Former TCU star Andy Dalton completed 10 of 12 passes for 100 yards and engineered two scoring drives to help lead the AFC to a 20-13 victory over the NFC in the Pro Bowl on Sunday night.
The Cincinnati Bengals’ quarterback threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Travis Kelce late in the first half and then guided the offense down the field to set up Justin Tucker’s 38-yard field to put the AFC ahead 17-7 midway through the third quarter.
The Cowboys’ offensive trio of Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Dez Bryant was held largely in check. Bryant caught five passes for 59 yards, Dak Prescott passed for 52 yards and Ezekiel Elliott ran for just 20 yards on eight carries and was stuffed on a fourth-and-goal from the 1.
In an NFL all-star game that lacked spectacular play on either side, the AFC put together just enough scoring drives and then held on to preserve a win.
It marked a 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 Jimmy Graham went off the Seattle tight end’s hands and was intercepted at the AFC 2-yard line by Buffalo linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, who lateraled the ball to Denver’s Aqib Talib on the return that ended at the NFC 12 to end the threat.
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.
New Orleans’ Drew Brees completed 10 of 19 passes for 112 yards and one touchdown to lead the NFC. Kansas City’s Alex Smith, the starter for the AFC, completed 6 of 8 passes for 74 yards and one 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 by Cowboys coach Jason Garrett to not kick a chip-shot field goal and an interception in the end zone denied the squad of more points during the first two quarters.
Dalton’s scoring strike to Kelce put the AFC ahead 14-7 with 1:40 remaining in the second quarter. The touchdown was set up by a 36-yard punt return by the Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill.
Brees had a 47-yard pass to Doug Baldwin earlier in the second quarter that had tied the game at 7, making up for being intercepted by Buffalo’s Stephon Gilmore in the back of the end zone a possession earlier.
Smith put the AFC on the board first when he found Tennessee’s Delanie Walker for a 26-yard touchdown strike early in the second quarter.
AFC—Walker 26 pass from Smith (Tucker kick), 14:52.
NFC—Baldwin 47 pass from Brees (Prater kick), 6:26.
AFC—Kelce 23 pass from Dalton (Tucker kick), 1:40.
AFC—FG Tucker 38, 7:29.
AFC—FG Tucker 31, 14:12.
NFC—Prater 42, 9:31.
NFC—Prater 46, 4:29.
Total Net Yards
Time of Possession
RUSHING—AFC, Ajayi 7-18, Murray 5-8, Juszczyk 3-8, Dalton 2-(minus 1), Rivers 2-(minus 2). NFC, Howard 5-21, Elliott 8-20, Tolbert 1-3, Collins 1-1.
PASSING—AFC, Smith 6-8-0-74, Dalton 10-12-1-100, Rivers 7-11-0-59, Colquitt 1-1-0-7. NFC, Prescott 7-13-0-52, Brees 10-19-1-112, Cousins 14-20-1-158.
RECEIVING—AFC, Hilton 5-58, Juszczyk 5-43, Ajayi 5-14, Kelce 3-36, Thomas 2-37, Walker 2-35, Hill 1-9, Sanders 1-8. NFC, Beckham 6-93, Bryant 5-59, Graham 5-29, Sproles 4-28, Baldwin 3-67, Olsen 2-26, Howard 2-12, Tolbert 2-5, Elliott 1-2, Patterson 1-1.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—None.