Recap: Team Sanders vs. Team Rice
Honolulu, HI (SportsNetwork.com) - It took a fantasy style draft along with a few slight rule changes, but Roger Goodell finally found a way to make the Pro Bowl competitive.
DeMarco Murray caught a 20-yard touchdown pass with under a minute left and Mike Tolbert followed with a go-ahead two-point conversion run, as Team Rice secured a 22-21 win over Team Sanders on Sunday in the 2014 Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium.
The familiar AFC-NFC dynamic that had existed since 1971 was replaced by Pro Football Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders serving as alumni team captains for the two Pro Bowl squads.
Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles, the last pick in the draft for Team Sanders, and Cleveland tight end Jordan Cameron, Sanders' second-to-last pick, hooked up for a 12-yard score with 4:41 left to break a 14-all tie.
Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith was picked off on Team Rice's next touch, but following a punt from Team Sanders, Smith led his squad 58 yards in four plays, culminating in his scoring strike to Murray with 41 seconds left.
After Tolbert surged up the middle on the decisive two-point conversion, Foles got Team Sanders close enough to try a 67-yard field goal, but Justin Tucker's kick was short, giving Team Rice the victory.
Foles finished 7-of-10 for 89 yards and was named the Offensive MVP, while Kansas City linebacker Derrick Johnson took home Defensive MVP honors after racking up eight tackles and a forced fumble.
Team Rice was captained by New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees and St. Louis defensive end Robert Quinn, with Brees' teammate Jimmy Graham and Eagles running back LeSean McCoy serving as the team's top two picks.
Brees and Graham got together on an 8-yard touchdown early in the second quarter, while San Diego's Philip Rivers went 8-of-13 passing for 94 yards and a score with two interceptions.
Cleveland's Josh Gordon grabbed Rivers' 10-yard TD pass in the first half.
Ron Rivera and the Carolina Panthers' coaching staff guided Team Rice, while Chuck Pagano and the Indianapolis Colts' coaches manned the sideline for Team Sanders.
Houston defensive lineman J.J. Watt and Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles served as captains for Team Sanders, while quarterbacks Cam Newton and Andrew Luck were selected with Sanders' first two picks.
Newton completed 8-of-17 passes for 95 yards with an interception and rushed for a 1-yard score, while Luck connected on 5-of-7 throws for 80 yards, 36 of which came on a first-quarter flea flicker to Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson, who hauled in the pass amid two defenders in the end zone.
As part of the rule changes for the Pro Bowl, there was a two-minute warning in the first and third quarters and no kickoffs. Instead, the ball was placed at the 25-yard line at the start of each quarter and after scoring plays.
A 35-second/25-second play clock was adopted instead of the typical 40- second/25-second clock and the defense was permitted to play cover-2 or press coverage, compared to previous years when only man coverage was allowed.
It was the first Pro Bowl decided by a single point since the 1982 contest, thanks in large part to the defenses combining for nine sacks and eight forced turnovers.
Vontaze Burfict and Joe Haden each picked off a pass for Team Rice, while Eric Berry, Brent Grimes, Patrick Peterson and Dontari Poe each recorded an interception for Team Sanders in the setback.
Each player on Team Rice took home $53,000, while each on Team Sanders earned $26,000.Game Notes
It was the fifth consecutive year in which the Pro Bowl was held one week
prior to the Super Bowl ... Foles and Johnson were each given a new GMC
vehicle and an MVP medallion to commemorate their achievements ... Falcons
tight end Tony Gonzalez grabbed three passes for 50 yards in his final game as
the 15-time Pro Bowler announced his retirement following the conclusion of
the regular season ... Charles rushed for a game-high 43 yards on five carries
... Washington's Alfred Morris caught four passes for a game-high 69 yards on
Team Sanders ... Gordon led all receivers with six grabs.