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The conference format and skills competition weren’t the only things new to the Pro Bowl in 2017. Defense made a cameo as well.
In an all-star game filled with forced punts, goal-line stands and busted trick plays, the NFC, which featured four Giants players, fell to the AFC, 20-13, on Sunday night at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. It was a changeup from the 76 points the teams combined for a year ago and the record 62 points the NFC scored three years before that.
Safety Landon Collins, cornerback Janoris Jenkins and special teamer Dwayne Harris made their first Pro Bowl appearances, and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. represented the Giants for the third time in as many seasons in the league.
Beckham kicked things off by catching a pass from rookie quarterback Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys on the first play of the game. He went on to record a game-high 93 yards on six receptions, including a 42-yard hookup with Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, Collins and Jenkins, who became the first pair of Giants defensive backs to make the Pro Bowl since Erich Barnes and Dick Lynch in 1963, started for the NFC. They didn’t get many balls thrown in their direction, but Collins was at the center of a fake punt attempt in the first half.
However, unlike his signature interception return against the Rams in London, this one won’t go on his highlight reel as Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier tackled Collins short of the first down after taking the direct snap.
“I didn’t get the edge, but next time, next fake, I’m taking it back like London,” Collins said, referencing the play that launched his Pro Bowl campaign back in Week 6.
Giants coach Ben McAdoo will have to keep that in mind.
As a prelude to Super Bowl LI, this year’s “re-imagined” edition of the Pro Bowl, which was played in Orlando for the first time, returned to the traditional AFC vs. NFC format following three years of “unconferenced” rosters. The 2017 Pro Bowl Week also featured a skills showdown that matched the AFC and NFC all-stars against each other in unique challenges, including dodgeball and a drone drop, which Beckham won by catching a football released from 125 feet in the air.
The Pro Bowl players were determined by the consensus votes of fans, players and coaches. Each group’s vote counted one-third toward determining the 86 Pro Bowl selections. Coaches and players could not vote for players on their team.