AFC rallies for 24-23 victory over NFC in 2018 NFL Pro Bowl
Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker caught two touchdown passes, including an 18-yard go-ahead strike from Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr with 1:31 to play, as the AFC rallied from a 20-3 halftime deficit to top the NFC 24-23 in the 2018 NFL Pro Bowl.
Walker finished with four catches for 29 yards and the two scores, earning him offensive MVP honors for the game — the second consecutive Pro Bowl to be held at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium. Overall, the AFC racked up 296 yards through the air, including 115 yards on 11-of-15 passing from Carr and 131 yards and a touchdown on 7-of-10 passing from Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith.
“It’s special,” Walker told TitansOnline.com of his MVP honor after the game. “It feels good to have all these people here who care about me, and support me. And it always feels good to represent the Titans organization. To get this done and honor the Titans, I’m very happy.”
Early on, it looked like the game could turn into a runaway, as the NFC used an 8-yard touchdown pass from New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees to Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen, the first of three field goals from Carolina Pathers kicker — and former Camping World Bowl MVP — Graham Gano and a 79-yard interception return touchdown from Vikings safety Harrison Smith to take a 17-3 lead midway through the second.
Gano’s second field goal of the afternoon pushed the NFC lead to 20-3 as time expired in the second quarter, but the AFC responded with a five-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to open the second half, then added a 2-yard touchdown run from Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy to cut the deficit to three.
A Gano 38-yarder put the NFC back up by six early in the fourth, but the AFC forced consecutive turnovers on downs on the next two NFC possessions. The latter set up the game-winning drive, which went 47 yards on seven plays in 2 minutes 13 seconds.
Said Carr, who won the Precision Passing Challenge at the Pro Bowl Skills Showdown earlier in the week: “That’s as real as it gets in football.”
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton led all players with 98 receiving yards on four catches, while Miami Dolphins wideout Jarvis Landry caught five passes for 78 yards in the win. Minnesota tight end Kyle Rudolph led the NFC with seven catches for 70 yards, and Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson added two interceptions for the NFC in the loss.
But it was Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller who took home defensive MVP honors thanks to a strip sack of L.A. Rams quarterback Jared Goff with less than a minute to play. Miller recovered his own forced fumble with 37 seconds left to seal the AFC’s second consecutive Pro Bowl victory.