Feb 2, 2024; Orlando, FL, USA; The Pro Bowl Games logo on the Camping World Stadium facade. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

NFC defeats AFC 64-59 at Pro Bowl Games

Baker Mayfield’s fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Jahmyr Gibbs turned out to be the winning play as the NFC defeated the AFC 64-59 at the Pro Bowl Games on Sunday in Orlando, Fla.

The NFC had a 12-6 lead after Thursday’s skills competitions and had just enough cushion to withstand C.J. Stroud and the AFC team in flag football to conclude the multi-day event.

After the touchdown by Gibbs, the Detroit Lions running back, both defenses combined to pull out a series of stops. Stroud’s last-ditch pass to Keenan Allen in the end zone was broken up.

Standout Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker won three points for the AFC in “Kick-Tac-Toe,” which saw him and Dallas Cowboys kicker Brandon Aubrey take turns kicking into a tic-tac-toe matrix built between goalposts.

The NFC, however, piled up points with victories in several other competitions, including a “Madden NFL” video game event, “Best Catch” and a tug-of-war.

That allowed the Eli Manning-captained NFC team to withstand the Peyton Manning-coached AFC team in flag football. The AFC outscored the NFC 50-34 in flag football, yet it fell five points short of the overall victory.

Allen, the veteran Los Angeles Chargers receiver, caught nine passes for 90 yards and three touchdowns. He also completed a touchdown pass on a trick play. Stroud of the Houston Texans, Tua Tagovailoa of the Miami Dolphins and Gardner Minshew of the Indianapolis Colts completed two touchdown passes apiece.

Seattle’s Geno Smith had two touchdowns and three interceptions. Tampa Bay’s Mayfield added two touchdowns. Amon-Ra St. Brown (Detroit) caught 10 balls for 117 yards and a touchdown, and CeeDee Lamb (Dallas) caught three touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Feb 5, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; AFC receiver Stefon Diggs of the Buffalo Bills (14) carries the ball against NFC strong safety Budda Baker of the Arizona Cardinals (3) and linebacker Demario Davis of the New Orleans Saints (56) during the Pro Bowl Games at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Tug-of-war added to Pro Bowl Games skills event

The tug-of-war will make its debut in the 2024 Pro Bowl Games skills competitions, the NFL announced.

The Pro Bowl Skills Show will take place in the Nicholson Fieldhouse at UCF in Orlando, Fla.

Teams of five players representing both the AFC and NFC will compete in a best-of-three format. This league’s intent is likely to capture the attention of the offensive linemen, who may not be as willing to participate in the flag-football competition.

The tug-of-war will join “Madden NFL” head-to-head, gridiron gauntlet and move the chains events (offensive, defensive linemen strength and speed competition) is slated for Feb. 4.

Precision passing, best catch, closest to the pin, high stakes, dodgeball and a kick-tac-toe kicking competition are scheduled for Feb. 1.

–Field Level Media

Dec 24, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens (14) warms up before the game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers’ George Pickens on Pro Bowl: ‘Feel like I got snubbed’

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens is setting the bar high for the upcoming season following a successful rookie campaign.

“Year 2 goals are Pro Bowl, and I feel like last year I feel like I got snubbed,” Pickens told College2Pro.com. “Cause there wasn’t a lot of guys in there at the Pro Bowl that excited me. Then the Super Bowl. The two bowls. A lot of RAC, run after catch. Two bowls for sure.”

Pickens, 22, recorded 52 catches for 801 yards and four touchdowns after being selected by the Steelers in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft out of Georgia.

He ranked fourth in the NFL among rookie wideouts in both receptions and receiving yards, well behind NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Garrett Wilson (83 catches, 1,103 yards) of the New York Jets. Like Pickens, Wilson also didn’t get selected to the Pro Bowl.

The AFC’s wideouts in the Pro Bowl were Tyreek Hill (Miami Dolphins), Stefon Diggs (Buffalo Bills), Davante Adams (Las Vegas Raiders) and Ja’Marr Chase (Cincinnati Bengals).

–Field Level Media

Jan 8, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Cleveland Browns defensiven end Myles Garrett (95) before playing the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Browns DE Myles Garrett dislocates toe in Pro Bowl Games

Taking tackling out of the equation did not prevent all injuries at the inaugural Pro Bowl Games.

Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett limped off the field during one of Sunday’s flag football games in Las Vegas, and the team later confirmed reports that Garrett had dislocated his toe.

X-rays on the toe came back negative, the Browns added. It was unclear how long the injury would sideline Garrett as the offseason gets under way.

The former No. 1 overall draft pick in 2017 was a Pro Bowl selection for the fourth time. In 16 games (15 starts) in the 2022 season, Garrett racked up 16 sacks (matching his career high), two forced fumbles and 60 total tackles.

–Field Level Media

Dec 18, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) and Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels celebrate after the Raiders defeated the New England Patriots 30-24 at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Derek Carr digs at Raiders, helps AFC grab lead at Pro Bowl Games

Derek Carr had a parting shot for the Las Vegas Raiders as he helped the AFC take a 9-3 lead at the inaugural Pro Bowl Games skills competition on Thursday night in Las Vegas.

The “reimagined” Pro Bowl festivities got underway in prime time with Peyton Manning and Eli Manning captaining the AFC and NFC rosters, respectively. Four events were completed Thursday, each worth three points.

In the first event, “Precision Passing,” three quarterbacks from each conference took aim at targets under a time limit, including one five-point target hanging from a moving drone.

Carr, the last quarterback to take his turn, racked up 31 points to power the AFC to a 71-55 win over the NFC.

ESPN analyst Ryan Clark asked the Raiders veteran if he had ever gotten that hot in Las Vegas before.

“Not that hot,” Carr said. “That’s probably why I’m going somewhere else.”

It was perceived as a dig at the Raiders, the only NFL team he’s ever played for, who benched him with two games left in the 2022 regular season before they had been eliminated from playoff contention. Carr wrote a goodbye letter to Raiders fans in January, with the expectation that he would be released or traded this winter.

The AFC won an event called “Lightning Round” that featured a series of three games primarily for offensive and defensive linemen.

After a water balloon toss whittled the teams down, several for each conference advanced to “High Stakes,” in which the big men tried to field as many punts as they could while holding onto each football they caught.

Two players from each side advanced to the final event: Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Trey Hendrickson (who caught four punts), Cleveland Browns guard Joel Bitonio, Dallas Cowboys center Tyler Biadasz and New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan.

Hendrickson then won the three points for the AFC in “Thrill of the Spill,” a knockoff dunk tank setup that saw Hendrickson’s lob pass hit a target to dump confetti onto Eli Manning.

Some portions of the event were pre-recorded, including a “Best Catch” contest that showed four participants create high-difficulty catches in landmarks around Las Vegas. Fans will vote on whether Stefon Diggs of the Buffalo Bills or Pat Surtain II of the Denver Broncos will represent the AFC in Sunday’s final, as well as choosing between Minnesota Vikings star Justin Jefferson and Detroit Lions receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown for the NFC finalist.

Also pre-recorded was a long-drive contest that helped the AFC take a 9-0 lead. Bills safety Jordan Poyer hit a 320-yard drive on the final swing of the event, surpassing Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson’s 316-yarder to win.

The NFC avoided being blanked for the night by beating the AFC in a dodgeball showdown.

Each conference fielded two teams of six, and the AFC defense defeated the AFC offense in one semifinal while the NFC offense beat the NFC defense in the other. In the finals, the NFC offense cruised to victory, ganging up on the AFC’s last man standing, Pittsburgh Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.

The conclusion of the event Sunday afternoon will feature a flag football competition in place of what used to be a full 11-on-11 exhibition.

–Field Level Media

Dec 18, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) gestures against the New England Patriots in the first half at Allegiant Stadium. The Raiders defeated the Patriots 30-24. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Raiders QB Derek Carr not permitted to seek trade

The Las Vegas Raiders have not granted quarterback Derek Carr permission to speak to potential trade partners, multiple outlets reported.

The Raiders have to trade or cut their all-time leading passer before Feb. 15, the date his $32.9 million base salary for 2023 and another $7.5 million for 2024 become fully guaranteed.

Carr, 31, has veto power over any trade.

The Raiders benched him for the final two games of the 2022 regular season in favor of Jarrett Stidham. Carr then left the team, with permission, to avoid being a distraction. He tweeted a farewell message to Raiders fans on Jan. 12: “Raider Nation it breaks my heart I didn’t get an opportunity to say goodbye in person.”

Carr apparently will get that chance this week at the Pro Bowl Games in Las Vegas. He announced on Tuesday that he had been named as a replacement for the showcase, his fourth Pro Bowl selection.

“Well… maybe this invitation got lost in the mail from past seasons but I’m going back to pro bowl #4,” he posted on Twitter. “See you soon Vegas!”

A trade would appear to be beneficial to both parties. The Raiders could land a draft pick or a veteran player in return for the nine-year starter, while Carr could get to hand-pick his landing spot.

So what’s the hangup? The Athletic speculated that the Raiders “might be concerned” that Carr’s agent, Tim Younger, would rather work out a free-agent deal for his client than help out with trade terms. Younger declined comment for that story.

Carr completed 60.8 percent of his passes for 3,522 yards with 24 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 15 games this season. He is the franchise’s all-time leader in passing yards (35,222) and touchdowns (217).

–Field Level Media

Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt (57) tackles Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox (88) in the fourth quarter during an NFL divisional playoff football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023, at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y.Cincinnati Bengals At Buffalo Bills Afc Divisional Jan 22 1397

Three Bills players added to Pro Bowl roster

Three additional Buffalo Bills players were added to the Pro Bowl roster Monday as replacements.

Left tackle Dion Dawkins and tight end Dawson Knox are replacing Orlando Brown and Travis Kelce of the Super Bowl-bound Kansas City Chiefs.

Left guard Rodger Saffold replaces Indianapolis Colts left guard Quenton Nelson, who is unable to participate due to an injury.

It is the second straight Pro Bowl appearance for Dawkins and Saffold and the first for Knox.

Dawkins started 15 games, Saffold started 16 in his first season with Buffalo, and Knox caught 48 passes for 517 yards and six touchdowns in 15 starts.

The reinvented Pro Bowl Games, including a flag football contest, will take place from Thursday through Sunday in Las Vegas.

–Field Level Media

Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) celebrates the win after the game against the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings OLB Danielle Hunter added to Pro Bowl roster

Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Danielle Hunter was added to the Pro Bowl roster Monday as an alternate for Super Bowl-bound Haason Reddick of the Philadelphia Eagles.

It is the third Pro Bowl appearance for Hunter (2018, 2019), who started all 17 games for the NFC North champs and registered 10.5 sacks, 65 tackles and one forced fumble.

The addition of Hunter, 28, gives the Vikings seven players participating in the Las Vegas showcase. He joins Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, T.J. Hockenson, Za’Darius Smith and Andrew DePaola.

The reinvented Pro Bowl Games, including a flag football contest, will take place from Thursday through Sunday in Las Vegas.

–Field Level Media

Oct 30, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys center Tyler Biadasz (63) and guard Connor McGovern (66) in action during the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys C Tyler Biadasz added to Pro Bowl

Dallas Cowboys center Tyler Biadasz was added to the Pro Bowl roster Monday as an alternate for Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce, who is Super Bowl-bound.

It gives the Cowboys eight players in the Las Vegas showcase. It’s the first Pro Bowl nod for Biadasz, the first Dallas center to make it since Travis Frederick earned his fifth selection in 2019. Running back Tony Pollard will miss the festivities after suffering a broken ankle, however.

Biadasz, 25, started 16 games before a high-ankle sprain forced him to miss the regular-season finale. He returned to start both playoff games.

The Pro Bowl Games, including a flag football contest, will take place from Thursday through Sunday in Las Vegas.

–Field Level Media

Jan 22, 2023; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Cincinnati Bengals tight end Mitchell Wilcox (84) collides with Buffalo Bills linebacker Matt Milano (58) after a catch in the second quarter of the NFL divisional playoff football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills during an AFC divisional round game at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Greene-USA TODAY Sports

Bills LB Matt Milano replaces T.J. Watt on Pro Bowl roster

Buffalo Bills linebacker Matt Milano has been named to the AFC roster for the upcoming Pro Bowl Games, the team announced Friday.

Milano will take the place of Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt, who pulled out due to an injury.

Milano, who is headed to his first Pro Bowl, was named as a First-Team All-Pro for the first time in his career this season. He had 99 tackles with three interceptions — including one for a touchdown — and two fumble recoveries while starting all 15 games in which he played in 2022.

Milano, 28, has totaled 458 tackles, 10.5 sacks, eight interceptions and nine fumble recoveries in 85 career games (69 starts) with the Bills.

The Pro Bowl Games will take place in Las Vegas on Feb. 5.

–Field Level Media