A half-filled Orlando stadium got the Pro Bowl ending it deserved

Shutdown Corner

Alex Smith started at quarterback for the AFC, and Kirk Cousins finished under center for the NFC.

This wasn’t the Pro Bowl’s shining moment. Then again, has the Pro Bowl ever had a shining moment?

If the NFL thought it was difficult luring players to Hawaii a week after the Super Bowl, what must the league be thinking after watching what unfolded in Orlando a week before the season’s final real football game? Naturally, the game featured no players from the NFL’s last two teams standing, including MVP favorites Matt Ryan and Tom Brady, and even Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Trevor Siemian turned down an invitation to participate in the league’s so-called all-star competition.

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So, we got a game that came down to the final minute — and still wasn’t all that interesting. The final sequence was all too fitting. Cousins threw an interception to Lorenzo Alexander. Alexander lateraled to Aqib Talib, who returned it 65 yards before being stripped by Cousins. That fumble led to a lengthy review and an eventual ruling in favor of the AFC. Mercifully, Philip Rivers kneeled on a 20-13 victory.

[Ditch the paper and pen – play Squares Pick’em for the Big Game!]

Yes, 33 total points. In a Pro Bowl. Announcer Sean McDonough’s final exasperation of the night was reminding those who watched at home on television that the game averaged 71 points from 2000-16.

More people may have watched inside the stadium, and that’s not saying much. Supposedly, there was a sellout crowd of 60,834 on hand to start the game, but by the second half, attendance was sparse:


So sparse that several Internet jokesters plucked the low-hanging fruit:



At least someone in the audience provided us with this fan-on-the-field gem, involving Ezekiel Elliott:


 

Seriously, when Travis Kelce’s #SaltBae touchdown celebration is the most exciting thing to come out of the Pro Bowl, the event’s got issues. There were only two other touchdowns — a 26-yard pass from Alex Smith to Delanie Walker and a 47-yard Drew Brees toss to Doug Baldwin — and no TDs after halftime. In the end, there were more field goals (4) than touchdowns (3). We’re going to DisneyWorld!

Get a load of how all 23 drives ended:

FIRST HALF

• Punt
• Fumble
• Downs
• Punt
• Downs
• Touchdown
• Interception
• Interception
• Touchdown
• Punt
• Punt
• Touchdown
• Punt
• Kneel

SECOND HALF

• Field goal
• Punt
• Field goal
• Field goal
• Punt
• Field goal
• Punt
• Fumble
• Kneel

I don’t blame anybody for leaving that stadium.

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That’s the saddest box score I’ve ever seen, and it was even sadder to watch unfold. Winning players were awarded twice as much payment for participating — some $60,000 to half that for the losers — but you wouldn’t have been able to tell from watching. Make it a million each for the winners and nothing for the losers, send it back to Hawaii and eliminate punts and field goals. See what happens.

Try something new, NFL, because whatever that was on Sunday night, it wasn’t working.

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