Was this the final Pro Bowl?

654220.jpg

Was this the final Pro Bowl?

From Comcast SportsNetHONOLULU (AP) -- A handful of shenanigans and plenty of points -- yet still another ho-hum Pro Bowl.Whether the NFL's all-star game will return next season is a something the league will ponder the next few months after the NFC's 62-35 blowout of the AFC on Sunday."It's been an unbelievable week," Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson said, "And the thing was, if you watched us, everybody was competing today and it was really awesome."Wilson at least got the crowd pumped up in the second half with some nifty scrambles and three passing touchdowns. There was also Houston's sack-happy defensive end J.J. Watt going out for a couple of passes as a wide receiver, and retiring Green Bay center Jeff Saturday snapping to two Mannings on opposite teams.But while the NFC appeared unstoppable on offense, with nearly each player putting up fantasy-worthy lines in limited play, the AFC had five turnovers and scored most of its points well after the game was no longer competitive.Minnesota tight end Kyle Rudolph was voted the game's MVP with five catches for 122 yards and a touchdown."Guys were competing, guys wanted to win and guys want to keep the game here," Rudolph insisted. "That was the point before the game. We want to keep this game rolling for future Pro Bowlers."Watt, who had 20 12 sacks for Houston, lined up as a wide receiver on the AFC's third play from scrimmage, but missed a pass from Denver quarterback Peyton Manning. He was targeted one more time, but didn't make a catch.He later showed a television camera a bloody left pinkie, joking with NBC broadcasters that it was proof that the players were trying."Hey, Commish, we're playing hard," Watt said as he showed his finger.Roger Goodell has said the Pro Bowl won't be played again if play didn't improve this year. Last year, fans in Hawaii booed as lineman were clearly not trying. On one play in that game, Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen did a barrel roll to switch positions with a teammate.If players were coasting this time around, it was less obvious. The AFC just played poorly. And fans didn't boo much -- the stands were relatively empty even though the game sold enough tickets to lift a local television blackout.The game was trending on Twitter in the United States early on, but quickly gave way to the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the WWE Royal Rumble.Saturday, retiring at the end of this season, played for both teams, though he came representing the NFC. He lined up on one play for the AFC to snap the ball one last time to Manning, his longtime former Colts teammate.Saturday said it meant a lot to him that the Broncos quarterback, whom Saturday called a true friend, orchestrated the stunt."He's got a little more pull than I got," Saturday said. "He got it all set up and timed up for me, so it was really nice of him to do that."Saturday played 13 seasons in Indianapolis, all with Manning -- except 2011, when Manning was out with a neck injury. Saturday then played later in the game for the NFC, snapping to Peyton's brother, Giants quarterback Eli Manning.Saturday's last play on the field was a passing touchdown by Eli Manning.Peyton Manning said it was nice for the NFL to allow the play to happen."It's something that I'll always remember," he said, "that he'll always remember to kind of get that one, final snap together after the thousands that we've taken together."Even as the NFC piled up touchdowns, the game struggled for memorable moments after Saturday's momentary switch.In the second quarter, referee Ed Hochuli drew cheers when announcing a pass interference penalty on Denver cornerback Champ Bailey in the second quarter -- the first flag of the game."Yes, there are penalties in the Pro Bowl," Hochuli said, drawing laughs and loud cheers.Giants wideout Victor Cruz broke a Pro Bowl record with 10 catches. Tampa Bay receiver Vincent Jackson had 91 yards and two touchdowns. Eli Manning threw for 191 yards and two touchdowns.Cincinnati's A.J. Green had three TD catches for the AFC.NFL officials said earlier in the week that the league wants to decide the future of the Pro Bowl by the time next season's schedule is released in April."We understood exactly what (Goodell) wanted, guys were making plays all over the field," Cruz said. "There was a little bit more high intensity than in years past and we were excited to play."

Brady on Thomas criticism: 'I love Earl . . . Wish him the best'

Brady on Thomas criticism: 'I love Earl . . . Wish him the best'

Tom Brady was getting hit from all sorts of different angles on Saturday night. Not only was he dealing with Texans pass-rushers Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney, he was also catching social-media shrapnel from Earl Thomas and Ray Lewis. 

Thomas was adamant that Brady had an easy road every year because he played in the AFC East. Lewis, meanwhile, got on Brady for complaining to officials when he thought they should have called a penalty for roughing the passer. 

On Monday, joining WEEI's Kirk and Callahan program, Brady responded to both. 

"I don't think I've ever been one to, you know, say something negative about anybody," Brady said of Thomas, who missed the end of the season with a broken leg. "It's just not my personality. I love Earl. I think he's a hell of a player. I really wish him the best in his recovery."

When it came to Lewis' critique, Brady acknowledged he complained to the officials. And he noted that it might've worked. Soon after he threw a fit when a flag wasn't thrown, the Patriots did pick up 15 extra yards when Clowney was tagged with a roughing-the-passer call.

"We had a lot of battles with Ray on the field," Brady said. "And yeah, I would love to try to make sure the officials are paying close attention. If we can get one of those 15-yard penalties, those are important."

Brady on Brown Facebook video: Wouldn't go over well with Belichick

Brady on Brown Facebook video: Wouldn't go over well with Belichick

We know how Bill Belichick feels about social media. For years now he's been openly mocking the names of different platforms. 

RELATED

How then would Belichick feel about one of his players streaming his postgame speech live to an online audience of thousands? Probably not great. 

"That's against our team policy," Tom Brady told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show on Monday morning. "I don't think that would go over well with our coach."

Brady was referencing the video posted to Facebook Live by Steelers wideout Antonio Brown late Sunday night. With over 20,000 fans watching, Brown streamed the postgame locker room prayer as well as Tomlin's speech. 

Tomlin called the Patriots a-holes, and he made note of the fact that because the Steelers-Chiefs game had been pushed to Sunday night the Patriots had a day-and-a-half more to rest and prepare than the Steelers did. Then when he spotted a player on his phone, Tomlin told his players to get off social media -- all while Brown continued to stream from behind a bank of lockers. 

"Every coach has a different style," said Brady, who recently began using an Instagram account. "Our coach, he's been in the league for 42 years and he's pretty old school. He's not into social media, and I think he lets everyone know that. I think our team has a policy. We don't show anything that should be private because he feels when we are inside our stadium, inside the walls, there has to be a degree of privacy that we have. What's done in the locker room should stay in the locker room."