LAS VEGAS -- The revamped Pro Bowl Games didn't feature any tackling, but the flag football contests -- as well as the skills competitions -- provided plenty of competitive drama.
The NFC captured honor as the winner of the Pro Bowl Games, 35-33, led by a strong performance fromMinnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousinsin the final of three flag games. Cousins threw a pair of touchdowns to San Francisco 49erstight endGeorge Kittle and fullbackKyle Juszczyk.
Meanwhile, the defense slowed the Derek Carr-led offense to hang on for the win.
The NFC players take home $84,000 apiece for their win, with the AFC settling for $42,000.
Carr made what was likely his final appearance at Allegiant Stadium as a member of theLas Vegas Raidersin Game 3, throwing a touchdown and interception for the AFC.
A ROUGHNESS PENALTY? The first half of the first flag football game in Pro Bowl history is in the books, and the most memorable play so far is an ... unnecessary roughness penalty?
It's true.Los Angeles Ramscornerback Jalen Ramsey slammed intoMiami Dolphinsreceiver Tyreek Hill, knocking Hill forcefully out of bounds as he crossed the goal line for an AFC touchdown. The play touched off some playful pushing and shoving among the teams.
GENO SMITH'S ACCURACY EXTENDS TO FLAG FOOTBALL:The NFC added six points to its overall total with a 33-27 victory in the first of three flag football games.
Dallas Cowboysreceiver CeeDee Lamb scored the go-ahead touchdown with 12 seconds remaining when he caught a pass over the middle from theSeattle Seahawks' Geno Smith and eluded Chargers safetyDerwin James Jr.with a perfectly timed spin move. It was Lamb's second touchdown of the game.
That pulls the entire Pro Bowl Games competition into a 9-9 tie entering the upcoming Kick-Tac-Toe portion.
VERSATILE SKILLS: The AFC won the Kick-Tac-Toe competition among the kickers, punters and long-snappers, earning another three points. That was followed by an NFC victory in the gridiron gantlet, which featured Lions offensive tackle Penei Sewell busting through a padded wall, among other things. The overall score is 12-12 entering the second of three flag games.
DEFENSE LEADS THE WAY? The AFC held a 12-6 lead at halftime of the second flag game, overcoming a pick-six thrown by Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The AFC scored the go-ahead touchdown on what looked like a zone-read run from Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry.
The second flag game ended with an 18-13 victory for the AFC in a surprisingly defensive contest. This game was highlighted by three interceptions, including Jaire Alexander's pick-six and picks by Pat Surtain II and Trevon Diggs. Notably, Diggs' interception came at the expense of his brother, Stefon, who was attempting a pass on a trick play.
But Stefon got the last laugh by catching the decisive touchdown minutes later.
The AFC took a 21-15 lead into the third and final flag game after it won the move-the-chains competition and the NFC -- led by the Lions' Amon-Ra St. Brown, who won the best-catch contest. The 21-15 overall score will be the starting score in the final flag game, with the winner taking the overall victory.
The final minutes of the 2023 Pro Bowl Games is set up for a fun finish, with the NFC leading 28-27 at halftime of the third and last flag game.Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings threaded the needle for a tight throw to Dallas Cowboys receiver CeeDee Lamb on an extra point to put the NFC ahead.