Schaub reigns in wet win

Texans QB earns MVP by tossing 2 TDs

Rodgers solid

February 01, 2010|By Mike Berardino | Tribune Newspapers

MIAMI GARDENS - Moving the Pro Bowl from Hawaii back to the Mainland certainly goosed attendance, but it didn't do much for defense.

In a tackling-optional shootout typical of the event, the AFC shined the brightest on Sunday night at newly renamed Sun Life Stadium.

Texans quarterback Matt Schaub threw for 189 yards and two touchdowns to spark a 41-34 win and earn MVP honors in his Pro Bowl debut.

"This is a game you watch as a kid and hope to play in at some point in your life," Schaub said.

Chris Johnson's 2-yard touchdown run put the AFC ahead to stay with 5 minutes, 59 seconds to play, and Steelers linebacker James Harrison intercepted Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo with 2:07 remaining to seal the result and knot the all-time AFC-NFC series at 20-20.

Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson led the AFC with seven catches for 122 yards and a score. Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson had two touchdown grabs in a losing cause as the teams combined for 987 yards of offense.

"Well, it's a no-defense game," said coach Wade Phillips of the Cowboys.

A crowd of 70,697, second-largest in Pro Bowl history, sat through a steady rain for much of the night. Only the 1959 game in Los Angeles (72,250) has drawn a larger crowd in NFL all-star history.

The last 30 Pro Bowls had been played in Honolulu. Not since 1979 in Los Angeles had this game been played in the Lower 48.

With a whopping 34 replacement players on the final rosters - including Schaub - the game featured 35 first-time Pro Bowl selections, 19 of them for the NFC. It would have been 20 if Vikings tackle Bryant McKinnie hadn't been kicked off the team for missing four practices last week.

The AFC jumped out to a 14-3 lead just eight minutes in on a pair of Schaub touchdown passes. The first one went for 33 yards to Andre Johnson, Schaub's Texans teammate, and the other went for 23 yards to the Broncos' Brandon Marshall.

The NFC roared back to take a 17-14 lead behind a pair touchdown strikes from the Packers' Aaron Rodgers, who finished 15 of 19 for 197 yards.

Trailing 34-31 early in the fourth quarter, the Eagles' Asante Samuel intercepted a pass from the Titans' Vince Young intended for Chad Ochocinco of the Bengals near the goal line. Samuel's 35-yard return set up a tying field goal, but Schaub re-entered the game to lead the winning touchdown drive.

This was Schaub's second strong game in this building in a span of five weeks. He passed for 286 yards and two scores in leading the Texans to a 27-20 win over the Dolphins on Dec. 27.

Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha left with a knee injury in the second quarter and did not return.

A 64-yard interception return for a touchdown by Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley was wiped out by penalty in the second quarter. Mario Williams, also of the Texans, had a game-high two sacks.

The game featured little hard tackling, but Ochocinco, the Bengals' talkative receiver, got popped twice in a span of a few third-quarter plays by Mike Jenkins of the Cowboys and former Antrel Rolle of the Cardinals.

DeSean Jackson, the first player to be picked for the Pro Bowl at two positions, tried to add a third to his growing profile.

Jackson took a pitchout from Rodgers in the first quarter and heaved it downfield to Cowboys receiver Miles Austin, but the pass sailed over his head.

Jackson atoned a few plays later when his 12-yard catch converted a fourth-and-7 to keep alive an NFC drive that ended with a 7-yard touchdown to Jackson off a bubble-screen pass from Rodgers.

Illegal Tweeting: Browns return man Cribbs had a 65-yard punt return that put the AFC in scoring territory before halftime.

Afterward, despite the NFL's ban on instant communication during games, Cribbs Tweeted: "I almost took it to the crib....Soooooo close" while inside the locker room.

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