete. Aaron Rodgers took over for the NFC and hit Steve Smith for 15, Tony Gonzalez for 8, Graham for 11 on 3rd and 6, and Larry Fitzgerald for the 10 yard touchdown to put the NFC up 7-0. The NFC then tried a surprise onsides kick, which they recovered at the AFC 44. One play was enough for Rodgers to go deep to Fitzgerald for the touchdown to make it 14-0 NFC.

The AFC soon faced 3rd and 10 at their own 20. Big Ben was intercepted by Clay Matthews. Matthews lateraled to Peanut Tillman, who lateraled it to Julius Peppers. Peppers fumbled it, and Vincent Jackson recovered for the AFC at their own 22. Big Ben then hit Antonio Gates for 33 yards. Maurice Jones-Drew ran for 11, and Roethisberger went deep to AJ Green for the 34 yard touchdown to get the AFC within 14-7.  The NFC then moved from their own 20 to a 2nd and 2 at the AFC 38. McCoy gained 8 but fumbled, and Champ Bailey recovered to put the AFC at their own 15. Ben Roethlisberger went deep to Brandon Marshall for a 74 yard touchdown to tie the game 14-14.

The NFC soon faced 3rd and 2 at their own 34. In a bizarre moment even for the Pro Bowl, Aaron Rodgers completed a pass to himself. It went for a 15 yard loss and the game had its first punt as the opening quarter ended. From the AFC 47, Philip Rivers came in at quarterback. He hit his teammate Vincent Jackson for a 25 yard gain. Rivers hit Willis McGahee for 20 more, but on 1st and goal at the 8 Rivers was intercepted in the end zone by Patrick Peterson for a touchback.

Drew Brees came in at quarterback for the NFC, and on 3rd and 6 from their 24, He hit Fitzgerald for 13 and Gonzalez for a pair of 26 yard gains. From the 8, Matt Forte gained 7 and lost one, and on 4th and goal at the 2, the NFC decided to go for it. Brees hit teammate Graham for the score as the NFC led 21-14. The AFC soon faced 3rd and 2 at their own 28. Rivers hit Gates for 7 and Vonte Leach for 13. On 3rd and 5 from the NFC 47, Rivers hit Jackson for 18 and Marshall for a 29 yard touchdown to make it 21-21.

The NFC went 3 and out, but on 4th and 3 from their own 27, a fake punt worked as Lee hit Peterson for 8. This only happens in the Pro Bowl. Brees hit Graham for 25 and again for 29, and then Greg Jennings for the 11 yard touchdown to put the NFC up 28-21. With just over 2 minutes left in the half, the AFC faced 3rd and 10 at their own 21. Rivers hit Brown for 9. On 4th and 1 from their own 30, the AFC went for it. This was the Pro Bowl. Leach got the yard. On 4th and 4 from their own 37 with 42 seconds left in the half, the AFC again went for it. Rivers hit Jackson for 15, Jones-Drew for 21, and Gates for a 27 yard touchdown just as the half ended. 4 touchdowns made it 14-14 after one and 4 more touchdowns made it 28-28 at halftime.

The points slowed in the third quarter as Cam Newton took over for the NFC. He hooked up with teammate Steve Smith for 8 and 33, but was then intercepted by Eric Weddle. Weddle returned it 63 yards to the NFC 23. Andy Dalton came in at quarterback for the AFC. On 4th and 6 the game actually saw a field goal try, and Sebastian Janikowski came in for the 37 yarder. After 12 years Seabass was finally in the Pro Bowl, and the Polish Cannon put the AFC up 31-28. It barely lasted as the NFC took over at their own 35. Newton ran for 10 and went deep to Smith for the 55 yard touchdown to put the NFC up 35-31.

The NFC attempted another onsides kick, and again David Akers kicked a good one that the NFC recovered at the AFC 42. Newton moved the NFC to the AFC 18, but on 3rd and 10 he was intercepted by Joseph, who returned it 26 yards to the AFC 36. Jones-Drew then broke free for a 39 yard gain. On 3rd and 5 from the 9, Dalton went to his teammate Green, but at the 1, Green fumbled and the NFC recovered for a touchback. Marshawn Lynch then fumbled, resulting in an 8 yard loss. The NFC went 3 and out and punted. Brown returned it 27 yards to the NFC 47, and one play was enough for Dalton to go deep to Marshall for the touchdown to put the AFC on top 38-35. The NFC would again punt on their next drive. For the most of the game players take it somewhat easy, but the winning team get a larger amount of money per player, and then try to actually win the game.

Brown returned the punt 46 yards to the NFC 45. Dalton hit Gresham for 14 to the NFC 29 as the third quarter ended. The fourth quarter saw an exciting game turn into a blowout. The AFC went basic as Mathews ran for 5, 4, and 5 on 3rd and 1. McGahee gained 9. Leach added 5 more and then the final yard to put the AFC up 45-35 with 12 minutes left in regulation.

The NFC again went 3 and out and Brown returned the punt 32 yards to the NFC 30. Dalton hit Marshall for 17, and on 3rd and goal from the 3, Dalton hit Marshall again for the score as the AFC led 52-35 with 11 minutes left. The NFC soon faced 4th and 7 from their 43. Newton hit Gonzalez for 20. Yet on 4th and 15 from the AFC 42, Newton was intercepted by Weddle. Weddle returned it 27 yards to the AFC 40, and then lateraled it to Johnson, who took it the final 60 yards for the clinching touchdown as the AFC led 59-35 with 6 minutes left.

After a touchback with the game out of reach, now the goal was just to have fun and avoid anybody getting hurt in what is basically a pickup practice game. Lynch ran for 8 and 15, and on 3rd and 2, 13 more. Newton then hit Fitzgerald for a 36 yard touchdown. Drew Brees then came on the field. The leading single season passer in NFL history attempted a drop kick extra point, in honor of Doug Flutie. Flutie kicked one for the first time in 60 years a few years ago, and now he was in the broadcast booth. Brees missed it, and is now 0 for 1 in drop kicks. The NFC decided against an onsides kick and did not use timeouts as the AFC ran out the clock.

All 3 AFC quarterbacks had 2 touchdown passes while Rivers and Roethlisberger were each intercepted once. Rivers was 11 of 19 for 190 in one quarter and Roethlisberger was 6 of 11 for 181 in his one quarter. Dalton was 7 of 9 for 99 in one half. In the NFC, all 3 quarterbacks also had 2 touchdown passes. Rodgers and Brees were not intercepted as Brees went 10 of 14 for 146 and Rodgers was 13 of 17 for 141, each in one quarter. Newton had a tough game, playing one half and going 9 of 27 for 186 yards but with 3 interceptions. The teams combined for 100 points, not the highest total. Next week the Giants and Patriots play in the Super Bowl, and for now the Pro Bowl is in the books. 59-41 AFC


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