The NFL’s Pro Bowl is typically a high scoring affair and yesterday’s game was no exception: The NFC squad won it 62-35 (and most of the AFC’s points came late in the game when it was all but over), largely on the stellar performance of the Seattle Seahawks delegation: Marshawn Lynch was the game’s leading rusher with 21 yards and a touchdown on just 4 carries; Safety Earl Thomas had an interception; kick returner Leon Washington ran 4 back for a total of 167 yards including one for 92; Offensive linemen Max Unger and Russell Okung were solid; and Quarterback Russell Wilson was brilliant as usual throwing 3 TD passes, scrambling like the second coming of Fran Tarkenton and setting the jaws of all in attendance at Aloha Stadium gaping…but for whatever reason the League saw fit to give the game MVP award to Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (he had 5 catches for 122 yards and a TD). Players have been accused in recent years of trying harder to not be injured than play the game, and after last year’s Pro Bowl game, which had the normally disinterested Hawaiian fans booing as linemen bumped into each other gently, commissioner Roger Goodell threatened to cancel the game forever if play didn’t improve. This led to an impassioned pre-game speech by Peyton Manning, and some sideline talk from other players interviewed during the game. Russell Wilson said “…if you watched us, everybody was competing today and it was really awesome…Go Hawks!” (He was at least). And Houston Texans sack machine J.J. Watt appeared on camera and said “Hey Commish, we’re playing hard!” as he displayed an extremely bloody but minorly injured pinkie finger. Was it enough to save the game? We’ll see.
More photographic evidence of “trying hard” in yesterday’s NFL Pro Bowl: