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NFL Pro Bowl: NFC Dominates, Defeats AFC 55-41 In Pro Bowl

(Sports Network) – Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan threw a pair of touchdown passes, and the NFC recorded five interceptions in a 55-41 rout of the AFC in the 2011 Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium.

Ryan, playing in his first Pro Bowl, completed 9-of-13 passes for 118 yards and an interception for the NFC, which bounced back from a 41-34 loss in last year’s annual all-star game.

Michael Vick of the Eagles started under center for the NFC and completed 5- of-10 passes for 59 yards. Saints quarterback Drew Brees connected on 4-of-6 passes for 68 yards.

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson carried the ball 14 times for 80 yards and a score. Michael Turner of the Falcons rushed for 53 yards on eight carries.

Atlanta’s Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez were the top two receivers for the NFC. White hauled in five passes for 69 yards and Gonzalez caught three passes for 42 yards and a touchdown.

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, starting in place of an injured Tom Brady, completed 17-of-26 passes for 192 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions for the AFC.

Peyton Manning of the Colts connected on 2-of-5 passes for 12 yards and an interception. Kansas City’s Matt Cassel completed 5-of-12 passes for 95 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles carried the ball 10 times for 72 yards and a score. Reggie Wayne of the Colts hauled in five passes for 86 yards and a touchdown.

After holding last year’s edition in Miami as part of the festivities for Super Bowl week, the Pro Bowl returned to Aloha Stadium, which had hosted the contest 30 consecutive times between 1980-2009.

The AFC’s first possession of the game resulted in a turnover on downs, and it was all NFC from that point on.

Vick got the NFC going on offense by orchestrating an 11-play drive. White highlighted the march with a 23-yard catch on 3rd-and-10. Faced with a 3rd- and-goal from the one, Ovie Mughelli rumbled into the end zone.

Rivers’ first interception of the game came on the first play of the ensuing possession. London Fletcher picked off Rivers and returned the ball 14 yards to the 43 of the AFC.

The NFC needed just five plays to find the end zone this time around. Peterson ran for 17 yards to the 14-yard line before scoring on the next play for a 14-0 game with one minute left.

On the final play of the first quarter, DeAngelo Hall intercepted Rivers in the end zone. Ryan came into the game for the NFC, but his first throw was intercepted by rookie Devin McCourty.

The interception parade continued on the ensuing AFC possession, as Manning was picked off by Brent Grimes. Ryan then led the NFC on a six-play, 58-yard drive. Devin Hester’s 19-yard run on a double reverse led to Ryan hooking up with Gonzalez on a four-yard score.

It just got worse for the AFC, as Wes Welker fumbled the football. Hall picked up the ball and raced 34 yards the other way to make it 28-0 with 10:21 remaining.

The AFC then went three-and-out, leading to Larry Fitzgerald’s 25-yard TD catch with 7:16 left. The AFC’s fifth turnover of the half — Cassel being picked off by Antoine Winfield — resulted in Steven Jackson’s 21-yard touchdown run to make it a 42-0 game.

Charles finally got the AFC on the board. The Chiefs running back ripped off a 32-yard run before scampering into the end zone from eight yards out to make it 42-7 at the half.

The AFC carried that momentum into the second half. Faced with a 4th-and-9, Rivers threw a 16-yard TD pass to Wayne. The NFC fumbled the football on the ensuing kickoff, and Montell Owens scored on a eight-yard return to cut the gap to 42-21.

David Akers made a 41-yard field goal with 6:01 left in the third to make it a 45-21 game. But Rivers and Marcedes Lewis hooked up on a 28-yard score with 50 ticks remaining to cut the gap to 45-28.

A 38-yard field goal from Akers with 4:06 to play extended the NFC’s margin to 48-28. Linebacker Jon Beason followed that up with a 49-yard interception return for a touchdown to make it 55-28.

Cassel and Owens hooked up for a seven-yard score with 1:55 left to make it a 20-point game again. Center Alex Mack of the Browns, playing in his first Pro Bowl, took a lateral and raced into the end zone to complete a 67-yard score with 16 seconds left.

Game Notes

Hall was named MVP of the game…The NFL stayed with another change instituted last season, with the game again taking place a week prior to the Super Bowl after previously being held on the Sunday that followed the championship match. As a result, representatives of the two combatants of Super Bowl XLV did not take part in the Pro Bowl, meaning five Green Bay players selected to the initial NFC roster and three Pittsburgh members tabbed to the AFC squad didn’t play…Also for the second straight year, coaches of the top-seeded losers of the Divisional Round of the playoffs guided their respective conferences. The AFC was led by New England’s Bill Belichick, with Atlanta’s Mike Smith directing the NFC troops…Vick made his first Pro Bowl appearance since coming back from his well-documented two-year incarceration for involvement in an illegal dog-fighting operation.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.