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Jets at the Pro Bowl: First Half


It takes the AFC only its first offensive series to grab the lead on the NFC, 7-0, in the 59th Pro Bowl game today. And three of the Jets playing in this game contribute on that impressive 96-yard march.

Leon Washington, who moves into the Americans' backfield on the seventh play of the 10-play drive, catches a key pass on the eighth play, a 6-yarder from Peyton Manning that converts a third-and-6 and moves the ball to the Nationals' 23.

As Leon told Friday, "It's going to be fun having the opportunity of coming out here and catching a pass from another great, maybe Peyton Manning." It didn't take Neon Leon long to be a seer.

On the ninth play, Miami's Ronnie Brown, out of the vaunted Wildcat formation that he helped make famous this season, runs for 4 yards. And on the 10th play, Manning hits Tony Gonzalez with a perfect pitch, catch and sideline toetap by the Chiefs TE for the game's first touchdown.

Also on the drive, Thomas Jones starts at tailback and gets a 3-yard carry, while LG Alan Faneca, in his eight consecutive Pro Bowl and first for the Jets, and C Nick Mangold, in his first all-star role, make starts on the O-line and provide superb protection for Manning to hit six of his eight passes in the series.

That drive comes after the opening drive by the NFC offense. Starting for the AFC defense on that one: Kris Jenkins, back in the 4-3 base alignment that he played for Carolina before coming to the Jets and which Pro Bowl rules mandate. Big Jenk is playing the 1-technique alongside Titans DT Albert Haynesworth at the 3-technique.

The sixth Jet at the game, CB Darrelle Revis, makes his Pro Bowl debut on the AFC's second defensive drive on the left side. He makes the tackle on his first play, then he and Jenkins combine on a third-down incompletion by NFC QB Drew Brees, with Jenkins applying pressure up the middle off a spin move and Revis supplies close coverage on the overthrown pass for the Cards' Anquan Boldin.

Yet one more guy with former Jets connections is very much involved as usual in the Pro Bowl. Boomer Esiason is working his 11th straight PB, in the Westwood One radio booth along with Dave Sims, my old boss from the long-defunct "Sportsnight" show on the long-defunct WNBC-AM, and Hall of Fame QB Warren Moon.

We're figuring you're not hanging on every development of the Pro Bowl here on, but we'll report back every time we've got something we can bring to you about the Jets' contributions to this 30th Pro Bowl in Honolulu.

Second Quarter

Somehow you knew Kris Jenkins would do something crowd-pleasing in this game, and he does 2½ minutes into the second quarter by jumping offside.

Well, not just jumping offside. Jenkins was trying to get a big jump on the snap count, so when he barges into the NFC backfield and whistles blew all around him, he keeps running ... and running ... well, jogging, from the AFC's 40 to the NFC's 30. What's he doing?

He's doing penance for his penalty. He touches the 30, then comes back to touch the 40, then starts back for the 30. The crowd roars.

No. 77 atones two plays later by looming large and swatting down a Brees pass in the backfield intended for Cowboys TE Jason Witten. The defense holds and the NFC settles for Giant John Carney's 37-yard field goal to trim the AFC lead to 7-3.

And Washington provides some more crowd-wowing moves on the ensuing kickoff, his first return of the game. Leon takes Carney's kick on the 2, starts right, cuts back left, then spins free to get the ball to the Americans' 40 for a 38-yard return.

Jones supplies yardage on this drive into the NFC ed zone. A nice touch: After a 3-yard completion from Manning to Jones, ended by a tackle by Bears LB Lance Briggs, Jones is helped up by his former Chicago teammate and the two exchange helmet taps.

But Jones can't get it on first-and-goal at the 3, nor can the AFC on second, third or fourth down. And the NFC takes over at its 1 shortly before the two-minute warning.

Colts DE Robert Mathis gets his second strip sack of the game, this one recovered by the NFC but setting the blue team back to its 11. For the second time Jeff Feagles punts toward Washington — and for the second time he punts away from No. 29. After the ball is downed near midfield, Leon has a little fun, opening his hands wide as he looks toward Feagles, as if to say, "Why? Why won't you punt to me?"

With Kerry Collins in at QB — Jay Cutler graciously insisted that the Titans graybeard play behind Manning, even though Cutler got more fan, player and coach votes — the AFC wraps up the first half in style as Collins hits Texans TE Owen Daniels on two beauties, a 21-yard skinny post to the 9, then on a release into the end zone for the TD and a 14-3 lead.

Revis pushes the Bucs' Clifton Smith out of bounds on a 45-yard kickoff return, seeming to preserving that lead at halftime. But Brees has other ideas. With nine seconds left from the AFC 46, the 5,000-yard passer drops back and hits Cards WR Larry Fitzgerald on a streak past Titans CB Cortland Finnegan for an electrifying TD. And the half ends with the NFC getting back to within four at 14-10

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