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Posted: Sunday January 31, 2010 11:04PM; Updated: Monday February 1, 2010 12:27AM
Don Banks

Snap Judgments: The Pro Bowl had plenty of good, bad, ugly moments

Story Highlights

Roger Goodell prefers to keep playing the Pro Bowl before Super Sunday

Neither the AFC nor NFC showed much sustained passion during the game

Bryant McKinnie will likely never be voted into another Pro Bowl again

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The NFC's DeSean Jackson ran circles around the AFC defense, racking up six catches for 101 yards and two touchdowns.
Doug Benc/Getty Images

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight from an NFC-AFC Pro Bowl that was more notable for where it was played, when it was played, and who's not here, than anything that actually happened in the game ...

• Sounds like the Pro Bowl is staying in the week-before-Super-Bowl slot for the foreseeable future if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has any say in it (and he most assuredly does). So that means each and every season the NFL can try to beat this year's record of 34 players who pulled out of the game, either due to injury or mandatory inactivity (i.e., players from each Super Bowl team).

Thirty-four no-shows. Wow. That's nearly a third Pro Bowl roster in and of itself.

• I don't want to suggest the Pro Bowl is played at a leisurely, almost gentlemanly pace on defense, but NFC defensive end Justin Smith actually helped AFC offensive tackle Joe Thomas to his feet during -- repeat, during! -- the game's first touchdown, a Matt Schaub to Andre Johnson pass.

Is the phrase "Pro Bowl-style defense'' an oxymoron, or just a punch line? I get why this game outlaws blitzing. But when did they change the rules to prohibit tackling and pass coverage? I believe the NFC defense played most of the game in the popular "Cover None'' formation. It's a Pro Bowl thing.

• The only thing missing from that Brian Dawkins interception lateral-fest was the theme music from The Benny Hill Show playing in the background. Or maybe "Send in the Clowns.''

It's all fun and games until someone loses an ACL.

• With Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers picking the AFC apart in the first half (15 of 19, 197 yards, two TDs, 145.0 rating), and the AFC's red/white uniform scheme, you could almost convince yourself the Arizona Cardinals defense had picked things up where they left off against the Packers in the NFC playoffs.

• The NFC actually went for it -- and made it -- on 4th-and-7 from the AFC 42 in the second quarter. That's just not fair. The AFC defense wasn't even stopping anybody on three downs, let alone four.

• Why do they even name running backs to the Pro Bowl any more? In the first quarter, the NFC ran once, the AFC twice. As compared to a combined 25 pass plays that were called.

• A somewhat rainy Sunday night in South Florida. That can't be what Commissioner Goodell was hoping for with his grand Pro Bowl experiment.

Wonder what the weather was like in Honolulu on Sunday? Don't ask Goodell.

• If Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney does indeed have a torn ankle ligament and can't play in the Super Bowl, I'd say the Saints' chances of pulling the upset goes up by at least 10-15 percent. Without Freeney to worry about, New Orleans could slide its pass protection to Indy's other superb pass rusher, Robert Mathis, perhaps limiting his impact significantly.

That's why losing Freeney might end up costing the Colts more than just their pass rush on one side. It might well have a cumulative effect, allowing New Orleans to negate the rush from both sides of Indy's defensive line.

• Tell me if this sounds like Reggie Wayne thinks he'll see Freeney lining up against the Saints next Sunday night: "Hopefully we can have him out there, even if he's out there coaching the guys, [that] would be vital to us,'' said Wayne from the Pro Bowl.

That's not waving the white flag on Freeney's chances of playing, but it's close.

• The Pro Bowl resembled a regular-season game only when Eagles super soph DeSean Jackson had the ball in his hands. Mainly because he ran away from AFC defenders, scoring twice, just like he did all year for Philadelphia.

Come to think of it, ditto for when Josh Cribbs was the ballcarrier, too.

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