Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2018 Pro Bowl: AFC Edges Out NFC In Come-From-Behind Fashion

Despite a great defensive effort in which Bucs' LB Kwon Alexander led the team in tackles, the NFC fell to the AFC on a last-minute scoring drive.

View photos of Bucs' players DT Gerald McCoy and LB Kwon Alexander in the 2018 Pro Bowl. Photos by AP Images.

With a chip on his shoulder, linebacker Kwon Alexander said during the week leading up to the 2018 Pro Bowl that he planned to play with the same 'emotional intensity' as he does any regular season game. The first-time Pro Bowler set out to prove that he belonged and even set his sights on defensive MVP.

Through the first half, Alexander walked the walk, leading the NFC with five total tackles, three of which were solo. His Buccaneers teammate and Pro Bowl captain defensive tackle Gerald McCoy was right behind him with two. The two even combined to make a tackle together on Buffalo running back LeSean McCoy in the second quarter, bringing the ball carrier down after a gain of just three yards.

Alexander finished the night with a team-leading six combined tackles, undoubtedly proving his worth and position as an NFL Pro Bowler. Six-time Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy added three tackles (two solo) of his own.

The two defenders led an NFC squad that forced four turnovers throughout the game. The NFC defense intercepted an AFC quarterback three times and forced one fumble.

The NFC opened scoring halfway through the first quarter when Saints' quarterback Drew Brees hit Vikings' wide receiver Adam Thielen from eight yards out. Panthers' kicker Graham Gano added the extra point to give the NFC an early 7-0 lead. The AFC answered before the end of the quarter with a field goal by Steelers' Chris Boswell. Linebacker Kwon Alexander had two tackles in the series.

It was all NFC for the remainder of the first half. Gano hit two field goals from 43 and 41 yards. The NFC proved their defensive prowess when Vikings' Harrison Smith picked off Ben Roethlisberger on a pass intended for Big Ben's teammate Antonio Brown. Smith returned the interception 79 yards for the touchdown. The NFC went into halftime leading 20-3.

The AFC wasted no time in closing the gap. They marched down the field on their first possession of the second half to score their first touchdown of the game. It was Chiefs' quarterback Alex Smith to Titans' Delanie Walker for the four-yard score, putting the AFC within 10.

On the next possession, the AFC forced their first turnover of the game as Chargers' cornerback Casey Hayward picked off the Seahawks' Russell Wilson. With the Raiders' Derek Carr taking over at quarterback, the AFC scored their next touchdown three minutes later on a 2-yard run from Bills' running back LeSean McCoy.

With the NFC clinging to a 20-17 lead, Rams' quarterback Jared Goff led the NFC into the red zone before he was sacked for a loss of eight yards by the Steelers' Cameron Heyward. The NFC would have to settle for another field goal to extend their lead to 23-17 in the fourth quarter.

Then, with 1:31 left on the clock, quarterback Derek Carr connected with Titans' Delanie Walker for Walker's second touchdown of the game, giving the AFC their first lead of the game, 24-23. Walker nabbed the offensive MVP for his efforts.

It was the only lead they would need. NFC quarterback Jared Goff attempted to engineer a game-winning drive for the NFC, but on third-and-6 at his own 29-yard line, he was stripped of the ball by Broncos' Von Miller. Miller would earn defensive MVP honors at the conclusion of the game. Derek Carr took a quick knee and the AFC emerged as the come-from-behind victor with a final score of 24-23.

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