NFC forces 5 turnovers to win sloppy Pro Bowl
HONOLULU - MVP DeAngelo Hall had one of his team's five interceptions and returned a fumble 34 yards for a touchdown to help the NFC match a Pro Bowl scoring record in a 55-41 win over the AFC Sunday night in a game not nearly as interesting as the score would indicate.
Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning and Matt Cassel threw first-half interceptions to help the NFC blow open a 42-0 lead in a performance ugly even by the historically low standards of this game. Fittingly for this strange contest, Browns center Alex Mack scored the final touchdown on a 67-yard pass play that featured two laterals with 16 seconds left.
Carolina's Jon Beason returned the fifth interception thrown by the AFC, and second by Cassel, 59 yards for the NFC's final touchdown to match the single-team scoring record set in the NFC's 55-52 victory in 2004.
Pro Bowls are, by their nature, laid-back affairs, seemingly played at half speed by players whose biggest concern is to get on the plane home without injury. The AFC, though, took that attitude to an uncomfortable extreme early before coming back to outscore the NFC 41-13.
Rivers, starting in place of injured Tom Brady, was picked off twice in the first quarter, the second by Hall, the Redskins' cornerback.
Manning came on briefly in relief and his second pass was picked off. Then Cassel got his chance and quickly joined in the spirit of things, throwing his second pass directly to Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield.
But just when it appeared it would be the most one-sided Pro Bowl ever, eclipsing the 45-3 NFC rout in 1984, the AFC scored three touchdowns in a row. The last came off the game's seventh turnover, when the Bears' Devin Hester tried to hand the kickoff return to Hall, but the ball fell to the turf. The Jaguars' Montell Owens scooped it up and ran it in 10 yards to make it 42-21 with 10 minutes left in the third quarter.