- We've got Dan Hicks, Doug Floutie, and Mike Mayock on the call.
- Hicks: "This is the ultimate playground game in the NFL"
- Is Cam Newton involved with this? I hope so.
- Oh, he is. Andy Dalton, too. First time ever we have two rookie QBs in the game.
- Ray Lewis with an extremely cordial pre-game interview. Say what you want about the guy (announcer speak!), but after a loss, he shows about as much class as anyone.
- Hot Chelle Rae doing the pre-game song. Does anyone know who this is? One of the lyrics in their song was "Lost my iPhone..."
Football. Chest tattoos.
- Another lyric: "My girlfriend went and cheated on me."
- Oh man! This is the guy that does that really crappy pop song "Tonight Tonight". The hook is so bad, I can't help but be happy when I hear it.
Is there a football game happening?
- Man, that Bulls loss sucked today.
- Pre-game intro is taking forever; I'm going to Subway.
- Back. Blame the Bulls loss, me staying up till 9 a.m. to finish the Djok-Nadal Australian Open final live, or maybe the fact I'm so geeked the Pats are in the Super Bowl next week, but I'm really not feeling the Pro Bowl as much as usual. Time to bump some Limp Bizkit "Rollin'" to get in the mood. (Sorry, just feels right.)
- Let's get it.
- Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak is coaching the AFC while Green Bay's Mike McCarthy is manning the NFC sideline.
- Marshall Yanda (from the Ravens) is an AFC starter on the O-line. I used to sit next to him in a class at Iowa. Our life arcs really went their separate ways after that.
- Chicago's own Charles Tillman is a Pro Bowl starter for the defense. He tries to tackle Mike Wallace after an early catch, but Wallace falls to the ground before he can make contact. So Charles helps him up.
- The NBC crew announces Roethlisberger is mic'd up. That better pay off. Meanwhile, the AFC fails to convert around midfield on fourth down.
- Aaron Rodgers completes his first pass to Steve Smith, who announced himself as "Lil Playmaker" during the pre-game intros. Another player said his college was a culinary school.
- Rodgers hands off to LeSean McCoy, and the effort on the play is so minimal -- I swear, you'd have to see it to believe it -- the crowd starts booing.
NBC commenter says something like, "I know this is an exhibition, but you have to try more than that; people came to see you play." Scrutiny!
- A-Rod incomplete to Greg Jennings, and the crowd boos a little more.
"The fans know they are not seeing anywhere near full effort."
- A-Rod to Fitz for a short TD, and the NFC draws first blood. "Walking On Sunshine" will take us to the commercial break.
AFC: 0, NFC: 7
- The NFC with a surprise onside kick, recovered by Charles Tillman. Who says they're not trying?!?!?!?!?!!!!!
- After all this hype about how the players can now in-game tweet, there has literally been no mention of it thus far.
- A-Rod connects on a long TD to Fitz on a play where Darrelle Revis' effort could only be described as "point shaving."
AFC: 0, NFC: 14
- I wonder if the players would consider illegally betting on this game? We know Vegas has a line for it. Would that be one of the oddest sports "scandals" ever?
- NBC commentator: "Mike McCarthy said 'my main goal in this game is to count eleven guys.'"
We might need more effort than that, coach.
- With the TD, Fitz ties Tony Gonzalez for the most touchdowns caught in Pro Bowl history. The record is six.
- Roethlisberger incomplete downfield to Antonio Gates, who I swear is fat now. The only counter is maybe he just has bigger mid-section pads.
- Julius Peppers keeps rushing A-Rod, getting really close, then stopping almost as if he's scared before he can make contact. I'm not sure I've ever seen so little effort from this game before.
- Roethlisberger picked off by Clay Matthews, who laterals it to Tillman, who laterals it to Peppers -- who laterals/fumbles it, and it's recovered by Vincent Jackson from the AFC.
- Roethlisberger throws a bit of a duck...complete to Gates down the right side of the field. Gates got the start over Rob Gronkowski, who is at the Super Bowl in Indianapolis.
AFC: 7, NFC: 14
- McCoy fumbles (caused by Von Miller, recovered by Bailey) to give the AFC the ball back.
- Roethlisberger still in the game. He completes a deep route to Brandon Marshall, who picks up about 20 yards after the catch for the game-tying touchdown.
AFC: 14, NFC: 14
- Drew Brees looks primed to enter the game, but A-Rod comes out to lead the huddle.
- A-Rod has a tipped pass he then catches, the NFC takes a loss of about 15 yards on the play, but the announcers are fired up by his effort as the NFC punts.
- Phillip Rivers comes in at QB for the AFC.
- It's the end of the first quarter, and Weezer's "Island In The Sun" -- a Pro Bowl staple -- takes us to commercial.
- Rivers picked off in the end zone by Patrick Peterson, who has now extracted revenge for getting tackled on the kickoff return. Brees enters the game at QB for the NFC. Matt Forte also takes the field at RB and immediately catches a short pass. The announcers discuss the risk of him playing in the game (because he's trying to earn a new contract). One suggests maybe he's playing in the game to show us he is, in fact, healthy.
- Roethlisberger, now on the sideline for the rest of the game, says the AFC's plan is to give Rivers the second and third quarter with Andy Dalton getting the fourth. Ben says he has faith in the rookie to close out.
- The announcers say Von Miller caught a marlin while fishing on Tuesday on a deep sea expedition.
- Brian Dawkins (38) is the oldest player to start in a Pro Bowl, the announcers say. Kinda cool. Good on him.
- Drew Brees to Jimmy Graham for an NFC touchdown.
AFC: 14, NFC: 21
- Randy Moss (not that Randy Moss) interviews Jimmy Graham, who looks extremely happy to be there.
- NBC shows some Jimmy Graham basketball clips from college. Highlights: his number at Miami appears to have been "00", and in third or so clip, he makes a hook shot over Tyler Hansbrough.
- Brandon Marshall reels in a TD on an out and up from Rivers to tie the game again. Before the play, NBC said the Rivers-to-Gates connection has more QB-to-TE touchdowns than any combo in NFL history. Who knew?
- "Island In The Sun" (again) takes us to commercial. Is anybody trying anymore?
AFC: 21, NFC: 21
- Brees incomplete to Steve Smith. I want Cam in this game, and I want him now. I suppose we'll have to wait until the second half (aka forever).
- After a few mentions of the tweet station, I don't believe NBC has provided a shot of it yet. Weak.
- The NFC fakes a punt where the Niners punter completes a pass to Patrick Peterson. Good stuff.
- Brees and Graham have been doing their thing a bit.
- Again. "Go with whatcha know," Mayock says.
- Brees to Jennings for an NFC TD.
AFC: 21, NFC: 28
- I love, because the huddles are mic'd up, how the football guys in the booth can hear the pre-play call and immediately know what the play is going to be. You've gotta feel like the man when you can do that and the play-by-play guy can't. Football insiders.
- After a questionable spot, the AFC converts on fourth down. Another added benefit to the Pro Bowl? No replay review.
- NBC, getting their Super Bowl hype on, shows the David Tyree play. I'd say I'm numb to it, but I'm probably still the opposite of that. They even showed it from the back angle, where you can see Eli escape all of the pressure, pre-throw. Man, I haven't seen that part of the play maybe since the day it happened. Trauma. Trauma.
- Still no flags thrown in this game.
- Charles Tillman bats away a pass intended for Mike Wallace in the end zone.
- Rivers finds Gates with two seconds left in the half for another game-tying TD. Gates walks into the end zone with two full seconds left on the clock, but whoever is handling the scoreboard runs it down to zero anyway. Because this is the Pro Bowl.
AFC: 28, NFC: 28
- Bob Costas interviews Brady (direct) and Eli (via satellite). This is mostly skipped.
- Killa Cam has entered the game. Here we goooooooooooo.
- Cam throws it to no one on the first play as the ball hits the turf, and maybe I need to bump down my expectations for this.
- Cam completes his first pass to teammate Steve Smith.
- Cam to Smith again, who YACs it up after the play and brings the NFC into AFC territory.
- The next play, Cam's picked off by Eric Weddle on an overthrown pass intended for Tony Gonzalez. Weddle takes it all the way back to the NFC 20-yard-line.
- Enter: Andy Dalton.
- Three and out for The Red Rifle, but Janikowski gives the AFC its first lead of the game.
AFC: 31, NFC: 28
- Cam back in, and the announcers say he and A-Rod raided the equipment bag to pick out a football "more to his liking." ... Prepared for awesome.
- Cam throws a TD to Steve Smith on a ball that had to have flown at least 50 yards through the air. Great stuff. MVP of the play? The new ball.
AFC: 31, NFC: 35
- The NFC attempts another onside kick -- and they recover! Three for three on the trick plays.
- Newton runs for a first down, but, instead of sliding, he just falls backwards on his butt. Kanye's "Power" plays over the stadium P.A. in the background, and I can't help but feel we're entering a groove.
- Newton completes a good pass to Gonzalez as "We Will Rock You" takes over the stadium. We have lost the groove.
- ...and proving that even further, Cam is then picked off by Jonathan Joseph of the Texans.
- The Red Rifle is now in position to take this game back.
- TRR completes it to teammate A.J. Green, who fumbles the ball on the goal line trying to extend for the TD. The NFC recovers.
- Cam takes over at the 20.
- Newton hands off to Marshawn Lynch who fumbles, recovers, then pass-laterals it to Newton, who catches the ball, smiles wide, runs a few steps, then falls down. Second-and-18 for the NFC.
- Newton incomplete after some pressure, and the crowd boos.
"Do we dare say we almost had a sack in the Pro Bowl?"
- Cam incomplete on 3rd-and-18, and the AFC will get the ball back. Cam receives a little shoulder from Richard Seymour on the play.
- The Red Rifle, with another chance to take lead, begins the drive just inside midfield. He throws into double coverage by the goal line when the ball is tipped backwards to Brandon Marshall (Corey Graham on the coverage), who catches the pass on his back just inside the end zone. Probably the highlight of the game so far. AFC back on top.
AFC: 38, NFC: 35
- Flutie launches into the classic "there's an extra $25 grand at stake for the winning team, it's about to pick up in this fourth quarter" speech.
- Mayock: "When you scratch a competitor a little bit, all of a sudden, watch out."
- Cam takes the field again, jersey untucked. Shit's gettin' real!
- Alex Flanagan reports AFC head coach Gary Kubiak's "one second half goal" was to get Janikowski an attempt to break the Pro Bowl field goal distance record. Good to see his priorities are together.
- Cam gets brought to the ground on a scramble, and we even see the shoulder pad pop out of the top of the jersey. Real football? One play later, the NFC punts.
- Antonio Brown returns the punt into NFC territory.
- Randy Moss (not that Randy Moss) interviews Drew Brees. Moss brings up how Drew Brees dislocated his left elbow in the game a few years ago. I barely recollect that. But it's true.
- The AFC keeps the ball on the ground for a few plays, and I feel like we've maybe entered a "pre-season second half"-type level of play on the field.
- Ravens fullback Vonta Leach punches it in, and the AFC opens up a double digit lead. We've got 11:40 left in the game.
AFC: 45, NFC: 35
- The NFC offense continues to sputter with Newton at the helm. Seriously, who knew?
- Newton throws across his body, incomplete, and the NFC will punt.
- Antonio Brown, who has been massively trying on his returns all day, takes the punt close to the NFC 30.
- Brandon Marshall with an absolutely killer catch on one of the best thrown fade routes I have ever seen by TRR. God damn. This is why I love the Pro Bowl. Marshall has six catches (176 yards) and four touchdowns. The MVP is sealed up.
AFC: 52, NFC: 35
- They show Ray Lewis during a Mic'd Up segment cheering on Antonio Brown's punt return from earlier in the game: "He housin' it! He housin' it!" Ray screams probably fifteen times. The segment ends when Rivers comes up to Lewis and says, "I ain't never seen you cheer that hard for a Steeler."
- Newton back on the field... and Von Miller brings him down for the first sack of the game.
"Von Miller housed it there," one of the NBC guys says.
- Newton incomplete to Greg Jennings, and the NFC will go for it on fourth down in its own territory.
- Newton completes it downfield to Tony Gonzalez. Eric Weddle -- probably a Top 3 candidate for the game's Trying Award -- pops him, and Tony Gonalez gets him off the ground and puts him in a choke hold. We'll have to assume it's done as a joke.
- Brandon Marshall being interviewed on the sideline: "This [game] is my playoff... I came in with the goal to get MVP."
- Newton sacked again by Von Miller on a planned QB run. The NFC offense looks like the Hanie Bears right now.
- On the next play, Newton impressively eludes some pressure before stopping on a dime, launching it downfield.... and getting inercepted by Eric Weddle (trying again!). Weddle then laterals it to KC's Derrick Johnson, who runs about 70 yards for the touchdown.
"We now have the highest scoring Pro Bowl in history."
The NFC has to think about benching Newton here, no?
AFC: 59, NFC: 35
- Newton is back! He fears no adversity!
- The NFC hands off to Marshawn Lynch, and the quit is on.
- Another hand off to Lynch, and the defense appears to be quitting all over again.
"I think we're back to game speed from the first quarter...A $25,000 concession has been made."
- Possibly threatened by Eric Weddle's interception and overall effort, Pittsburgh WR Antonio Brown comes in at safety for the NFC. He picks off a Cam Newton pass, but he is out of bounds.
- Lynch, on another run, gets hit by Ryan Clark, and Lynch demonstratively flops out of bounds. Both Clark and Lynch laugh after the play.
- Cam completes a deep TD to Larry Fitz after Antonio Brown (playing illegal press man coverage) gets burned. Brown wins the Trying Award after that stunt. I admire him.
- Drew Brees, attempting the extra point for the NFC, misses a drop kick.
"Poor drop," Flutie says.
AFC: 59, NFC: 41
- Randy Moss (not that Randy Moss) interviews Brees on the sideline about the drop kick.
"I've gotta redeem myself at some point, I don't know when that's gonna be," he says.
- A flag gets thrown after an AFC running play, but the ref says there is no foul. Phew. A U2 sounding song takes us to commercial.
- Back from commercial, the AFC is taking knees. The all-time series between the AFC and NFC is now tied. Brandon Marshall announced as the MVP.
"I already have a car, and my wife has a car, so I think I'll give it to my mom," he says. Alex Flanagan, interviewing Marshall, seems surprised Marshall has won a car in conjunction with the MVP, but Marshall points behind her, and they have rolled the car out onto the field. Proof, lady.
- Marshawn Lynch is shown on the sidelines, wearing one hat backward and one hat forward. Most impressively, he is somewhat pulling it off. Seems as good of a time to end this as any.
Bobby Loesch is a weekly contributor to SBN Chicago. He can be reached at bobbyloesch [at] gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @bobbystompy.