HONOLULU, HI - JANUARY 29: Fans enjoy the 2012 NFL Pro Bowl pre game show at Aloha Stadium on January 29, 2012 in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)
At least there was one thing good about the Pro Bowl, as Brownie's Year stated in our game thread last night:
"Thomas has been manhandling Allen all game."
In all seriousness, early on in the game, the Pro Bowl didn't do much to change anyone's opinions about the entertainment one can take in from watching the contest. When Aaron Rodgers handed off to LeSean McCoy on the first running play of the day for the NFC, it was pretty embarrassing how obvious the lack of effort (intentionally) was for all of the players involved. It was as if I paused my television screen and used my remote to make things go in super-slow-motion.
Things did pick up a little bit after that, if we're grasping for straws. We got to see several plays that involved laterals, something I usually get a kick out of. The NFC went for a "surprise" onside kick twice and recovered the ball both times. That didn't help them in the long run though, because when Cameron Newton entered the game, it almost seemed like he was on the receiving end of a "rookie hazing." All of a sudden, there were spurts in which defensive linemen/linebackers Geno Atkins, Dwight Freeney, Richard Seymour, or Von Milleractually gave an effort to rush Newton out of the pocket, even delivering a few hits on him. Newton seemed dazed as he only completed 9-of-27 passes for 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. It was during his time under center that the AFC was able to pull away.
Other highlights included Drew Brees attempting (but failing) on a drop-kick extra point, Brandon Marshall catching a record-breaking four touchdown passes (including one that had a pretty wacky bounce that saw the ball land in his lap while he was on the ground in the end zone), and a couple of halftime interviews with Tom Brady and Eli Manning as the NBC Sports crew sat in a dark, empty Lucas Oil Stadium.
Next up? The Super Bowl. Our coverage will be non-stop throughout the week, including our annual features of "why [insert team here] will win it all."