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For NFC, it's just too easy

Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall, named the game’s MVP, celebrates his interception in the first quarter for the NFC.

Associated Press

Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall, named the game’s MVP, celebrates his interception in the first quarter for the NFC.

HONOLULU — The NFC could certainly be happy about its performance. As for the AFC? Not so much.

MVP DeAngelo Hall had one of his team's five interceptions and returned a fumble 34 yards for a touchdown to help the NFC match a Pro Bowl scoring record in a 55-41 victory over the turnover-prone AFC.

Hall gets a new Cadillac for his efforts.

"I was just about to buy another SUV," the Redskins cornerback said, "so to come out here and grab one for free, I like that."

AFC quarterbacks Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning and Matt Cassel each threw first-half interceptions to help the NFC blow open a 42-0 lead in a performance ugly even by the historically low standards of this game.

Fittingly for this strange contest, Browns center Alex Mack scored the final touchdown on a 67-yard pass play that featured two laterals with 16 seconds left.

Panthers linebacker Jon Beason returned the fifth interception thrown by the AFC, and second by Cassel, 59 yards for the NFC's final touchdown to match the single-team scoring record set in the NFC's 55-52 victory in 2004.

New England coach Bill Belichick, after his Super Bowl favorite Patriots lost to the Jets in the division playoffs, had to watch his AFC squad muddle through the one-sided first half.

"It is what it is," Belichick said.

Pro Bowls are laid-back affairs, but the AFC took that attitude to an uncomfortable extreme early on before coming back to outscore the NFC 41-13.

"It was okay. Not bad for an All-Star game, I guess," Patriots receiver Wes Welker told the Boston Herald. "But we didn't play well overall, especially early on. We let the game get away from us. That's how these games go."

Welker tied for a game high with five catches for 34 yards but gave up the fumble that led to Hall's 34-yard return for a score.

The NFC led 42-0 after Steven Jackson waltzed in for a 21-yard touchdown — with 4½ minutes left in the second quarter.

Rivers, starting in place of injured Tom Brady, was picked off twice in the first quarter.

"You underthrow one just a hair and they intercept it," Rivers said. "You get a deflection for an interception. … They had all the breaks early."

Manning, in his 11th Pro Bowl, came on briefly in relief, and his second pass was picked off. Then Cassel got his chance and quickly joined in the spirit of things, throwing his second pass directly into the hands of Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield.

But just when it appeared it would be the most one-sided game in Pro Bowl history, eclipsing the Joe Theismann-led 45-3 NFC romp in 1984, the AFC scored three touchdowns in a row. The last came on the game's seventh turnover, when Devin Hester tried to hand the kickoff return to Hall, but the ball fell to the turf. The Jaguars' Montell Owens scooped it up and ran 10 yards for the score to make it 42-21 with 10 minutes left in the third quarter.

With his seven extra points, tying a Pro Bowl record, along with two field goals, David Akers moved ahead of Morten Andersen (45) for most Pro Bowl points with 52. The Eagles kicker would have had more, but his 36-yard field goal try in the fourth quarter bounced off the right upright.

A tropical downpour preceded the game but subsided just before kickoff as the contest returned to its traditional home in Hawaii after a one-year detour to Miami.

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick started but played the first quarter, going 5-of-10 for 59 yards.

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson rushed for 80 yards on 14 carries for the NFC, including a 14-yarder to set a Pro Bowl record with four career rushing touchdowns. Former Buc Mike Alstott, Earl Campbell and Chuck Muncie had three.

Atlanta got good performances from Matt Ryan (9-of-13 for 118 yards and two touchdowns with an interception), Michael Turner (eight carries for 53 yards) and Roddy White (five catches for 69 yards).

For NFC, it's just too easy 01/30/11 [Last modified: Monday, January 31, 2011 12:27am]
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