In a Pro Bowl that was completely dominated by the NFC in a 62-35 blowout over the AFC, the Buccaneers were active all game and contributed to one-third of the NFC's points with three touchdowns coming from Tampa Bay players. The Bucs representatives in Hawaii this year included defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, wide receiver Vincent Jackson, and running back Doug Martin.
Jackson was Tampa Bay’s MVP for the night in his first Pro Bowl appearance with the team, hauling in six receptions for 91 yards and two touchdowns. Jackson’s first touchdown came when he beat Texans cornerback Jonathan Joseph on a double move, making it easy for Saints quarterback Drew Brees to lay the ball in his hands for the 36-yard touchdown. His second touchdown reception was a pass from Seahawks QB Russell Wilson on a fade route to the corner of the end zone.
Jackson could have had a much bigger night had Giants quarterback Eli Manning not underthrown him on a deep pass with Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie beaten on the play. Regardless, Jackson showed the nation what he’s been doing all year - beating receivers deep down the field, while making tough catches between the hash marks. Jackson was one of the biggest stars in Hawaii this year and it's safe to say he represented his team well in his third career Pro Bowl.
While Jackson played for most of the game, Martin was mainly just in for the third quarter but was able to take advantage of his minimal playing time. Martin’s lone touchdown came when Wilson escaped the arms of Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and threw a pass towards the end zone. Russell was actually throwing to Vikings tight end and Pro Bowl MVP Kyle Rudolph but Martin snagged the ball out of the air and scored easily.
McCoy was the only Buccaneer to make the team as a starter and not to be later added onto the roster as an alternate. McCoy may have had a quieter game than his teammates, but he did have one tackle for loss and a key fumble recovery that set up the NFC offense with a short field. The defensive line typically doesn’t put in much effort into getting to the quarterback for player safety reasons, which is why Bucs fans may not have heard McCoy's name that often.
The Pro Bowl has admittedly been a joke for the past few years now with subpar effort levels from players and coaches, but Commissioner Rodger Goodell’s threat of eliminating the game was enough to infuse some life into the players and made for a more entertaining game than years past, especially for Bucs fans.
This is the first of what could possibly be many Pro Bowls for rookie running back Doug Martin and third-year defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Jackson has become a regular at the Pro Bowl and will look to have more as a Buccaneer in years to come. Their performances made the 2013 Pro Bowl a much more enjoyable and prideful event for Bucs fans across the country this year.