Cunningham, Walker Lead NFC in Pro Bowl
Randall Cunningham displayed his knack for improvisation and Herschel Walker showed how tough he is to stop near the goal line as the National Football Conference routed the American Football Conference, 34-3, Sunday in the Pro Bowl.
Cunningham, voted the game’s most valuable player, completed 10 of 14 passes for 83 yards and rushed twice for 49 yards. Dallas Cowboys running back Walker scored 2 touchdowns for the NFC.
“We’ve taken the short end of the stick the past couple of years,” Walker said, referring to the NFC’s having lost the last two Pro Bowls. “We were fired up this time.”
Cunningham, the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback making his Pro Bowl debut, made a couple of spectacular plays by turning broken plays into big gains.
“The key was just not giving up until the end of the plays,” he said.
“When I found out I had won the MVP I was really fired up. I mean, Herschel had 2 touchdowns. . . . “
Chicago’s Mike Ditka, NFC coach, said, “With the talent we had, it would have taken a lot of bad coaching to mess it up.”
New Orleans Saints kicker Morten Andersen added a pair of field goals for the NFC, including a Pro Bowl record 51-yarder.
The NFC led, 14-3, at halftime, then scored 10 points in each of the third and fourth quarters.
Neal Anderson of the Chicago Bears, also making his first Pro Bowl appearance, rushed for 85 yards in 13 carries and caught 2 passes for 17 yards.
Houston quarterback Warren Moon led the AFC with 13 completions in 20 attempts for 134 yards. But, after going 10 for 11 for 98 yards in the first half of his initial Pro Bowl, Moon was pressured by the NFC defense in the second and had trouble throwing the ball on target.
“When you get behind, the defense comes right at you,” Moon said. “They know you have to throw the ball.”
Buffalo’s Marv Levy, the AFC coach, said, “We played a lackluster game. I feel badly. You don’t play any game, including an all-star game, without wanting to win.
“As we didn’t make the plays, our enthusiasm waned. As they made the plays, their enthusiasm increased.”
Walker put the NFC ahead, 7-3, with his first touchdown, 9:33 into the game.
John Settle of the Atlanta Falcons made it 14-3 on a 1-yard touchdown run on fourth and goal midway through the second quarter.
The NFC added a 27-yard field goal by Andersen and Walker’s 7-yard run in the third quarter.
Andersen’s 51-yarder and an 8-yard touchdown pass from Minnesota’s Wade Wilson to the Rams’ Henry Ellard closed out the scoring.
The NFC defense, led by ends Chris Doleman of Minnesota and Charles Mann of Washington, limited the AFC to a 38-yard field goal by Buffalo’s Scott Norwood early in the game.
The NFC, which had lost 2 consecutive Pro Bowl games and 3 of the last 4, leads the series, 11-8.
Members of the winning NFC team earned $10,000 each. The AFC players received $5,000 apiece.
Andersen’s field goal broke the Pro Bowl record of 48 yards set by Kansas City’s Jan Stenerud in 1972.
Moon had the AFC moving well in the first quarter and early in the second, with his only incompletion a well-thrown pass.
The ball bounced off intended receiver Eddie Brown of Cincinnati and Ronnie Lott of San Francisco intercepted 1 yard deep in the NFC end zone and returned the ball 34 yards.
Norwood put the AFC ahead, 3-0, after Moon led his team 46 yards on the game’s first series.
The NFC came right back with a scoring drive on its first possession. Cunningham started things rolling with a 32-yard run on the NFC’s first play, moving the ball to the AFC 35.
A 10-yard completion to Roger Craig of the 49ers, a 7-yard run by Craig and a 7-yard gain by Walker then helped set the stage for Walker’s first touchdown.
After Lott’s interception ended an AFC scoring threat early in the second quarter, Wilson helped put the NFC ahead, 14-3, when he led the team 80 yards to a touchdown midway through the period.
A 17-yard run by Anderson, a 16-yard pass from Wilson to Anderson and a 15-yard scramble by Wilson on third and 13 at the AFC 49 keyed the drive.
With fourth and goal 6 inches from the goal line, the AFC stopped Anderson short, but an offsides call gave the NFC another chance. Settle then scored.