All six Vikings made significant Pro Bowl contributions Sunday, with three of them sparking a turnaround in the game in the third quarter.
The Vikings more than made their presence felt Sunday at the Pro Bowl. At one of the game's most critical times, three Vikings made plays that helped win the game for the NFC all-stars.
With the AFC leading 14-10 with less than five minutes to play in the third quarter, the AFC squad had the ball on the NFC's 32-yard line looking to go in for a touchdown that could help seal the game. AFC quarterback Kerry Collins
went deep downfield for Brandon Marshall
of the Broncos, but was intercepted by Antoine Winfield
, who pulled in the pass at the 11-yard line and returned it to the NFC 30.
Although the NFC all-stars didn't take advantage of the turnover with points, they were able to improve their field position and let Collins start his next drive from his own 20-yard line. Trying to erase the memory of the interception, on Collins' next pass attempt he was stripped of the ball from behind by Jared Allen
, who picked up the ball on one hop and returned to the AFC 10-yard line.
On the next play, Adrian Peterson
went in from 10 yards out after stopping and starting as the play appeared to be strung out to the right side for a touchdown to give the NFC a 17-14 lead.
The NFC would eventually score the game's final 13 points in a 30-21 win, but all of the Vikings Pro Bowlers earned their money – and helped secure a win for the NFC that appeared in doubt most of the game.
The NFC share of the payoff for Sunday's game was $45,000 per player. The loser's share was $22,500.
It was clear that Andy Reid had a different philosophy to coaching the NFC squad than Mike McCarthy did a year ago. Last year, the Packers head coach let Peterson run wild, rushing 16 times for 129 yards and two second-half touchdowns. While A.D. had the most carries of any player in the game, he led the way with just eight carries for 48 yards.
Steve Hutchinson played almost the entire game for the NFC team, missing only a few plays here and there.
The Vikings defenders were all over the stat sheet Sunday. Winfield had four tackles and an interception, Kevin Williams had four solo tackles and Pat Williams and Allen each had three tackles.
Allen earned the rare trifecta on one tackle. On the play in which stripped Collins of the ball in the third quarter, he was credited with a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in the span of less than two seconds.
Peterson and the Williams Brothers took time out of their Pro Bowl week to visit wounded soldiers and their families at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii. The hospital is home to U.S. soldiers injured fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
During a radio interview during the Pro Bowl, new Hall of Fame inductee Bruce Smith said that he has asked former Vikings and Bills defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell to be the people who introduces Smith at the induction ceremony.
One of the rumors being circulated is that just because QB Matt Cassel signed his $14.65 million franchise tender last week doesn't mean he's going to end up with the Patriots. Many believe that the Patriots are convinced they can work out a trade for Cassel and get something significant in return. Adam Schefter of NFL Network told a Boston radio station that he views the Vikings, Chiefs and Lions as "the frontrunners" in acquiring Cassel. Realistic? We'll have to wait and find out.
Jon Runyan, the right tackle of the Eagles who is scheduled to become a free agent at the end of the month, was another player being rumored as one that might draw interest from the Vikings in free agency. However, Runyan just underwent microfracture surgery on his right knee and the rehab time on such an injury is typically four to six months. Given his age, injury history and the iffy return rate on microfracture injuries, the Vikings alleged interest may have just deflated like a leaky balloon.