HONOLULU – Sack-happy defensive end J.J. Watt went out for a pass as a wide receiver, retiring center Jeff Saturday snapped to two Mannings on opposite teams and the NFC blew past the AFC 62-35 in a Pro Bowl that could be the league’s last.
Whether the NFL’s all-star game will return or not is a question league officials will ponder the next few months. And, the players gave plenty to consider on both sides of the argument Sunday.
The NFC was unstoppable on offense, with nearly each player putting up fantasy-type lines in limited play. The AFC, meanwhile, had five turnovers and scored most of its points well after the game was no longer competitive.
Minnesota tight end Kyle Rudolph was voted the game’s MVP with 122 yards and a touchdown.
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 later showed a television camera a bloody left pinkie, joking with NBC telecasters that the players were trying.
Hey, Commish, we’re playing hard, Watt said as he showed his bloodied finger.
Roger Goodell has said the Pro Bowl won’t be played again if play didn’t improve this year.
If players were coasting this time around, it was less obvious. The AFC just played poorly.
Saturday, the Green Bay center 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 longtime former Colts teammate. Saturday then played later in the game for the NFC, snapping to Peyton’s brother, Giants quarterback Eli Manning.