ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Andy Dalton completed 10 of 12 passes for 100 yards and engineered two scoring drives to help lead the AFC to a 20-13 victory over the NFC in the Pro Bowl on Sunday night.
The Cincinnati Bengals quarterback threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Travis Kelce late in the first half and then guided the offense down the field to set up Justin Tucker’s 38-yard field to put the AFC ahead 17-7 midway through the third quarter.
In an NFL all-star game that lacked spectacular play on either side, the AFC put together just enough scoring drives and then held on to preserve a win.
It marked the return to the AFC vs. NFC matchup after the NFL used a format the last three years in which teams were drafted among the Pro Bowl players by designated captains.
The NFC had a chance to tie or take the lead in the waning moments, but Kirk Cousins pass to Jimmy Graham went off the Seattle tight end’s hands and was intercepted at the AFC 2-yard line by Buffalo linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, who lateralled the ball to Denver’s Aqib Talib on the return that ended at the NFC 12 to end the threat.
This was the first time the Pro Bowl was played in Orlando, and the ending certainly didn’t disappoint the 60,834 fans who packed Camping World Stadium.
New Orleans’ Drew Brees completed 10 of 19 passes for 112 yards and one touchdown to lead the NFC. Kansas City’s Alex Smith, the starter for the AFC, completed six of eight passes for 74 yards and one touchdown.
In a first half defined by big plays and key interceptions, the AFC was able to come up with one more play to take a 14-7 lead into halftime.
The NFC should have had 17 points in the first half, but a decision to not a kick a chip-shot field goal and an interception in the end zone denied the squad of points during the first two quarters.
Dalton’s scoring strike to Kelce put the AFC ahead 14-7 with 1:40 remaining in the second quarter. The touchdown was set up by a 36-yard punt return by the Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill to the NFC 38.
Brees had a 47-yard pass to Doug Baldwin earlier in the second quarter that had tied the game at 7, making up for being intercepted by Buffalo’s Stephon Gilmore in the back of the end zone a possession earlier.
Smith put the AFC on the board first when he found Tennessee’s Delanie Walker for a 26-yard touchdown strike early in the second quarter.