It’s a challenge to find better television entertainment than the Pro Bowl (excluding Cinemax After Dark obviously). The NFC stomped the AFC 62-35, avenging their loss the year before. There were rumors Roger Goodell would cancel the NFL All-Star game if effort was weak, but the players delivered. Here are the most and least valuable performers from each quarter:
Q1 MVP: Drew Brees, QB (NFC)
Sean Payton’s reinstatement reinvigorated Brees, who delivered tight spirals to 4 different targets. By the end of the quarter, the signal caller was 8 for 11, gaining 131 yards and a touchdown. The score was a perfectly lobbed 36 yard toss to injury substitute Vincent Jackson.
Q1 LVP: Adrian Peterson, RB (NFC)
“I’m going to play hard,” exclaimed Peterson, when asked about his Pro Bowl plans. The All-Pro running back set the tone early by fumbling Drew Brees’ first handoff. The NFC recovered and scored a touchdown four plays later, and Peterson failed to redeem himself, producing 13 yards on 5 rushing attempts for a meager 2.6 yards per touch. He appeared burnt out after a record-setting regular season.
Q2 MVP: Kyle Rudolph, TE (NFC)
While pre-game hype circled around how Larry Fitzgerald would play with an adequate quarterback, Rudolph looked like a future Hall-of-Famer when Eli Manning fed him the ball. The tight end did his damage lining up out wide, corralling in a 52 yard reception early in the quarter and a touchdown on a fade route as time expired. Christian Ponder is taking notes. (Rudolph won game MVP.)
Q2 LVP: Matt Schaub, QB (AFC)
Schaub’s December and postseason slump carried into this exhibition, evident by an ill-advised throw in double coverage intercepted by William Moore. The quarterback entered halftime 2 for 6 earning 28 yards, and took a coverage sack. Schaub completed only one (wobbly) pass to Texans’ pal Andre Johnson.
Q3 MVP: Russell Wilson, QB (NFC)
Those Fran Tarkenton comparisons might be correct. The little quarterback that could torched the AFC secondary, connecting 5 of his 6 throws for 57 yards and 3 touchdowns. Wilson was sacked twice but eluded an aggressive pass rush for a majority of the period, affording his receivers extra time to separate.
Q3 LVP: Josh Cribbs, WR/KR (AFC)
Yes, Cribbs caught a touchdown, but it would have been overturned if not for the fact instant replay doesn’t exist in Hawaii (something Goodell must look into). The Cleveland Brown may deserve slack since he is rarely featured in the offense, but his botched lateral on a kick return was inexcusable.
Q4 MVP: Phil Dawson, K (AFC)
Dawson’s impact was minimal, but his onside kick with 11 minutes left deserves honorable mention. The AFC used a package designed for a regular kickoff, but Dawson (a right-footed kicker) re-aligned to the right (hinting an onside attempt) and kicked the ball back to the right using his heel. The pigskin didn’t travel the necessary distance (10 yards) to recover, but it was unofficially the greatest play in NFL history.
Honorable, honorable mention: A.J. Green.
Q4 LVP: Leon Washington, RB/KR (NFC)
The game was already a blowout and all the players mentally checked out, but Washington stunk up the joint. 5 rushing carries for 7 yards. His once-tantalizing potential as an explosive runner for the New York Jets is all but gone for good.