Marco Garcia / AP

Team Rice celebrates after Carolina Panthers fullback Mike Tolbert (35), of Team Rice, made a 2-point conversion during the fourth quarter at the NFL Pro Bowl football game at Aloha Stadium, Sunday. Jan. 26, 2014, in Honolulu. Team Rice won the game 22-21 over Team Sanders. (AP Photo/ Marco Garcia)


Should the NFL continue the Pro Bowl?

Leading Off: Pro Bowl succeeds with defensive effort

Published: Monday, Jan. 27, 2014 - 11:44 pm
Last Modified: Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014 - 7:47 am

Upon further review, the Pro Bowl might be worth saving after all.

It isn’t the new format – no longer conference vs. conference – that might keep the dying annual postseason exhibition game alive. Surprisingly, it was the defensive effort by Team Rice and Team Sanders that made for one of the most competitive games in years.

Team Rice’s 22-21 victory was the lowest-scoring Pro Bowl since the NFC beat the AFC 23-17 in 2006.

While the players on both rosters made it clear it’s still just an exhibition by wrapping up the opposition more often than lowering a shoulder, the effort to be more competitive was evident from the start.

The defensive pressure early in the game seemed to surprise New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees. He was sacked twice and frantically threw the ball away numerous times (there’s no intentional grounding in the Pro Bowl).

The teams combined for nine sacks with near-countless hurries, and the pressure on the quarterbacks led to a combined six interceptions.

By comparison, last year’s Pro Bowl had six sacks and four interceptions with nine more pass attempts.

So the postseason exhibition game nobody wanted to see anymore now is worth taking a look at – as long the teams keep putting in the effort.

Now about that two-day draft. Sack it.

What to watch

College basketball, N o. 11 Kentucky at LSU, 6 p.m., ESPN: Check out freshman power forward Julius Randle, who is expected to be an NBA lottery pick.

Today’s poll

Should the NFL continue the Pro Bowl?

• Yes, it’s a tradition.

• No, many of the top stars don’t play.

Vote above, or go to

Monday’s results

Which player do you want most to win the Super Bowl?

• Peyton Manning: 86%

• Richard Sherman: 14%

Total votes: 205

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Read more articles by Victor Contreras

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