The NFL returned back to the NFC versus AFC format to try and add some legitimacy to their all-star game which has come under fire as nothing more than a flag football backyard game. With an average of 71 combined points scored over the previous two games, it was hard to argue that opinion.
And while it was far from the intensity of an NFL playoff game, or even regular season game (think more like the last preseason game) it was a more competitive affair in 2017, and one that most likely was more pleasing to the NFL as the AFC walked away with a 20-13 win over the NFC.
The Bucs were represented in Orlando all week, and in the game on Sunday, with Gerald McCoy making his fifth Pro Bowl appearance, and wide receiver Mike Evans making his debut. McCoy had four tackles and a sack in the game, but Evans did not appear on the stat sheet.
In a game that had been absent of much defense in recent history, this game started out as a defensive affair, and through 15 minutes there was no score. The AFC jumped out on top with an Alex Smith to Delanie Walker 26-yard TD pass, and the NFC then answered with a touchdown of their own when Drew Brees hooked up with Doug Baldwin for a 47-yard score. Travis Kelce and the AFC took the lead just before halftime with a 23-yard score from Andy Dalton.
The teams traded field goals in the second half, and the NFC mounted a late scoring drive that would have tied the score, but Kirk Cousin’s pass her the goal line went off Jimmy Graham’s hands and was intercepted by former Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib.
Travis Kelce was named the offensive MVP with 36 yards and a touchdown in addition to converting a fourth down fake field goal, and Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander was named the defensive MVP with eight tackles and an interception.