By Adesina O. Koiki
ORLANDO, Fla. – If the Pro Bowl did not mean too much to the players involved, try telling that to the number of players who mobbed Delanie Walker after he hauled in the game-winning score.
The tight end of the Tennessee Titans caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr with 91 seconds remaining as the AFC completed a come-from-behind 24-23 victory over the NFC at Camping World Stadium in Orlando last Sunday.
After the score, a number of players from the AFC, including Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey and Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown and head coach Mike Tomlin, came on to the field to celebrate with Walker, who was voted the game’s offensive MVP.
“I think it makes it more exciting for the fans to put on a show like that and go down to the last minute and win the game,” said Walker, who also caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith in the third quarter.
The win for the AFC was officially sealed when Denver Broncos defensive end Von Miller sacked Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff and forced him to fumble. Miller, who won the game’s defensive MVP, also recovered the fumble.
Normally, the complaints about the Pro Bowl game stem from the lack of intensity shown by both teams in an exhibition game, but the steady rain caused even more issues with the quality of play. The AFC committed four turnovers in the game, as each AFC quarterback – Carr, Smith and Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers – threw an interception.
The NFC opened up a 20-3 halftime lead, and they opened the scoring with an 8-yard touchdown pass from New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees to Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen. In the second quarter, another Vikings player made a big play, as safety Harrison Smith intercepted Roethlisberger and returned it 79 yards for a touchdown to give the NFC a 17-3 lead.
Along with the two touchdown passes to Walker in the second half, the AFC reached the end zone on a 2-yard touchdown run by Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy late in the third quarter to cut the NFC’s lead to 20-17.
The players on the winning team, the AFC, will receiver $64,000 each, which is double the losing team’s share.