AFC fights off NFC to earn Pro Bowl victory

SHARE AFC fights off NFC to earn Pro Bowl victory
SHARE AFC fights off NFC to earn Pro Bowl victory

ORLANDO, Fla. — Andy Dalton completed 10 of 12 passes for 100 yards and led two scoring drives to help the AFC earn a 20-13 victory Sunday against the NFC in the Pro Bowl.

Dalton threw a 23-yard touchdown pass late in the first half to tight end Travis Kelce, who finished with three catches for 36 yards and was selected the offensive most valuable player. Dalton then guided the offense down the field to set up a 38-yard field goal by Justin Tucker that put the AFC ahead 17-7 midway through the third quarter.

Bears rookie Jordan Howard had five carries for 21 yards and caught two passes for 12 yards for the NFC. Guard Josh Sitton also represented the Bears.

In a game that mostly lacked spectacular play on either side, the AFC put together just enough scoring drives, then held on to preserve the victory.

It marked the return to the AFC vs. NFC matchup after the NFL used a format the last three years in which teams were drafted by designated captains.

The NFC had a chance to tie or take the lead in the waning moments, but Kirk Cousins’ pass to tight end Jimmy Graham went off his hands and was intercepted at the AFC’s 2-yard line by linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, who lateralled the ball to cornerback Aqib Talib on a return that ended at the NFC’s 12. Alexander was selected the most outstanding defensive player.

This was the first time the Pro Bowl was played in Orlando, and the ending certainly didn’t disappoint the 60,834 fans who packed Camping World Stadium.

Drew Brees completed 10 of 19 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown to lead the NFC. Alex Smith, who started for the AFC, was 6-for-8 for 74 yards and a touchdown.

In a first half defined by big plays and key interceptions, the AFC was able to come up with one more play to take a 14-7 lead into halftime.

The NFC should have had 17 points in the first half, but a decision not to a kick a chip-shot field goal and an interception in the end zone denied it points.

Dalton’s strike to Kelce put the AFC ahead 14-7 with 1:40 left in the second quarter. The touchdown was set up by a 36-yard punt return by Tyreek Hill to the NFC’s 38.

Brees had a 47-yard touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin earlier in the second quarter that had tied the score at 7. That made up for being intercepted by cornerback Stephon Gilmore in the back of the end zone earlier.

Smith put the AFC on the board first when he found tight end Delanie Walker for a 26-yard touchdown early in the second quarter.

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