A year ago, the Pro Bowl further perpetuated the notion that it was nothing more than a poorly constructed All-Star showcase in which fans could expect minimum effort from the NFL's premier players. Although the television ratings remained impressive, commissioner Roger Goodell seriously considered eliminating the Pro Bowl due to the pathetic product that the 2012 game produced. However, this year, the increased effort actually made for a relatively entertaining contest.
The NFC demolished the AFC 62-35 in a game that was chock full of big plays from star players. New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning led the NFC in passing with 191 yards through the air, along with two touchdowns. Manning's first touchdown pass was to none other than Victor Cruz, who did his signature salsa routine in the end zone after scoring. Manning also threw a pick-six in the second quarter as well.
After the game, Cruz, who set a Pro Bowl record with 10 receptions, said that each team gave a sincere effort out on the field.
"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."
Perhaps the most comical moment in the game came at the end of the fourth quarter, as Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul lined up as a cornerback opposite of Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, who was split out wide as a receiver. Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck threw a jump ball into the back corner of the end zone, and Pierre-Paul came down with an interception that effectively ended the game.
All in all, the Pro Bowl is still a meaningless exhibition. For the players, it's a free trip for them and their families out to Hawaii. However, the game that every respectable NFL players wants to play in is occurring next weekend in New Orleans. Although it was entertaining to watch some the world's best athletes let loose and throw the ball around for 60 minutes, this game was a painful reminder to Giants fans that their team came up short in 2012.
A year ago, this team was preparing to win their second championship in five seasons. Now, we are talking about their performances in the Pro Bowl. It's been a hard fall back to earth for Big Blue, and the front office has a lot of work to do to help ensure that expectations are met in 2013.
Also…Andrew Luck, Eli Manning, Football, Houston Texans, Indianapolis, Indianapolis Colts, Jason Pierre-Paul, New York, New York Giants, NFC, NFL, Roger Goodell, Victor Cruz