Peterson stars in NFC's 42-30 victory in Pro Bowl

Monday, February 11, 2008
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson smiled after he was presented the Pro Bowl MVP trophy in Honolulu. The NFC defeated the AFC 42-30. (PAUL SAKUMA ~ Associated Press)

Vikings rookie running back rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns.

HONOLULU -- Adrian Peterson stood in front of the car he'd just won as MVP of the Pro Bowl. He wiggled the keys, leaned against the red roof and soaked in the acclaim.

Quite a way to finish off a rookie season.

Peterson ran for 129 yards and two touchdowns, and Terrell Owens made up for early sloppiness with two TD receptions in the NFC's 42-30 comeback victory over the AFC on Sunday.

Offensive Rookie of the Year Peterson's performance was the first of more than 100 yards since Marshall Faulk had 180 and Chris Warren added 127 in 1995. The Minnesota running back joined Faulk as the only rookies to be voted MVP of the Pro Bowl.

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28), of the NFC team, points as he is given the MVP trophy after the Pro Bowl football game in Honolulu, Sunday, Feb. 10, 2008. The NFC defeated the AFC 42-30 (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

"Good company," Peterson said. "We didn't get into the playoffs, so for me to come here and do this at the Pro Bowl means a lot.

"I came with a goal: win the game and be MVP."

And the car?

"I'm going to keep it," Peterson said, smiling.

Owens' 6-yard catch from Tampa Bay's Jeff Garcia provided the winning points, and Owens knew the new ride could have been sitting in his driveway. Then Peterson added a clinching 6-yard touchdown run to steal the wheels.

"It didn't surprise me," said Owens, who finished with eight catches for 101 yards in a game that often resembled flag football on the beach. "He'll be in Minnesota his whole life and buying a lot of fur coats."

Peterson grew up in Texas, so the Hawaiian weather was more to his taste than the frigid upper Midwest. He had several highlight runs, particularly a 39-yarder on one TD drive, and a 17-yard jaunt down the left sideline for a 28-27 NFC lead early in the third quarter. Four AFC defenders missed him on that touchdown.

"He's like lightning in a bottle," Denver safety John Lynch said. "There's probably a handful of guys that you could say that has it all. And he's got that. He's got a little attitude to him.

"He's going to wreak havoc in this league for a long time."

Neither side held back the tricks, to the delight of the sellout crowd of 50,044 at Aloha Stadium. There was a fake punt, a throwback kickoff return and a handful of fourth-down gambles.

One of those was a 34-yard pass to Owens from fellow Cowboy Tony Romo that sparked the comeback. Before that huge play, Owens had a pair of ugly drops that drew boos.

He quickly turned them into cheers.

"It's not how you start, it's how you finish," Owens said.

"That's old hat," added Romo, who had to scramble away from a big pass rush before finding T.O. "We've done that before."

NFC players won $40,000, which Owens said made the trip to the islands even better.

"Hopefully they'll continue to play it over here and we will continue to make some highlight plays," he said.

The 48 first-half points tied the Pro Bowl record for the first two periods. The only punt of the half turned into a fake and an 11-yard completion from San Francisco's Andy Lee to Minnesota fullback Tony Richardson. After Peterson gained 24 yards on two plays, Romo threw to Larry Fitzgerald, who dived across the goal line to tie it at 7.

On the opening drive, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez set the frenetic pace with completions of 31 and 25 yards around a botched snap that cost the AFC 20 yards. Browns receiver Braylon Edwards, one of 41 newcomers (including injured players) beat Seattle's Marcus Trufant on another 31-yarder before Lorenzo Neal dived in from the 1. The San Diego fullback, a 15-year veteran, scored his first Pro Bowl touchdown.

The scoring never abated.

But it was Peterson's debut that stood out. He finished off the scoring with 2:43 remaining in the game.

"Can I top this?" Peterson said, repeating a question as he leaned against the Cadillac. "Yeah, you always set your bar high."

The AFC leads the series 20-18.

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