Marshall’s 4 Catches Lift AFC To Pro Bowl Win
HONOLULU (AP) – Brandon Marshall isn’t taking time in the islands to relish his record-breaking Pro Bowl performance. He’s ready to get back to work.
The Miami Dolphins wide receiver caught six passes for 176 yards and a Pro Bowl-record four touchdowns, and the AFC used a second-half surge to beat the NFC 59-41 Sunday.
Marshall, who had a game filled with highlight-reel grabs, was selected the game’s MVP, and his name now will join the likes of Walter Payton and Jerry Rice on the banners at Aloha Stadium.
“You know what? I wanted it,” he said. “It’s a Pro Bowl. Some guys are playing 100 (percent), some guys are playing 90, some guys aren’t playing at all, but it means a lot to be up in the rafters with some of these guys.”
Marshall hopes some of the Pro Bowl magic will carry over to next season, where the Dolphins will be under new coach Joe Philbin, Green Bay’s offensive coordinator for the past five years.
“Hopefully down in Miami we can get some things turned around,” Marshall said. “We have some special things to do, and we will do some special things down in South Beach.”
Marshall had changed his flight to leave Honolulu on Sunday night, so he could meet Philbin on Monday. “I know he’s going to do a great job,” he said.
The 59 points by the AFC set a Pro Bowl mark, and the 100 points scored by the teams combined was the second highest, a touchdown shy of the 107 scored in 2004.
While everyone was playing at half-speed and ready to extend their Hawaiian vacations, Marshall played with urgency.
“You never know when you’re going to be back,” Marshall said, “and I wanted to go all out today because it could be my last Pro Bowl.”
He hauled in a deflected, go-ahead 47-yard TD pass from Andy Dalton, while on his back, to give the AFC a 38-35 lead late in the third quarter. It was Marshall’s third TD catch of the game, tying Jimmy Smith’s Pro Bowl record set in 2004.
“It was the most unathletic highlight I ever had,” he said. “Andy put it up there for me to make a play. I saw the ball, got nervous, fell, saw the ball, kicked it up and it just fell in my hands.”
Marshall, making his third Pro Bowl appearance, then nabbed a 3-yard TD pass from Dalton that gave the AFC a 52-35 lead with 8:25 left.
Hawaii has been kind to Marshall, who also won MVP honors at Aloha Stadium in his final game at Central Florida in the 2005 Hawaii Bowl, where he caught 11 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns.
Marshall noted he had six TDs this season, but four this game.
“It says a lot when you’re playing with these type of quarterbacks,” Marshall said. “They just put it in the right place and I just made the play. Hats off to those guys throwing me the ball.”
The game featured rookie quarterbacks Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers and Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals, who replaced Super Bowl quarterbacks Eli Manning and Tom Brady and played the entire second half. Their selection made this Pro Bowl the first to feature two rookie signal callers.
While Dalton looked composed, Newton played horribly — struggling to move the ball, stay in the pocket and find his targets, which drew some boos from the sun-splashed, sellout crowd of 48,423.
“No excuses,” Newton said. “When you hang the ball up there, against these kind of players, that’s what you get,” Newton said. “It’s the good and the bad of playing in a Pro Bowl. I learned a lot.”
Newton finished 9 of 27 for 186 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Eric Weddle picked off Newton twice. Dalton, meanwhile, was 7 of 9 for 99 yards and two TDs.
For the NFC, Aaron Rodgers was 13 of 17 for 141 yards and two TDs. But he was watching late in the game as Newton struggled.
“It’s tough to be the last guy in, when it’s the fourth quarter and money becomes an issue,” he said. “Guys are playing a little bit harder. They come at you.”
The NFC had three players with 100-yard yard receiving: Tony Gonzalez (seven for 114), Larry Fitzgerald (6 for 111) and Steve Smith (5 for 118).
Rodgers and Fitzgerald connected for a pair of scores on back-to-back plays to put the NFC up 14-0 early in the game.
After stopping the AFC on fourth down at midfield, Rodgers drove the NFC down the field and threw a 10-yard TD toss to Fitzgerald. Six seconds later, Rodgers aired a 44-yard rainbow in the end zone to Fitzgerald for another score after the NFC got the ball back with a surprise onside kick.
The reception was Fitzgerald’s sixth career TD catch in the Pro Bowl, tying Gonzalez’s record. He would break the record with the game’s last touchdown, on a 36-yard pass from Newton.
The AFC came right back and tied it up on two deep TD passes on the right side by Ben Roethlisberger. He threw a 34-yarder to rookie A.J. Green, and then connected with Marshall on a 74-yarder.
Each AFC player earned a record $50,000 for the win, while the NFC players received $25,000.
While the players hope to return to Hawaii next year, it’s still unknown where the 2013 Pro Bowl will be played. Sunday’s game marked the final one under contract between the NFL and Hawaii.
“As someone who played in the Pro Bowl when it was in a different city, I can tell you that it’s not a real comparison,” Rodgers said.
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