It was a rainy day in Orlando, and the weather reflected the quality of the game being played.
The 2018 NFL Pro Bowl well about as well as you’d expect it to. Considering 35 alternates had to be named to replace players from the original rosters, the hype for this one was pretty low. The players evidently felt the same for the most part, but the finish was fairly exciting, as the AFC won late over the NFC 24-23.
The opening drive took most of the first quarter up, ending with a Drew Brees touchdown pass to Adam Thielen for the NFC. The AFC responded by killing the rest of the opening period, getting a Chris Boswell field goal with less than a minute left.
On the next possession, the NFC punted, which Tyreek Hill muffed and special teamer Budda Baker recovered, setting up a Graham Gano field goal. The AFC drove into NFC territory and decided to go for it on 4th-and-7, failing badly. Ben Roethlisberger tossed an interception to Harrison Smith who scored on a 79-yard pick six.
To begin the second half, the AFC quickly drove for a TD on a Smith pass to Delanie Walker. Russell Wilson then gave the ball back on the next drive due to a miscommunication with Michael Thomas. Casey Hayward picked the pass off and lateralled the ball to Reshad Jones and Jalen Ramsey on the return.
Derek Carr entered the game and fired a deep jump ball pass to T.Y. Hilton that put the AFC near the goal line, setting up a short TD run for LeSean McCoy. The NFC would convert a third Gano field goal early in the fourth quarter.
The AFC turned the ball over on downs after Carr overshot Hill on a deep throw. The NFC did the same on the following possession, though Carr immediately threw a long INT to Peterson. Another turnover on downs for the NFC came via a dropped INT from Terrell Suggs.
Carr converted a clutch 4th-down conversion on a pass to Jarvis Landry, which led to a beautiful TD throw from Carr to Walker to take the lead for the AFC with less than two minutes to go. Jared Goff would get strip-sacked by Cameron Heyward and Von Miller on the final NFC drive to close things out.
Walker caught 4 passes for 29 yards to go with the two TD catches, earning the offensive MVP award. Landry led the AFC in receptions with 5 grabs for 78 yards, while Hilton led the team in yardage with 4 catches for 98 yards.
Carr had 115 yards and the game-winner on 11 for 15 passing. Smith finished with 131 yards and a TD on 7 for 10 passing. Roethlisberger, who started the game for the AFC, just 50 yards on 7 for 13 passing. All three threw one INT.
Kyle Rudolph was the high man for the NFC with 7 catches for 70 yards. Thielen had 3 catches for 25 yards and a score. The three NFC passers were all about even (Goff: 10 for 18, 86 yards; Wilson: 9 for 14, 69 yards, INT; Brees: 7 for 9, 66 yards, TD).
Miller earned the defensive MVP award for the game-ending strip-sack. Peterson had two INTs. Telvin Smith led all players in total tackles with 8.
The Super Bowl is next week. Hallelujah.