HONOLULU -- Brandon Marshall caught six passes for 176 yards and a Pro Bowl-record four touchdowns, and the AFC used a second-half surge to beat the NFC, 59-41, on Sunday.
The Miami Dolphins wide receiver had a touchdown catch in each quarter, including an early 74-yarder and a 3-yarder in the fourth, in a game filled with highlight-reel catches. He was selected the game's MVP and his four TD catches set a Pro Bowl record.
The 59 points by the AFC set a Pro Bowl mark, and the 100 points scored by the two teams combined was the second highest, a touchdown shy of the 107 scored in 2004.
But it was clear from the start it was Marshall's day. He hauled in a deflected, go-ahead 47-yard TD pass from Andy Dalton, while on his back, to give the AFC a 38-35 lead late in the third quarter. It was Marshall's third TD catch of the game, tying Jimmy Smith's Pro Bowl record set in 2004.
Marshall, making his third Pro Bowl appearance, then nabbed a 3-yard TD pass from Dalton that gave the AFC a 52-35 lead with 8:25 left and put the game away.
Marshall victimized Chicago Bears cornerback and Buffalo native Corey Graham on two of his TDs
The game featured 36 first-timers, including rookie quarterbacks Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers and Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals, who replaced Super Bowl quarterbacks Eli Manning and Tom Brady. Their selection made this Pro Bowl the first to feature two rookie signal callers.
While Dalton looked composed, Newton played horribly -- struggling to move the ball, stay in the pocket and find his targets, which drew some boos from the sun-splashed, sellout crowd of 48,423.
Newton finished 9 of 27 for 186 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Dalton, meanwhile, was 7 of 9 for 99 yards and two TDs.
On his first series, Newton overthrew a wide-open Tony Gonzalez over the middle, with the ball sailing into Eric Weddle's hands. The San Diego Chargers safety popped up to his feet and returned it 63 yards to the NFC 23, leading to a 37-yard FG by Sebastian Janikowski, which gave the AFC its first lead of the game at 31-28.
Belichick gets happy
INDIANAPOLIS -- Even the usually dour Bill Belichick was joking around as the New England Patriots arrived in Indianapolis for Super Bowl week.
At his opening news conference Sunday night, Belichick was asked if he expected some Hoosier hospitality.
"I never had too much hospitality here," he said, noting that the Patriots aren't exactly popular in Colts country, "until I went for it on fourth and 2."
His gamble on that play at the New England 28 with 2:08 to go failed and led to the Colts' winning field goal in a 2009 regular-season game.
"Fans greeted us lots more and were awfully friendly" after that, he added.
All-Pro receiver Wes Welker wasn't familiar with the term when asked the same question.
"What is Hoosier hospitality? What does that consist of?" Welker asked to laughs before getting a full explanation from a local television reporter. "I think it will be a little strange practicing at the Colts' facility."
Belichick, dressed in a suit -- no hoodie for the coach this time -- also said All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski is "day to day" with a high left ankle sprain for next Sunday's NFL title game against the New York Giants. Gronkowski has been wearing a walking boot since being injured in the AFC title game.
"You've got to prepare for every one of these situations that come up," quarterback Tom Brady said of the possibility the tight end from Amherst will be limited or sidelined. "You always have to have some contingency plans."
Brady knows the Giants will bring lots of heat with their pass rush, but for now he was more comforted by not having to face a local rival who frequently has put Brady on his back.
"I see Dwight Freeney's picture up there [on the stadium]," Brady said. "When you come to Indy and don't have to play him, we are very fortunate for that."