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NFC breeze to Pro Bowl win

NFC cruise to Pro Bowl record 62-35 victory over the AFC prompting speculation all-star season-ender might be the last.
Last Modified: 28 Jan 2013 13:15
The National Conference (NFC) leads the American Conference (AFC) rivalry 22-12 and Sunday’s win set a one-team Pro Bowl scoring record [Reuters]

The NFC beat the AFC in another offensive blowout of a Pro-Bowl on Sunday that could well be the last of the annual NFL all-star games.

Half-hearted defence and a growing reluctance of some players to be involved had created debate about whether to keep the Pro Bowls going.

Sunday's 62-35 result delivered evidence for both sides of the argument.

Unstoppable

The NFC were unstoppable on offence, while the AFC had five turnovers and scored most of their points well after the game was no longer competitive.

Minnesota tight end Kyle Rudolph was voted the game's MVP with five catches for 122 yards and a touchdown.

Defensive end J.J. Watt, who had 20 1/2 sacks for Houston, lined up as a wide receiver on the AFC's third play from scrimmage, but missed a pass from Denver quarterback Peyton Manning. He was targeted one more time, but didn't make a catch.

Whether the Pro Bowl will return or not is a question league officials will ponder the next few months, with a decision expected by April, when next season's fixtures are released.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said the Pro Bowl won't be played again if play didn't improve this year. Last year, fans in Hawaii booed as lineman were clearly not trying.

If players were coasting this time around, it was less obvious. The AFC just played poorly. And fans didn't boo much - the stands were relatively empty even though the game sold enough tickets to lift a local television blackout.

Jeff Saturday, the Green Bay centre retiring at the end of this season, played for both teams though he came representing the NFC. He lined up on one play for the AFC to snap the ball one last time to Manning, his long-time former Colts teammate.

Saturday played 13 seasons in Indianapolis, all with Manning - except 2011, when Manning was out with a neck injury. Saturday then played later in the game for the NFC, snapping to Peyton's brother, Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

Hardly memorable

Even as the NFC piled up touchdowns, the game struggled for memorable moments.

In the second quarter, referee Ed Hochuli drew cheers when announcing a pass interference penalty on Denver cornerback Champ Bailey in the second quarter - the first flag of the game.

"Yes, there are penalties in the Pro Bowl,'' Hochuli said, drawing laughs and loud cheers.

New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz broke a Pro Bowl record with 10 catches. Tampa Bay receiver Vincent Jackson had 91 yards and two touchdowns.

Eli Manning threw for 191 yards and two touchdowns, while Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson had three touchdown passes in the second half.

Cincinnati's A.J. Green had three TD catches for the AFC.

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