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Overshadowed by an offensive onslaught
There were 100 points scored, not to mention a combined 1,162 yards. Wedged in between all that, there also was a coverage tackle on special teams by Marshawn Lynch.
It could only happen in the Pro Bowl, which was the case on Sunday as the AFC grabbed a 59-41 victory over the NFC at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu. The combined yardage total in the 42nd edition of the NFL’s all-star game set a Pro Bowl record, and the points were seven shy of the record set in 2004.
In addition to Lynch, the Seahawks’ leading rusher who also finished with a team-high 43 yards on eight carries, four other Seahawks also represented the NFC: free safety Earl Thomas and fullback Michael Robinson, who were starters; cornerback Brandon Browner; and strong safety Kam Chancellor. They were among the 36 players who were appearing in the Pro Bowl for the first time.
Each of the Seahawks earned $25,000, while the members of the AFC squad got $50,000.
But Lynch’s efforts fell into the too-little, too-late category, as he ran for most of his yards in the fourth quarter after the AFC had taken a 52-35 lead.
Browner, a 6-foot-4 corner who became a starter in his first season with the Seahawks after playing the previous four years in the CFL, was involved in a little of everything in his first Pro Bowl. He was credited with three tackles and broke up a pass. But Browner also was beaten on Marshall’s 75-yard TD catch when he stumbled while in coverage and let an onside kick off get through his hands.
The onside kick came after the NFC’s first TD – a 10-yard pass from the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers to Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals – and was recovered by Charles Tillman of the Chicago Bears to setup Rodger’s 44-yard TD pass to Fitzgerald. That staked the NFC to a 14-0 just six minutes into the game.
Lynch’s special-teams tackle came after the New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees gave the NFC a 28-lead with an 11-yard TD pass to Greg Jennings of the Packers.
Thomas appeared to be in position to make an interception on Marshall’s third TD catch, but the Seahawks’ second-year free safety collided on the play with another defensive back. Marshall was able to kick the ball while lying on his back and then catch the carom for the score.
The game capped a long, emotional week for Robinson. He arrived in Honolulu on Tuesday only to fly to Penn State after Wednesday’s practice so he could speak at the memorial service of former Nittany Lions coach on Thursday. Robinson, who played for Paterno, then flew back to Hawaii on Friday, on a jet owned by Nike founder and CEO Phil Knight.
“Besides my religion and my mom, coach Paterno is the reason I'm here,” Robinson told the Associated Press said after practice Saturday.
Rodgers was just one of six quarterbacks who threw two TD passes in the game, as his effort was matched by Brees and the Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton for the NFC and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger, San Diego Chargers’ Philip Rivers and Cincinnati Bengals’ Andy Dalton for the NFC. But Newton, the first pick overall in last year’s NFL Draft, also was intercepted three times, which led to a pair of AFC touchdowns.
Marshall’s scoring plays covered 75, 29, 47 and 3 yards, and he had one in each quarter. The NFC had a trio of 100-yard receivers in the pass-happy game that saw the six QBs combine to throw 98 passes: Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (seven for 114); Fitzgerald (six for 111); and Steve Smith (five for 118) of the Carolina Panthers.