Derek Carr digs at Raiders, helps AFC grab lead at Pro Bowl Games

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Derek Carr had a parting shot for the Las Vegas Raiders as he helped the AFC take a 9-3 lead at the inaugural Pro Bowl Games skills competition on Thursday night in Las Vegas.

The “reimagined” Pro Bowl festivities got underway in prime time with Peyton Manning and Eli Manning captaining the AFC and NFC rosters, respectively. Four events were completed Thursday, each worth three points.

In the first event, “Precision Passing,” three quarterbacks from each conference took aim at targets under a time limit, including one five-point target hanging from a moving drone.

Carr, the last quarterback to take his turn, racked up 31 points to power the AFC to a 71-55 win over the NFC.

ESPN analyst Ryan Clark asked the Raiders veteran if he had ever gotten that hot in Las Vegas before.

“Not that hot,” Carr said. “That’s probably why I’m going somewhere else.”

It was perceived as a dig at the Raiders, the only NFL team he’s ever played for, who benched him with two games left in the 2022 regular season before they had been eliminated from playoff contention. Carr wrote a goodbye letter to Raiders fans in January, with the expectation that he would be released or traded this winter.

The AFC won an event called “Lightning Round” that featured a series of three games primarily for offensive and defensive linemen.

After a water balloon toss whittled the teams down, several for each conference advanced to “High Stakes,” in which the big men tried to field as many punts as they could while holding onto each football they caught.

Two players from each side advanced to the final event: Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Trey Hendrickson (who caught four punts), Cleveland Browns guard Joel Bitonio, Dallas Cowboys center Tyler Biadasz and New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan.

Hendrickson then won the three points for the AFC in “Thrill of the Spill,” a knockoff dunk tank setup that saw Hendrickson’s lob pass hit a target to dump confetti onto Eli Manning.

Some portions of the event were pre-recorded, including a “Best Catch” contest that showed four participants create high-difficulty catches in landmarks around Las Vegas. Fans will vote on whether Stefon Diggs of the Buffalo Bills or Pat Surtain II of the Denver Broncos will represent the AFC in Sunday’s final, as well as choosing between Minnesota Vikings star Justin Jefferson and Detroit Lions receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown for the NFC finalist.

Also pre-recorded was a long-drive contest that helped the AFC take a 9-0 lead. Bills safety Jordan Poyer hit a 320-yard drive on the final swing of the event, surpassing Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson’s 316-yarder to win.

The NFC avoided being blanked for the night by beating the AFC in a dodgeball showdown.

Each conference fielded two teams of six, and the AFC defense defeated the AFC offense in one semifinal while the NFC offense beat the NFC defense in the other. In the finals, the NFC offense cruised to victory, ganging up on the AFC’s last man standing, Pittsburgh Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.

The conclusion of the event Sunday afternoon will feature a flag football competition in place of what used to be a full 11-on-11 exhibition.

–Field Level Media

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