MIAMI - In its new role as a warmup to the Super Bowl, the Pro Bowl became a series of wind sprints. Long gains were the rule and hard hitting was the exception last night as the AFC beat the NFC, 41-34.
Light showers fell for much of the game but uniforms remained mostly spotless, with more pushing and shoving than tackling. The AFC totaled 517 yards and the NFC 470. Both teams threw for more than 400 yards. Matt Schaub of the Houston Texans threw for 189 yards and two AFC scores and was chosen the most valuable player.
From the standpoint of ticket sales, this year's new venue and slot on the league calendar was a success. The crowd of 70,697 was the largest for a Pro Bowl since 1959 in Los Angeles.
The NFL sought to transform the Pro Bowl into a bigger game by playing it before the Super Bowl for the first time. In a one-year experiment, the league also moved the game from Honolulu, its home since 1980. The game will return to Honolulu in 2011 and 2012, but the league hasn't decided whether to hold those games before or after the Super Bowl.
The stadium was half empty by the third quarter, perhaps because of the rain and temperatures in the 60s. It was sunny and 82 in Honolulu at game time.
"It's so awesome," Garrard said. "One of my goals coming into the game was to just be relevant and show all the people who said, 'What is he doing in there? The Pro Bowl has dropped off a few pegs!' that I do belong."
Chad Ochocinco had a 40-yard reception but didn't do any kicking after practicing placements and punts for the AFC during the week. "That's OK,'' he said. "It was fun anyway."