February 4, 1990
Unlike the Super Bowl, where San Francisco buried Denver 55-10, the league's all-star game went down to the final seconds and the final play, with the NFC holding on for a 27-21 victory Sunday.
"Maybe that comeback and exciting finish will rejuvenate the Pro Bowl game a little," said Bud Carson of Cleveland, the AFC coach.
It turned out to be an exciting game despite the absence of some of the NFL's top names, including quarterbacks Joe Montana, John Elway, Boomer Esiason and Don Majkowski.
Montana and Elway pulled out last Monday with elbow injuries. Esiason withdrew earlier because of injuries and Majkowski, expected to try to negotiate a rich, new contract, apparently didn't want to risk injury.
Dave Krieg of Seattle, a late replacement at quarterback, almost pulled out the game for the AFC. He rallied his team within six points, then had an apparent touchdown pass called back on the next-to-last play of the game.
"I thought, 'That's a great way to end the game,'" Krieg said, referring to his apparent TD pass of 2 yards to Seahawks teammate Brian Blades, that would have capped a dramatic 91-yard drive. "Then I saw the penalty flag."
Krieg's final pass then fell incomplete as time ran out.
The penalty was against Indianapolis Colts tackle Chris Hinton, who had reported into the game as an eligible receiver, then switched back to tackle on the next play. The rules dictate that he either should have played another down as an eligible receiver or left the game for one play.
Craig said he didn't hesitate when asked to come to Honolulu on the spur of the moment.
"I came as soon as I was asked," said the Seattle quarterback, who completed 15 of 23 for 148 yards and a touchdown. "I wasn't afraid of getting hurt. Players come here to have a good time, but they play hard, too."
The NFC's defense keyed the victory, with big plays by Rams cornerback Jerry Gray and Vikings nose tackle Keith Millard giving them enough to hold off Krieg and the AFC.
Gray, voted the game's most valuable player, returned an interception of Houston's Warren Moon 51 yards for a touchdown for a 20-7 lead in the third quarter.
Four minutes later, Millard scooped up a fumble and ran eight yards for another touchdown.
"The defense really did the job," said Philadelphia quarterback Randall Cunningham, who provided the NFC a 13-7 lead with an 11-yard TD pass to the Giants' Dave Meggett early in the third quarter.
"Jerry Gray picked one off for a touchdown and then Keith Millard went in for a touchdown a few minutes later and that was the difference in the game," Cunningham said.
All-star game or not, the closing minutes felt like an NFL game, said Gray, whose interception return was a Fro Bowl record, topping a 48-yard return for a touchdown by Joey Browner in 1986.
"It was really like a regular-season game," Gray said of the intensity in the final minutes. "We worked so hard during the first three quarters that we didn't want to lose at the end. The intensity was on our side."
Cincinnati safety David Fulcher was one of the defensive standouts, with two interceptions and three tackles for the AFC, and linebacker Chris Spielman had eight solo tackles and six assists for the NFC.
Jerry Gray was the MVP with his 51 yard interception return and 7 tackles.
|Christian Okoye scored early for the AFC.|