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Pro Bowl standings now 16-15

Gannon, AFC decimate NFC

Posted: Monday, February 05, 2001

HONOLULU -- Rich Gannon got the AFC off to a winning start in the Pro Bowl, then took the rest of the day off.

Gannon, who led the Oakland Raiders to their best season in 10 years, passed for 160 yards and two touchdowns in the first 11 minutes Sunday as the AFC rolled to a 38-17 victory over the NFC.

It was enough to earn MVP honors for the 35-year-old veteran playing in his second straight Pro Bowl after languishing in a backup role for most of his first 11 NFL seasons.

By winning for the fourth time in the last five Pro Bowls, the AFC trimmed the NFC's lead to 16-15 since the game went to its present format in 1971.

The AFC scored the first three times it had the ball on Gannon's two scoring passes and a 29-yard field goal by Matt Stover, and led by at least two touchdowns the rest of the way.

Less than two minutes into the second quarter, the AFC had 14 first downs and 231 yards of total offense to no first downs and six yards for the NFC.

Gannon, playing for the first time since Oakland's 16-3 loss to Baltimore on Jan. 14 in the AFC championship game, when he separated his left (non-throwing) shoulder on a hit by Tony Siragusa, completed his first eight passes and was 12-of-14 before taking a seat in favor of Peyton Manning, who also threw two touchdown passes.

Gannon capped an 87-yard, nine-play drive following the opening kickoff by throwing an 8-yard scoring pass to Tony Gonzalez, who had six receptions for 108 yards -- all in the first half.

Following a punt, Gannon directed his team 90 yards in 10 plays, capping the drive with a 16-yard scoring pass to Marvin Harrison, who had eight catches for 84 yards and two touchdowns.

The NFC finally got a first down two minutes into the second quarter while moving into position for a 48-yard field goal by Martin Gramatica.

On its next possession, the NFC moved to the AFC 32 before Jevon Kearse deflected Jeff Garcia's pass into the arms of Jets linebacker Mo Lewis, who returned the interception 16 yards.

The AFC then moved 56 yards on 10 plays, scoring on a 2-yard pass from Manning to Jimmy Smith with 54 seconds left in the half to make it 24-3.

Smith, who caught three touchdown passes in the AFC's 51-31 loss to the NFL last year, has scored

a Pro Bowl career record five TDs.

Donovan McNabb, who didn't play in the first half, completed three passes for 58 yards including a 17-yard touchdown throw to Terrell Owens to begin the third quarter for the NFC's first touchdown.

The NFC then tried an onside kick, but it didn't work, and Manning, who hit16 of 22 passes for 150 yards, threw a 24-yard

scoring pass to Indianapolis teammate Harrison to cap a 36-yard, five-play drive and make it 31-10.

Minnesota's Daunte Culpepper, who completed just 2-of-9 passes for 11 yards with one interception in the first half, threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Torry Holt with 3:22 left in the third period to draw the NFC within 14 points.

On its next possession, the NFC failed on a fourth-and-1 play at its 44.

The AFC answered as Edgerrin James ran 20 yards for the game-clinching touchdown three plays later, making it 38-17 with 11:19 remaining.



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