Justin Herbert threw two touchdown passes and Mac Jones tossed another as the American Conference (AFC) defeated the National Conference (NFC) 41-35 in Sunday’s NFL Pro Bowl all-star game.
It was the AFC’s fifth consecutive victory over the NFC, the longest run by either side in the rivalry.
The contest did not feature players from the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals, who will meet for the NFL crown in February 13’s Super Bowl at Los Angeles.
Herbert, a second-year standout for the Los Angeles Chargers in his first Pro Bowl, was named the Offensive Most Valuable Player. He completed 7-of-11 passes for 98 yards on a day when there were seven interceptions, at least one from each quarterback.
“It’s an awesome opportunity to come out here and line up with the greatest players in the game,” Herbert said.
AFC defensive end Maxx Crossy of the host Las Vegas Raiders was named the Defensive MVP with five tackles, two sacks and three deflected passes.
“I’ve been working,” Crosby said. “I had to come out here and put on a show for the fans.”
The game had some experimental rules, including no kickoffs, to increase scoring chances. A team that scored could try and keep possession by converting a fourth down and 15 play from its own 25-yard line. Teams making the attempt went 0-for-8.
There was a relaxed attitude about hard hits and tackles with few kicks of any type attempted.
AFC defender Darius Leonard returned an interception 45 yards to open the scoring while NFC defender Antoine Winfield returned an interception 63 yards for a touchdown on the final play of the first quarter to pull the NFC within 14-13.
AFC lineman Myles Garrett picked off a deflected pass attempt that was ruled a fumble and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the second quarter.
Herbert threw touchdown passes of 7 and 15 yards to Mark Andrews in the first half to give the AFC a 28-21 halftime lead while Jones tossed a 6-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow in the third quarter.
AFC receiver Stefon Diggs ran four yards for a touchdown, evading his brother Trevon, an NFC defender, to reach the end zone as the AFC took a 41-21 lead after three quarters.
Kyler Murray, who hit Mike Evans on a 19-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, connected on a 5-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Pitts to lift the NFC within 41-28 with 10:18 to go.
Murray flipped a 5-yard touchdown pass to Dalvin Cook with 2:36 remaining as the NFC pulled within 41-35, but the AFC ran out the clock for the triumph.