I watched about half of Sunday’s Pro Bowl game. I’m not certain why. It was two quarters more than I’ve watched in more years than I care to remember.
Perhaps it was because there was nothing else on at the time that drew my interest. Then again, maybe I needed a football fix.
That the poobahs at National Football League headquarters have decided to play the game the week prior to the Super Bowl no doubt contributed to the high number of viewers.
Well, maybe not high, but the 12.5 million households that had the game on outdrew the Major League All-Star Game, which pulled in 11 million last summer. That, in and of itself, is quite an accomplishment since the two Pro Bowl teams play defense as though they're learning to play it for the first time.
The baseball All-Star Game, on the other hand, is played on a much higher competitive plane. And still it can beat the Pro Bowl for TV ratings.
With ratings like that, you can be certain the NFL will never go back to holding the Pro Bowl game the week following the Super Bowl. Even with elected players from the two Super Bowl teams absent, the ratings seem to justify the switch.
As for the game itself, is it any wonder the two teams Sunday rang up a record 100 points? It was more like a flag football game the way the two sides sorta kinda played.
For more than three quarters, linemen on pass plays slow-danced with each other. At the snap, offensive linemen dropped back and engaged their defensive counterparts in a touchy-feely way. The only thing missing was an orchestra playing a waltz.
On occasion the crowd realized the half-hearted effort by the two teams and began to boo.
It was much easier playing in the trenches than beyond the line of scrimmage. It looked more like a training camp 7-on-7 drill most of the afternoon with the running backs and wide receivers going against the linebackers and secondary.
Brandon Marshall scored four touchdowns for the AFC and Larry Fitzgerald found the end zone three times for the NFC. Under ordinary circumstances, a couple of sensational feats. Under these circumstances, ho hum.
Watching Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas go 1-2-3 with Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen on play after play had me reaching for the No-Doz. During the regular season, Allen would have given Thomas fits.
The teams generated 1,142 yards, 943 through the air, and 52 first downs. The running game was nothing more than window dressing. Is it any wonder the longest run in Pro Bowl history is only 70 yards by the Browns’ Jim Brown in 1962?
With the exception of the final two NFC series, when the AFC actually summoned up a real, honest-to-goodness pass rush on Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, the quarterbacks had no problem getting the ball out as the men in the trenches played in slow motion.
All the skill players on offense and the back seven on defense earned their money on this afternoon. And even then, the effort wasn’t there totally as rivals smiled and patted each other on the butt after big plays. So much for the competitive nature of the game.
Sure it’s nice to watch an offensive explosion. But not one as carefully orchestrated as this one.
Will I watch next year? Only if there’s nothing else on.