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Odell Beckham Jr. has slow start in Pro Bowl

AFC cornerback Stephon Gilmore, of the Bills, intercepts

AFC cornerback Stephon Gilmore, of the Bills, intercepts a pass intended for the Giants' Odell Beckman Jr. during the first half of the NFL Pro Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Orlando, Fla. Credit: AP / Chris O’ Meara

ORLANDO, Fla. — Odell Beckham Jr. did his best to make a splash at the Pro Bowl on Sunday night, but it wasn’t in the cards early on at Camping World Stadium.

The Giants receiver, playing in his third Pro Bowl in as many NFL seasons, got the ball on the first play of the game, catching a screen pass from Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott for a 6-yard gain. Although 31 passes were attempted in the first half, Beckham didn’t get another catch until the final two minutes of the second quarter.

On first-and-goal from the 4-yard line, the Saints’ Drew Brees tried to get the ball to Beckham, but the pass was intercepted by the Bills’ Stephon Gilmore. Beckham playfully picked him up in the end zone after the interception.

Late in the first half, Brees connected with Beckham for a 15-yard gain. Soon after that, he had him open deep, but the ball was underthrown and Beckham couldn’t get to it. He finished the half with two catches for 21 yards on five targets.

Beckham wasn’t targeted once in the third quarter. He had a 42-yard catch-and-run on a pass from the Redskins’ Kirk Cousins early in the fourth quarter, which was the game’s second-longest play at that point.

The game was played in Orlando for the first time, with a sellout crowd of 60,834 on hand as the game was moved from its longtime home in Hawaii.

Beckham was kept under wraps, as was much of the offense for much of the first half. The AFC led 14-7 after a late touchdown pass from the Bengals’ Andy Dalton to Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. Brees’ 47-yard touchdown pass to the Seahawks’ Doug Baldwin tied it up after an early scoring connection by the Chiefs’ Alex Smith and Titans tight end Delanie Walker.

The AFC led 17-7 entering the fourth, putting the game on course to be the lowest-scoring Pro Bowl since 1993 (23-20). Beckham didn’t have a chance to get any of his signature one-handed catches, though Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas had one for the AFC squad.

Beckham had five catches for 89 yards in the Pro Bowl as a rookie two years ago, and one catch for 14 yards in last year’s game.

Giants safety Landon Collins, playing in his first Pro Bowl, got a splash play of his own. Facing a fourth-and-5 in the first quarter from the AFC 45, the NFC called a fake punt. Collins took a direct snap and ran left but was stopped for a 1-yard gain to turn the ball over on downs.

The Giants’ Dwayne Harris had a quiet game with two punt returns for 10 yards. Defensive lineman Leonard Williams — the lone Jets player in the game — played but did not have any statistics in the first half.


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