Mike Tolbert’s two-point conversion run up the middle with 41 seconds remaining gave Team Jerry Rice a 22-21 victory over Team Deion Sanders in Sunday’s NFL Pro Bowl.
The annual gridiron all-star clash in Honolulu’s Aloha Stadium didn’t include players from next Sunday’s Super Bowl clubs, Denver and Seattle, but did have new rules aimed at spicing up a game that critics said had grown stale.
Each team’s three star quarterbacks produced a touchdown, with Carolina rusher Tolbert’s run providing the final margin of victory after San Francisco’s Alex Smith flipped a 20-yard touchdown pass to Dallas’s DeMarco Murray.
“Being able to get into the end zone to score the winning 2-point conversion, I couldn’t have made my day any better,” Tolbert said.
In past years, rosters were divided into teams from the American and National Conferences. But this year, NFL retired legends Sanders and Rice were named captains and drafted players as children might in a schoolyard pickup game.
Smith, who had the game’s best passing figures by completing 9-of-22 throws for 117 yards, passed off the credit for the deciding points to Tolbert and Murray.
“Those guys made some nice plays,” Smith said. “DeMarco made the play down there and Mike was running so hard all day and made the play to win it.”
The game was level at 14-14 at half-time with Team Sanders scoring on Andrew Luck’s 36-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson and Cam Newton’s 1-yard scoring run.
Team Rice responded with a Drew Brees 8-yard touchdown toss to Jimmy Graham and Josh Gordon’s 10-yard touchdown pass from Philip Rivers.
Team Sanders had taken a 21-14 lead with 4:41 to play on a 12-yard Nick Foles touchdown pass to Jordan Cameron, setting the stage for Team Rice’s final scoring plays.