NFC Defeats AFC in the Pro Bowl for the Second Time in a Row
Baker Mayfield, the quarterback for the Tampa Bay Bucs, had conflicting emotions at first about playing in the Pro Bowl Games. He was still in shock from losing to the New England Patriots in the NFC playoff round two weeks ago.
“To be honest with you, I didn’t know how to feel about it until I got on the bus and saw everybody on there,” Mayfield stated. “Just seeing the faces, all the national names and all that, it really is an honor.”
And throughout the course of the next four days, Mayfield appeared to really enjoy himself, putting on a good performance in the precision throwing competition on Thursday and taking home the offensive MVP title when the NFC defeated the AFC on Sunday.
In front of 55,709 spectators at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium, Mayfield completed 9 of 13 throws for 102 yards and two scores in the flag-football game. With four seconds left, the AFC’s fourth-down play was stopped at the 3-yard line by the NFC, who won with a final score of 64-59.
All of it served as a kind of capstone for Mayfield’s comeback season, in which the former first overall pick revived his career with the Bucs after switching clubs three times in the previous two years. In addition to setting career highs in passing yards (4,044) and touchdown passes (28), Mayfield guided Tampa Bay to an unexpected NFC South championship.
Mayfield remarked, “A lot of guys made plays today.” “It was honestly so much fun. I got to watch the whole first half, stay a little loose a little bit, stay involved and take advantage of the opportunities. I’m just happy to be here.”
Now in their second year of flag-football play, the Pro Bowl Games were deemed a success once more. Similar to the previous year, the competition, which started out as a less serious affair, became more intense as the day went on, encompassing both flag football and skills competitions. Every event results in the accumulation of points that are added up to a final score.
“It’s a flag game, but, man, there are a lot of competitors out there,” said defensive MVP Demario Davis of the New Orleans Saints.
While some have made fun of the flag format, it can be argued that because playing flag football significantly lowers the risk of injury as compared to the tackle-football version that was used until 2022, the competition has been more competitive.
Anyone who doubted the significance of victory ought to have listened to Davis describe how his team’s defensive improvements slowed the AFC’s potent passing assault.
“We had to make a crucial switch,” he stated.
When asked if he was serious, Davis made his intentions quite apparent. It took real strategy to take on the AFC’s head coach, quarterback Peyton Manning, a Hall of Famer, and defensive coordinator, Ray Lewis, another all-time great, Davis added.
“We’re going against Peyton, man,” he replied. “We’re going against Ray Lewis. And they are at the top of the universe when it comes to being competitive.”
Thanks to the efforts of rookie C.J. Stroud of the Houston Texans, who led all passers with 173 yards and two touchdowns on 18 of 22 passing, the AFC had been moving the ball successfully. Keenan Allen, a receiver with the Los Angeles Chargers, grabbed three touchdowns for the AFC and also passed for a fourth.
But to ensure the win, Chicago Bears CB Jaylon Johnson stopped Stroud’s fourth-down pass to Allen.
The NFC players broke into a frenzy of joy when the final pass went incomplete, with $88,000 going to each member of the victorious side (the losers take home $44,000 each). Players continue to appreciate the revamped version of an event that the NFL originally thought about scrapping due to insufficient effort.
David Njoku, a tight end for the Cleveland Browns, recalled, “at first, it was all laughter and games.” “But when it got real, it got really real. And it stayed real until the end.”