- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 10, 2002

HONOLULU The old man can still play a little.
Oakland Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon, 36 and the fourth oldest player in yesterday's Pro Bowl, led the AFC to 28 first-half points and a 38-30 win over the NFC yesterday. Gannon received game MVP honors for the second straight year.
"Experience counts for a lot in this game, but so does playing with great players," said Gannon, who completed eight of 10 passes for 137 yards and two scores. Gannon is the event's first multiple MVP recipient since Chicago's Gale Sayers won his third such award in 1970.
"I've got great players in Oakland and really great players here," Gannon said. "Every time we needed a play, I had another skill guy I could lean on."
Kansas City running back Priest Holmes had 77 yards rushing on just 11 carries, and Oakland punter Shane Lechler kept the NFC pinned deep with a Pro Bowl-record 60.8-yard average.
Gannon drove out of Aloha Stadium with another new car, but his sparkling day was late in starting. On the first play from scrimmage, Gannon botched a pitchout to Buffalo's Larry Centers, and the Phiadelphia Eagles' Hugh Douglas recovered the loose ball at the AFC 2-yard line. Green Bay's Ahman Green scored on the next play to open up wild first quarter in which a Pro Bowl-record 34 points were scored.
After the NFC tacked on a field goal, the AFC rebounded for 21 straight points. Gannon hit Indianapolis' Marvin Harrison for a 55-yard touchdown and led subsequent scoring marches of 6 and 81 yards.
"Rich is so resourceful and has a great feel for the game," said Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher, who directed the AFC squad. "We got down early, but he never became unraveled and very coolly marched us back."
St. Louis' Kurt Warner, starting at quarterback for the NFC, looked as rusty as he did during much of last Sunday's Super Bowl XXXVI, completing just six of 14 passes for 63 yards and an interception. He could only lead the NFC to another field goal before Gannon found Ken Dilger of the Colts for a 18-yard touchdown that extended the AFC lead to 28-13.
"[The AFC] came to play, no doubt," said Washington linebacker LaVar Arrington, playing in his first Pro Bowl. "I didn't expect them to come firing back like that and make all the plays they did. But give them credit, they did what they had to do."
With the NFC trailing 28-16 midway through the fourth quarter, Washington cornerback Champ Bailey provided a significant spark when he picked off a wayward pass from Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady of New England and returned it 44 yards to the AFC 31.
Six plays later, Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb, like Warner struggling to find his rhythm, connected with San Francisco receiver Terrell Owens from 8 yards out to cut the NFC deficit to 28-23. Owens led all receivers for the day with eight catches for 122 yards.
But on the next NFC possession, New England's Ty Law intercepted McNabb's pass at the NFC 44. Law ran 31 yards and lateraled to Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis, who scrambled the final 13 yards to give the AFC an insurmountable 38-23 lead.
"I saw Ty getting tied up and had plenty of space around me," Lewis said. "I was yelling so loud at him, he had to throw it to me. Fortunately, he saw me and we could get it done."
The victory enabled the AFC to tie the series 16-16 since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide