A quick play-by-play update on this year’s Pro Bowl, through just over a quarter.
Capitalizing on the Brees fumble, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning threw a six-yard touchdown dart to Bengals receiver A.J. Green in the back of the end zone. Green beat Bears cornerback Charles Tillman for the score, giving the AFC an early 7-0 lead.
On the NFC’s second drive, following the Brees fumble, Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph made a terrific catch in traffic for a gain of 23. On third-and-four later in the drive, Brees shook off heavy pressure from the AFC defense to find Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald streaking across the field on a drag route. Fitzgerald picked up a first down with a nine-yard gain.
Set up by the Rudolph and Fitzgerald catches, Brees dropped back to find Bucs receiver Vincent Jackson separated from coverage and hit him for a 36-yard touchdown bomb, evening the score at seven.
After Brees connected with Rudolph (22 yards) and Jackson (23) again for big first-quarter passing plays, Vikings kicker Blair Walsh gave the NFC a 10-7 advantage on a 48-yard field goal on the first snap of the second quarter.
Toward the end of the first quarter, center Jeff Saturday of the NFC lined up with the AFC’s offense to snap the football to Manning for the last time. Saturday and Manning were 12-year teammates with the Colts. This is their sixth and final Pro Bowl appearance together. Saturday is retiring.
“That was something special I’ll always remember,” said Saturday afterwards. “We had a great run together, man.”