The AFC registered seven sacks and intercepted three passes under a steady downpour Sunday while continuing its dominance over the NFC with a 26-7 win at the annual NFL Pro Bowl.
New York Jets cornerback Jamal Adams was named the game’s defensive most valuable player at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium after finishing with a sack and an interception.
Adams made headlines this week when he delivered a hard tackle on the New England Patriots mascot at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
“At the end of the day we’re just coming out here to have fun,” Adams said. “It’s a lot of fun to be on top.”
Miami’s Xavien Howard and Denver’s Chris Harris Jr. also intercepted passes for the AFC.
Despite lobbying for Kansas City teammate Anthony Sherman to be named offensive MVP, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes took home the honor in his first Pro Bowl appearance.
Mahomes, who went 7-of-14 passing for a game-high 156 yards, connected with Indianapolis Colts tight end Eric Ebron for an 18-yard touchdown to cap the opening drive of the game.
“I voted for Sherm. I told them on camera,” Mahomes said passionately upon entering the locker room. “He made some great plays out there. For a fullback that can play the tight end position and still run the ball, those are special types of players.”
Mahomes was involved in the longest play from scrimmage, which came on a 50-yard pass to Los Angeles Chargers receiver Keenan Allen over the middle of the field with under two minutes to play in the first quarter.
Allen led the AFC with four catches for 95 yards. He and Pittsburgh Steelers wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster each left the game with what was reported as knee contusions.
Sherman gave the AFC a 14-0 lead on a 1-yard plunge early in the second quarter. He wrapped up the night by rushing four times for 11 yards and catching three passes for 92 yards. A catch-and-run from Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson went for 49 yards late in the fourth quarter.
“It’s always fun to come out here and compete against the best and come out with a win,” Sherman said. “Once it starts getting to crunch time, the juices start going a little bit and everybody starts getting more into it.”
Among the most unusual moments during the Pro Bowl, aside from the weather, was the sight of offensive players on defense and defensive players on offense for both teams.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans intercepted a Watson pass while lined up at cornerback with nearly six minutes to play. He then pitched the ball to New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley during what turned into an entertaining return. Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott also played defensive end.
Evans’ interception came after the NFC made it a 20-7 game when Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott found Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper over the middle for a 20-yard score.
Howard’s interception of Prescott two minutes later ended any chance of an NFC rally.
Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell and Chargers safety Derwin James were among AFC players who finished with sacks. Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey, a former teammate of James at Florida State, caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Watson with 19 seconds left.
The game kicked off with the temperature hovering at 55 degrees. Persistent winds and rain forced the majority of the crowd to head for the exits by halftime. The NFL would not provide an announced attendance figure.
Sunday’s game marked the third consecutive year the Pro Bowl was played in Orlando. The league has not announced a location for next year’s game.
The AFC won 20-13 in 2017 in the NFL’s return to the AFC-NFC format after combining players from each conference from 2014-16. That game drew an announced crowd of 60,834, the fifth-largest turnout for the Pro Bowl since 1970.