PRO BOWL: FOURTH QUARTER
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Neil Rackers kicked one of his two fourth-quarter field goals that sealed the NFC's victory over the AFC yesterday at Aloha Stadium.
AFC’s turnovers give the NFC room to run
The final period started promisingly enough for the AFC, as Trent Green capped a 10-play drive with a quarterback sneak to tie the game at 17 with just under 13 minutes remaining.
But the offense would run only four more plays over the next 11:37, fumbling the ball away twice, and two field goals by Neil Rackers were enough for the NFC to seal the victory.
After Green dove in for the AFC's final score of the game, the NFC saddled up its running game for a time-consuming drive for the go-ahead score. Taking possession with 12:40 left, the NFC moved downfield in bite-sized pieces.
Tiki Barber carried the ball on four straight plays covering 23 yards. On third and 16 at the AFC 18, Matt Hasselbeck flipped a short pass to Warrick Dunn, who scooted to the 4 before being stopped just short of the first-down marker. NFC coach John Fox sent Rackers onto the field to a chorus of boos from the sellout crowd and the Arizona kicker booted the go-ahead 22-yarder with 6:29 left.
Steve McNair, a late addition to the AFC roster, might have wished he had stayed in Tennessee after fumbling the ball away on the team's next two possessions.
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Indianapolis Colts safety Bob Sanders, of the AFC, brought down Seattle Seahawks fullback Mack Strong, of the NFC.
After a 54-yard kickoff return by Jerome Mathis, McNair fumbled the snap on his first play of the game and Shaun Rogers recovered for the NFC.
The AFC defense forced a punt, but McNair lost the ball while being tackled three plays later and Jeremiah Trotter pounced on it at the AFC 18 with 3:42 left.
Michael Vick's elusiveness helped sustain the NFC's ensuing drive, scrambling to his left to convert on third and 17. A 6-yard run by Warrick Dunn moved the ball to the AFC's 2. But the AFC defense kept its hopes alive by stuffing Mack Strong and Dunn short of the goal line to force Rackers' second field goal of the quarter.
The AFC's last-gasp drive reached the NFC 49, but McNair, under heavy pressure, was sacked by Michael Strahan on the game's final play.
AFC STANDOUT: Jacksonville defensive tackle Marcus Stroud helped keep the NFC out of the end zone with a sack of Matt Hasselbeck early in the quarter. He later teamed with Derrick Burgess to drop Michael Vick for an 8-yard loss.
NFC STANDOUT: Detroit defensive tackle Shaun Rogers plugged the middle of the line, twice stuffing Larry Johnson for no gain and recovering a fumble midway through the quarter.
STAT CHAT: The NFC controlled the ball and the clock to seal the win, maintaining possession for more than 10 1/2 minutes. Running backs Tiki Barber rushed for 24 yards on six carries, and Warrick Dunn rushed for only 8, but also caught a 14-yard pass to set up the decisive field goal.
TIME OF POSSESSION: