MIAMI — Thanks to the Pro Bowl, the scoreboard in Miami is all warmed up for the Super Bowl.
Long gains were the rule and hard hitting was the exception Sunday night as the AFC all-stars beat the NFC 41-34.
Light showers fell for much of the game, stirring memories of a rainy Super Bowl in Miami three years ago, but the weather failed to slow either offense. The AFC's Matt Schaub and the NFC's Aaron Rodgers threw two touchdown passes each, and DeSean Jackson caught two scoring passes for the NFC.
From the standpoint of ticket sales, this year's new venue and slot on the NFL calendar was a success. The crowd of 70,697 was the largest for a Pro Bowl since 1959 in Los Angeles.
Spectators included Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and other Pro Bowl players from the Super Bowl teams. Manning and the Indianapolis Colts will face Brees and the New Orleans Saints on the same field next Sunday in the biggest game of the season.
The NFL sought to transform the Pro Bowl into a bigger game by playing it before the Super Bowl for the first time. In a one-year experiment, the league also moved the game from Honolulu, its home since 1980.
Nearly 40 percent of the players originally selected for the game didn't play. One of the AFC replacements, David Garrard, threw for 183 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown to Vincent Jackson.
Schaub went 13 for 17 for 189 yards and was chosen the game's most valuable player. DeSean Jackson scored on a 7-yard pass from Rodgers and a 58-yard pass from Donovan McNabb, his regular quarterback with the Eagles.
There were plenty of other big plays. Joshua Cribbs caught a punt at the goal line and returned it 65 yards for the AFC. Rodgers hit Steve Smith for a 48-yard score. LaMarr Woodley's 64-interception return for a touchdown was negated because the AFC had 12 men on the field.