In an unprecedented style of the Pro Bowl, Team Rice defeated Team Sanders 22-21 Sunday in Honolulu.
The new and exciting of the Pro Bowl featured many things that have never been seen before in the game of football. The main attraction was that the two teams were not the NFC and AFC, they were two teams that were selected by legendary football stars Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders. The captains of Team Rice were Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Rams defensive end Robert Quinn, opposed by Team Sanders captains Jamaal Charles, running back of the Kansas City Chiefs, and JJ Watt, defensive end for the Houston Texans.
In addition to the new style of selection, there were many revolutionary rule changes. The two minute warning was implemented in all quarters, not just the second and fourth, and the ball switched possession after every quarter. There were no kick-offs, and the ball was automatically placed at the 25 yard line after every scoring play and at the beginning of the game and the third quarter.
The game started off with a bang as Andrew Luck threw a flea-flicker from Jamaal Charles to Desean Jackson in the end zone for the 36-yard Team Sanders touchdown. Drew Brees connected with his teammate Jimmy Graham for Team Rice, and then Cam Newton ran it into the end zone to give Team Sanders the 14-7 edge. However, Phillip Rivers threw a touchdown to Josh Gordon, and the score was tied at halftime.
In a low scoring second half, Team Sanders held their 21-14 lead into the final seconds. That changed when Alex Smith threw a touchdown pass to DeMarco Murray for a touchdown. Then, a gutsy two point conversion attempt was successful, and Team Rice won 22-21.
All in all, the league was very pleased with the result of the game, as the changes made were in an effort to get people into the event. The ratings and publicity have been poor in years past, but things are looking up. “It was real football,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. “It was something that I give a lot of credit to the players.”
The players also seemed to like the new system. Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson tweeted after the game about a hit he put on his teammate Jamaal Charles. “Have to give my fellow teammate some friendly fire. LOL! I can’t lie, it felt pretty good!” said Johnson. Friendly banter like this made the game more exciting and wouldn’t have been possible with the old system.
The new system may be one of the few things the NFL has done right in recent history, and fans can be cautiously optimistic for the future of the Pro Bowl.