Lance Alstodt kicked like an All-Pro. Cary Blanchard and John Kasay
HONOLULU (AP) _ Lance Alstodt kicked like an All-Pro. Cary Blanchard and John Kasay kicked like investment bankers.
With Alstodt stealing the show by making a 35-yard field goal to win $1 million at halftime, the AFC’s Blanchard and NFC’s Kasay kept the Pro Bowl going by missing.
Blanchard, who was off from 41 yards moments earlier, finally hit a 37-yarder 8:15 into overtime Sunday to give the AFC a 26-23 victory over the NFC.
Kasay missed a 39-yarder with 11 seconds remaining in regulation, making the overtime necessary.
``I know there were some guys that were a little upset that it went so long because they needed to catch their flights,″ noted Mark Brunell, the Jacksonville quarterback who was a fill-in for the injured John Elway and won the Pro Bowl’s MVP Award.
Ironically, Kasay gave Alstodt, an investment banker in New York, some tips on making his one kick to win the ``Hershey’s $1 Million Pro Bowl Kick!″
Alstodt, 26, who played soccer as a youth, coolly boomed home his kick at halftime to win $1 million. While he went 1-for-1, the all-star kickers went a combined 3-for-8.
In defense of Blanchard and Kasay, however, they were working with new holders and new snappers, and the lack of practice showed.
Kasay, the Carolina Panthers’ kicker, missed three of four attempts, but one of those was a 66-yarder. He seemed to be out of rhythm, working with new people.
``We tried the best we could, but it didn’t work out,″ he said. ``We didn’t get a chance to work on it that much.″
Blanchard, of the Indianapolis Colts, agreed that timing was a problem with so little practice.
``Your rhythm really isn’t there because of different guys in different places,″ he said. ``I just pulled through it (his first overtime kick), but the second one was just beautiful. The snap was perfect, the hold was perfect, and I couldn’t do anything but put the ball through.″
Although the kickers had their problems, the game was an exciting one, with Brunell and Washington’s Gus Frerotte, both invited to the Pro Bowl only after John Elway and Troy Aikman withdrew because of injuries, helping provide offensive fireworks.
Brunell completed 12 of 22 passes for 236 yards, including an 80-yard pass play to Tim Brown with 44 seconds left in regulation that tied it at 23.
Brunell also took the AFC on a 66-yard drive to Blanchard’s winning field goal, throwing a 43-yard pass to New England’s Ben Coates along the way.
``I was honored just to be out here with these players, the best in the world, let alone take home the MVP,″ Brunell said.
After Brunell and Brown hooked up for the long scoring play in the final minute of regulation, Frerotte immediately marched the NFC back down the field, but Kasay’s kick was off and the teams headed to overtime.
Frerotte completed 13 of 25 passes for 193 yards, including a 53-yard TD throw to Cris Carter of Minnesota for a 23-16 lead with four minutes left in regulation.
``It was kind of a crazy game,″ Frerotte said. ``There were a lot of big plays, just the way a Pro Bowl should be. I hope this won’t be my last Pro Bowl. I need to come back here and win one some time.″
Cornerback Ashley Ambrose of the Cincinnati Bengals came up with a big defensive play, a Pro Bowl-record 54-yard interception return for a score. He picked off a throw by Kerry Collins and had clear sailing to the end zone to give the AFC a 16-15 lead early in the fourth quarter.
``It gave us some momentum, but they came right back,″ Ambrose said. ``I’m glad we finally got the victory.″
Oakland’s Brown had five catches for 137 yards, and St. Louis’ Isaac Bruce had seven receptions for 104 yards for the NFC.
Detroit’s Barry Sanders was the leading rusher with 11 carries for 59 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown, and Curtis Martin of New England led the AFC with 13 carries for 48 yards and a 3-yard touchdown.
The opposing Super Bowl quarterbacks from a week earlier, Green Bay’s Brett Favre and New England’s Drew Bledsoe, started the Pro Bowl, but didn’t play much.
Favre led the NFC to scores the first two times it had the ball, including a 5-yard TD pass to guard Randall McDaniel of Minnesota on a trick play where he lined up as a receiver. Favre played only the first quarter and the first series of the second. He completed six of 11 passes for 143 yards.
Bledsoe played two series in the opening quarter and two series in the third, going 3-of-8 for 67 yards.