Sunday, December 17, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Jackson, Martin, McCoy help NFC beat AFC in Pro Bowl

HONOLULU — Texans defensive end J.J. Watt went out for a pass. The Packers' Jeff Saturday snapped to two Mannings, and the NFC blew past the AFC 62-35 in the Pro Bowl on Sunday.

Whether the game returns is a question the league plans to determine by April based on the players' effort.

If players were coasting, it was less obvious. The AFC just played poorly while the NFC was pretty much unstoppable on offense.

That included both Bucs. Vincent Jackson caught six passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns. Doug Martin caught three passes for 40 yards and a touchdown and ran three times for 8 yards.

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 after catching five passes for 122 yards and a touchdown.

"Guys were competing. Guys wanted to win, and guys want to keep the game here," he said. "That was the point before the game. We want to keep this game rolling for future Pro Bowlers."

Watt, who had 20½ sacks, lined up as a receiver on the AFC's third play but missed a pass from Denver's Peyton Manning. Watt was targeted once more but didn't make a catch. He later showed a TV camera a bloody left pinkie.

"Hey, Commish, we're playing hard," he said to NBC's Al Michaels during the in-game interview.

Saturday, who is retiring, snapped to Manning, his longtime teammate with the Colts, as well as Manning's brother, the Giants' Eli. Bucs tackle Gerald McCoy stopped Texans running back Arian Foster for a 2-yard loss on the snap to Peyton. That was McCoy's lone tackle, and he also recovered a fumble.

But even as the NFC piled up points, the game struggled for memorable moments. During the second quarter, referee Ed Hochuli drew laughs and cheers when announcing pass interference on Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey, the game's first flag.

"Yes, there are penalties in the Pro Bowl," he said.

The Giants' Victor Cruz broke a Pro Bowl record with 10 catches.

"We understood exactly what (Roger Goodell) wanted. Guys were making plays all over the field," Cruz said. "There was a little bit more high intensity than in years past, and we were excited to play."

Peterson confident: The league MVP will be announced Saturday. And the Vikings' Adrian Peterson, whose 2,097 rushing yards were 8 off the NFL record, believes he will beat out the other top candidate, Peyton Manning. "I'm going to win it," Peterson said. "I will get it."

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