NFC 21



February 1, 1981

HONOLULU (AP) - Detroit Lions' rookie Eddie Murray was the Pro Bowl Most Valuable Player by virtue of his four field goals, but members of the National Football Conference defensive unit made most of the difference in the game.


With Tampa Bay's Lee Roy Selmon, Dallas' Bob Breunig and Los Angeles' Jack Reynolds among the standouts, the NFC defense held the potentially explosive AFC offense in check in Sunday's 21-7 National Conference Pro Bowl victory


"Our secondary did a great job and gave the defensive line time to get to the quarterback" said Selmon, who logged four tackles and had two of the NFC's four quarterback sacks.


The NFC held Houston running back Earl Campbell, the NFL's leading rusher the past three years to just 24 yards on eight carries. The entire AFC running game netted only 65 yards on 22 attempts and the American Conference passing attack was generally ineffective.


NFC Coach Leeman Bennett of Atlanta lauded the entire defense and added: "I was particularly pleased with the defensive play of Charlie Johnson, Randy White and Rod Perry. There was some outstanding play from both teams' defensive secondaries."


The Eagles' Johnson was in on seven tackles, Dallas' White recovered a fumble that eventually led to one of Murray's field goals and Los Angeles' Perry figured in five tackles.


Murray, a native of Halifax, Nova Scotia and a Tulane product, hit field goals of 31, 31, 34 and 36 yards. He missed on pair of 37 yard attempts, the last hitting the crossbar with just 22 seconds left to play.


Murray said he was disappointed he failed to equal or tie the Pro Bowl record for field goals. "I should have made them all," he said. "I knew I was only one short of the record."


"I watched the Pro Bowl on television last year and at that time, I wondered if I could even make it in the NFL, much less the Pro Bowl," said Murray.


"This is the highlight of my rookie year, and it's a nice way to cap off the season. I just hope I'll be back again."


Three of his three-pointers in the first half pushed the NFC to a 9-7 lead- and all three came on turnovers. The first and third were set up by interceptions by Randy Logan of Philadelphia and Joe Lavender of Washington and the second by a fumble recovery by Dallas' White.


The other NFC scoring came on a 55-yard touchdown pass from Steve Bartkowski to Atlanta teammate Alfred Jenkins and a safety when the AFC’s and Oakland's Art Shell was detected for holding in the end zone. The touchdown came after the NFC defense had stopped the AFC on a 4th-and-3 try near midfield. Atlanta's Billy Andrews picked up 2-yards then, Bartkowski found Jenkins ahead of Houston safety Greg Stemrick for the score.


"Playing well in the game meant a lot to me, particularly since I had gotten into the game when Tony Hill was hurt," said Jenkins, a replacement Pro Bowler who was the contest's leading receiver with three catches for 91 yards. "I wanted to prove I belonged on the field. It's a great way to end a great year."


"The touchdown play was called as an option screen in the huddle," said Bartkowski. "But, I gave Al ‘our signal' when I saw the cornerback come up. That probably would not have been possible if I played quarterback for another team."


Although it gave up 21 points, the AFC defense turned in a good effort. Kansas City safety Steve Barbaro saved a touchdown when he recovered a fumble by Philadelphia quarterback Ron Jaworski in the AFC end zone, and also intercepted a Jaworski pass.


The AFC's lone score came on a 9-yard pass from Cleveland’s Brian Sipe to Stanley Morgan of New England, which capped a three-play drive highlighted by a 52-yard pass from Sipe to Buffalo's Joe Cribbs.


"We just weren't very artistic," said AFC coach Sam Rutigliano of Cleveland.


"I just hope I'm not the first Pro Bowl coach to get fired."


The weather may have been a factor, too.


"This is the hottest weather we've played in since we played in San Diego and Los Angeles," said NFC Coach Leeman Bennett. "I think some of the players began to feel it."


Game MVP, Eddie Murray, kicks one of four field goals.


The AFC's Brian Sipe (17) scramble to throw with Tampa Bay's Lee Roy Selmon in pursuit.


1980 1982