Well, at least they enjoyed the tropical temperatures.
Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowskiand wide receiver Wes Welkereach took part in their first AFC-NFC Pro Bowl Sunday. Neither, however, had many chances to shine in the hot Hawaiian sun.
Three was the magic number for both players, as Gostkowski kicked three extra points and Welker caught three passes in the AFC's 30-21 loss to the NFC.
Gostkowski got the NFL's annual all-star game going the way he did so many Patriots games this past season – by sending the opening kickoff into the NFC's end zone for a touchback.
He was back on the field midway through the first quarter. AFC quarterback Peyton Manningfinished off a 96-yard drive (following an NFC punt on the opening series) by finding Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalezfor a 19-yard touchdown. Gostkowski added the extra point to give the AFC a 7-0 lead.
He then booted a 72-yard kickoff, which the NFC returned for 28 yards.
]()Welker registered his first catch of the game just before halftime. On the first play from scrimmage with AFC backup QB Kerry Collinsunder center, Collins hit Welker with an 8-yard strike down to the NFC 44-yard line.
That drive culminated five plays later with a Collins-to-Owen Daniels touchdown pass from nine yards out. With about half a minute left on the clock, Gostkowski increased the AFC's lead to 14-3 with his second point-after conversion.
Despite another kickoff that reached the goal line, the NFC return the kick to their own 45. Three plays later, with just nine seconds left in the half, playoff superstar Larry Fitzgeraldof the Cardinals hauled in a 46-yard TD from NFC QB Drew Brees.
At the start of the third quarter, the AFC received the second-half kickoff and put a short drive together with Collins back at QB. He got his team near midfield, and on third-and-two, tried to do whatMatt Casseland Tom Bradyhave had so much success doing the past couple of years. But Collins couldn't find Welker for the first down, as his pass fell incomplete.
]()Welker would have to wait until the fourth quarter to have another pass thrown his way. This time, the Broncos' Jay Cutlerconnected with Welker for a three-yard completion on a first-down play in AFC territory.
On that same drive, Cutler led the AFC 89 yards in 13 plays, the final one being a fumble-rooskie type play to Ravens RB Le'Ron McClain, who scored from five yards out. Gostkowski returned to nail the extra point.
Again, Gostkowski crushed his kickoff, but the NFC returned it past midfield. A few plays later, Fitzgerald caught his second TD of the day, this time from the Giants' Eli Manning.
On the ensuing AFC drive, Cutler once again looked to Welker, who hauled in his biggest yardage gainer of the afternoon, a 12-yard strike on second-and-10 from the AFC 33. But the drive would stall two plays later when Cutler was picked off by Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers.
Gostkowski had no field goal attempts and Welker relinquished his typical punt return duties to the Jets' Leon Washington.
PLAY OF THE GAME
]()Despite the fumble-rooskie touchdown and Fitzgerald's game MVP performance, the play of the game may have come at the expense of the latter's Cardinals teammate, wide receiver Anquan Boldin. Late in the third, Eli Manning launched a bomb to Boldin. But Jets cornerback Darrell Revishand-fought with Boldin as the two jockeyed for position in the end zone. With his left arm entangled with Boldin, Revis stuck out his right arm and snagged the INT with one hand.