Photos: 2015 NFL Pro BowlPosted: Updated:
Watt dances and dazzles at the Pro Bowl | By JOHN MARSHALL AP Sports Writer
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- J.J. brought some Wattage to the Pro Bowl with an array of athleticism and hip-shaking shimmying.
Even in a game his team didn't win, J.J. Watt found a way to steal the show - just like he had all season.
Capping an electrifying season, Watt intercepted a pass, recovered a fumble and showed off his dance moves to a sellout crowd at the Pro Bowl Sunday night.
"I just tried to enjoy it; that's what the Pro Bowl is all about, giving the fans a good show," Watt said. "Everybody worked so hard to get here, you want to enjoy yourself and play some good ball."
OK, maybe the good ball was a stretch.
As is the case with most Pro Bowls, the game wasn't exactly scintillating, filled with shoddy tackling and less-than-full effort from the players.
Team Irvin won it over Watt's Team Carter team 32-28.
The 6-foot-5, 289-pound defensive end showed off his athleticism with an interception in the second quarter, leaping to swat down Matthew Stafford's pass, then gathering the deflection. He recovered a fumble in the third quarter, swatted down another pass and defended four passes in the defensively-lacking game.
Watt also put his dance moves on display during a third-quarter timeout, raising his arms in the air and shaking his hips, drawing big cheers from the crowd when it was shown on the video board. He shimmied again during timeout in the fourth quarter, this time drawing Team Carter teammate Marcell Dareus into the mix.
Watt was named the defensive player of the game - his cheers were much louder than for Stafford, the offensive MVP - and closed out the night by posing for a selfie with Team Carter defensive end Robert Quinn.
"Guys are dancing around and having a good time, that's what it's all about," Watt said.
Now his attention turns toward Saturday's NFL Awards show.
Watt is one of the favorites to win the NFL's MVP award, though faces long odds, at least historically.
The MVP award has been an almost exclusively-offensive club through the years, handed out to defensive players twice in NFL history: Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Alan Page in 1971 and New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor in 1986.
The award usually goes to a player from a winning team; the last MVP from a non-playoff team that was Buffalo Bills running back O.J. Simpson in 1973.
Whatever happens, Watt proved his worth this season after becoming the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history with a six-year, $100 million contract.
Watt was the NFL defensive player of the year in 2012 and may have had a better season in 2014, becoming the first player in NFL history to have two 20-sack seasons by tying a career with 20.5. He led the league with five fumble recoveries, was tied for second with four forced fumbles and his sack total was tied for second.
Watt also scored five touchdowns: three on offense and one each on a fumble and interception returns.
Numbers like those ratcheted up the MVP talk, but Watt deflected it, just as he has all season
"I'm sure it'll be a fun show," Watt said of the awards shot. "My family will be out, so it will be cool."
It always seems to be with Watt around.
Pro Bowl a testing range for quirky rules | By BOB BAUM, AP Sports Writer
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- The odd rules that the NFL tried in the Pro Bowl made for a strange sideshow.
No kickoffs, no blitzing, alternate possessions to start each quarter, two-minute warnings for each quarter and stopping the clock when a running play doesn't gain a yard in the final two minutes.
And skinny little goal posts, particularly hard to hit on longer extra-point kicks.
A capacity crowd of 63,225 watched Team Irvin beat Team Carter 32-28. Chances are no one came to see if Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri - who had not missed a PAT in five years - could squeeze a 33-yard extra point through 14-foot wide uprights.
Twice he couldn't.
Vinatieri's counterpart on Team Carter, rookie Cody Parkey, didn't miss. But he didn't like the experiment.
"It's just unfortunate that they're trying to make it harder us for a lot of guys' success in the league," he said.
Vinatieri also missed a field goal.
Parkey, who kicks for Philadelphia, said his job got a lot tougher with the smaller target and the added distance.
"It's definitely different, but at the same time, you just go out there and kick your ball, and a little more accuracy is definitely needed."
It was the second Pro Bowl in which the NFL dropped the AFC vs. NFC format and had big-name former players pick their teams in a draft.
"The guys enjoy it," Houston defensive end J.J. Watt said. "The new style where you pick teams make it like schoolyard ball, I've said that before, it's competitive."
Some things we learned from Sunday's Pro Bowl:
STARS COME OUT: The best players usually make the biggest plays, and that was true on Sunday.
At the top of the list was Watt, who intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble. Named the game's defensive MVP, he also showed how much fun he was having, dancing during commercial breaks.
"I just tried to enjoy it. That's what the Pro Bowl is all about, giving the fans a good show," he said.
Jimmy Graham, New Orleans' superb tight end, caught two touchdown passes and dunked over the goal post both times. In a real game that would have been a penalty.
"That was amazing. For me, it made the entire week," he said. "Hopefully, one day they'll look back and change this rule so I can do it in a real game. And hopefully one day in the Super Bowl."
Indianapolis' Andrew Luck completed 9 of 10 passes for 119 yards and two scores. Detroit's Matthew Stafford, the offensive MVP, was 15 for 25 for 316 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.
And rookie Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants caught five passes for 89 yards, including a diving ground-level grab of a 48-yard pass from Stafford.
BIG CROWD: The Pro Bowl has just a one-year run in the desert. Next year it will be back in Hawaii, where the crowds are nothing like the one that showed up in Glendale on Sunday.
The NFL staged the Pro Bowl on the same field where the Super Bowl will be played next Sunday. That meant a big media contingent, too.
"The people have been fantastic," Dallas quarterback Tony Romo said. "They've got a lot of passionate fans. It's been a great week."
TEAMMATES: With Michael Irvin and Cris Carter picking the teams, there were some NFL teammates on the same side and some going against each other.
T.Y. Hilton caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from his Indianapolis quarterback Luck.
Stafford connected with Detroit teammate Golden Tate on a 60-yard play.
"Golden came out here and played fantastic tonight, had some big plays," Stafford said. "Obviously got me off to a fast start and he's been doing that for me for a long time."
Even when players faced a teammate, they couldn't help but cheer them on.
When Jordy Nelson caught a caught a 21-yard touchdown pass from Drew Brees for Team Carter, he jumped up in celebration with Green Bay teammate Clay Matthews, who was playing for Team Irvin.
LOTS OF OFFENSE: As usual, offense ruled in the Pro Bowl.
The teams combined for 1,067 yards and 54 first downs.
And the wealth was spread around.
Ten players caught at least one pass for each team.
OPEN ROOF: Arizona Cardinals fans may have forgotten, but the roof does slide open at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Sunday marked the first time it was open for a game since the Cardinals played San Francisco on Dec. 29, 2013.
The Cardinals like it closed because it's a lot louder.
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