Antonio Cromartie (Donald Miralle/Getty)
Norv Turner counted on familiar faces getting the job done in the Pro Bowl, but the NFC came up with the win, 42-30. The offensive explosion was right up Turner’s ally, but his squad could not keep pace despite two interceptions by Antonio Cromartie. As far as Turner is concerned, the next time he sees Adrian Peterson will be too soon.
Norv Turner had no reluctance to hand or pass the ball to his three-time Pro Bowler Lorenzo Neal. Neal's 1-yard run landed the AFC its first touchdown on Sunday.
Neal welcomed the opportunities after handling the ball a total of 21 times all season. He earned five touches on Sunday, perhaps a gesture by Turner to show appreciation to a player many expect to be released.
Marcus McNeill and Kris Dielman lined up in front of Neal. The duo’s shoulder pads touched at the line, but the familiarity did not help much with the run. The AFC finished with 45 rushing yards.
Kassim Osgood, who made the roster by virtue of special teams, nearly hauled in a touchdown reception, but a pass from Cleveland Browns Derek Anderson fell incomplete. Osgood finished his second Pro Bowl appearance with one tackle.
San Diego’s defense felt the sting of Adrian Peterson once again. Immediately after Shawne Merriman stepped in, he made it a point to tackle the rookie who gave LaDainian Tomlinson a run for his rushing title. Peterson still finished with 129 yards and scored the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter, plus one more for good measure in the fourth. Merriman finished with four tackles.
The Chargers were well represented by Antonio Cromartie, who tied a Pro Bowl record with two interceptions. He also showed his uncanny athleticism, tallying 77 yards on interception returns.
Tony Romo and Jeff Garcia were victimized by the league’s interception leader. Cromartie also tacked on two tackles. However, he went one-on-one with Terrell Owens most of the game and allowed two touchdowns.
Injuries prevented three big-time players from making the 2008 trek to Hawaii. Tomlinson withdrew last month after missing all but a handful of plays in the AFC Championship Game. Antonio Gates, who was named to his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl, bowed out just days ago, as did Jamal Williams (ankle).
Amberly Richardson is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a correspondent for Scout.com. She has contributed to the official Web sites of Lorenzo Neal, Shaun Phillips, Shawne Merriman and many other for Sixthman Communications.