Chicago Bears

Peppers, Hester help NFC claim Pro Bowl victory

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Peppers, Hester help NFC claim Pro Bowl victory

Sunday, Jan. 30, 2011
Posted 9:55 p.m. Updated 10:54 p.m.

Associated Press

HONOLULU - MVP DeAngelo Hall had one of his team's five interceptions and returned a fumble 34 yards for a touchdown to help the NFC match a Pro Bowl scoring record in a 55-41 victory over turnover-prone AFC in a game that was not nearly as interesting as the final would indicate.

AFC quarterbacks Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning and Matt Cassel each threw first-half interceptions to help the NFC blow open a 42-0 lead in a performance ugly even by the historically low standards of this game.

Fittingly for this strange contest, center Alex Mack of Cleveland scored the final touchdown on a 67-yard pass play that featured two laterals with 16 seconds left.

Carolina's Jon Beason returned the fifth interception thrown by the AFC, and second by Matt Cassel, 59 yards for the NFC's final touchdown to match the single-team scoring record set in the NFC's 55-52 victory in 2004.

New England coach Bill Belichick, after his Super Bowl favorite Patriots lost to the New York Jets in the divisional playoffs, had to watch his AFC squad muddle through the one-sided first half.

Pro Bowls are, by their nature, laid-back affairs, seemingly played at half speed by players whose biggest concern is to get on the plane home without injury.

The AFC, though, took that attitude to an uncomfortable extreme early on before coming back to outscore the NFC 41-13.

The NFC led 42-0 after Steven Jackson waltzed through the AFC defense for a 21-yard touchdown - and there still was 4 12 minutes left in the second quarter.

Rivers, starting in place of injured Tom Brady, was picked off twice in the first quarter, the second by Hall.

Manning, in his 11th Pro Bowl, came on briefly in relief and his second pass was picked off. Then Cassel got his chance and quickly joined in the spirit of things, throwing his second pass of the game directly into the hands of Minnesota cornerback Antoine Winfield.

But just when it appeared it would be the most one-sided game in Pro Bowl history, eclipsing the Joe Theismann-led 45-3 NFC rout of the AFC in 1984, the AFC scored three touchdowns in a row. The last came on the game's seventh turnover, when Devin Hester tried to hand the kickoff return to Hall, but the ball fell to the turf. Montell Owens of Jacksonville scooped it up and ran it in 10 yards for the score to make it 42-21 with 10 minutes left in the third quarter.

With his seven extra points, tying a Pro Bowl record, along with two field goals David Akers moved ahead of Morten Andersen (45) for most Pro Bowl points with 52. The Philadelphia kicker would have had more but his 36-yard field goal try in the fourth quarter bounced off the right upright.

A tropical downpour preceded the game but subsided just before kickoff as the game returned to its traditional home in Hawaii after a one-year detour to Miami .

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick started but played only the first quarter, completing 5 of 10 passes for 59 yards.

Adrian Peterson rushed for 80 yards in 14 carries for the NFC, including a 14-yarder to set a Pro Bowl record with four career rushing touchdowns. Atlanta got good performances from Matt Ryan (9 of 13 for 118 yards and two touchdowns with an interception), Michael Turner (eight carries for 53 yards) and Roddy White (five catches for 69 yards).

Notes

Bears defensive end Julius Peppers recorded the only sack for the NFC, Miami's Randy Starks had the only sack for the AFC. ... A 70-yard punt by Mat McBriar of Dallas in the first quarter tied for second-longest in Pro Bowl history. ... The state of Hawaii is paying the NFL about 4 million this season and next to keep the Pro Bowl team in Honolulu. Location for the contest is up in the air after 2012. ... Peterson had been tied with three career rushing TDs with Earl Campbell, Chuck Muncie and Mike Alstott. ... Tony Gonzalez added to his Pro Bowl record for career receptions (42) and moved into first in TD catches with his sixth. ... The attendance of 49,338 was just shy of a sellout.

Box Score
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Mitch Trubisky will eventually make a glaring mistake, and why he'll respond to it well

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USA Today Sports Images

Mitch Trubisky will eventually make a glaring mistake, and why he'll respond to it well

John Fox likes to use a formula to determine how a player will respond to adversity: Events + Responses = Outcomes (E + R = O). Mitch Trubisky hasn’t experienced much adversity in his first two preseason games, but if how he’s handled the mistakes he’s made in practice is any indication, he’ll respond to those well. 

“Your response typically equals the outcome,” Fox said. “If you haven’t dropped a ball, haven’t missed a pass, you haven’t thrown a pick, you haven’t played. It’s how they respond.”

Trubisky missed a few passes Saturday night against the Arizona Cardinals and was battered a bit behind a third-string offensive line. But he hasn’t thrown an interception in 33 preseason attempts, and his final line Saturday — 6/8, 60 yards, 1 TD — was solid, though not as spectacular as his preseason debut. 

Consider this, though: Two days before lighting up the Denver Broncos (second/third/fourth-string) defense, Mitch Trubisky ended practice by throwing an interception to Deiondre’ Hall in the end zone.

“It sucks,” Trubisky said. “The rest of my day will not feel as great since I ended practice that way.”

Trubisky responded to that pick by, in the short term, making a few more throws after practice. He then went out and dazzled against Denver, completing 18 of 25 passes for 166 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. 

“It’s all about, for me, not making the same mistake twice,” Trubisky said. “So, you can make a mistake and that’s going to happen, especially for rookies, but it’s all about overcoming that, learning from it and don’t let it happen again. And I think I’ve done a pretty good job of that so far.”

Trubisky speaks confidently and acts that way in both practice and games. There is some general risk associated with playing a rookie quarterback before he’s “ready,” because if he struggles his confidence could be severely damaged. 

With Trubisky, though, there doesn’t seem to be as great of a confidence risk if the Bears do decide to play him early.

Of course, the best way for Trubisky to avoid a hit to his confidence is to not make any mistakes. But inevitably, he’ll throw an interception or have a bad game. That’ll be the E in that equation Fox likes. 

And, so far, Trubisky — who thought he played “alright” against Arizona —  has shown his “R” will probably be good. That’s another mark in his favor for being ready to play earlier than was expected when the Bears drafted him in April. 

WATCH: Deonte Thompson channels inner Devin Hester with 109-yard return in Bears preseason game

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AP

WATCH: Deonte Thompson channels inner Devin Hester with 109-yard return in Bears preseason game

It's been a while since Devin Hester electrified the city of Chicago with his touchdown returns, but we got flashbacks of that Saturday night.

Deonte Thompson took a page out of the book of arguably the best returner in NFL history by returning a 109-yard missed field goal to the house as the first half expired during the Bears' second preseason game in Arizona.

It gave the Bears a 17-7 lead, and even had John Fox going crazy on the sideline:

Deonte Thompson, you are ridiculous?