With the 2022 NFL Pro Bowl coming up this weekend, let’s journey through history and remember five of the greatest performances the game has ever seen.
Greatest performances in Pro Bowl history
Between rule changes and so many top players opting out of the game, recent Pro Bowls have been tough to get excited about. There was a time, though, when the NFL’s top stars sought to make the most of their limited playing time.
Here are five of the top performances in Pro Bowl history.
1) Brandon Marshall, 2012
Coming off an 81-catch, 1,214-yard, 6-touchdown season, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall was at the top of his game. Although he didn’t know it at the time, the 2012 Pro Bowl marked Mashall’s final game as a Dolphin before he was traded to the Chicago Bears.
Marshall put on a display the likes of which the Pro Bowl had never seen in its history. By 2012, we were already at the point where players typically play a quarter or so and then give way to someone else for the remainder of the game. Marshall appeared in all four quarters and did something no one else has ever done — he caught a touchdown in all of them. Marshall caught 6 balls for 174 yards and 4 touchdowns in the most dominant Pro Bowl performance of all time.
2) Marc Bulger, 2004
I’m not quite sure how Marc Bulger made the 2004 Pro Bowl. Tasked with filling the shoes of the great Kurt Warner, the St. Louis Rams quarterback threw for fewer than 4,000 yards while leading the league in interceptions with 22. Somehow, he made the Pro Bowl. He then went on to lead the NFC to the greatest comeback in Pro Bowl History.
Trailing 38-13 in the third quarter, Bulger started the comeback with a touchdown to teammate Torry Holt. He threw 3 more TDs to Keenan McCardell, Alge Crumpler, and Shaun Alexander, leading the NFC to a 55-52 comeback victory. After the AFC set the record for most points scored in a half in the first half with 31, Bulger led the NFC to break that record with 42 points in the second half.
3) Marshall Faulk, 1995
Despite playing in an era where players were often eased into action, Marshall Faulk dominated from the moment he stepped on an NFL field. He saw 314 carries and 74 targets as a rookie, totaling 1,804 yards from scrimmage with 12 touchdowns.
In the 1995 Pro Bowl, Faulk, as a rookie, shattered the game’s rushing record. Despite toting the rock just 13 times, Faulk amassed 180 rushing yards — a record that still stands today. It is no surprise he became the first rookie to win Pro Bowl MVP.
4) Randy Moss, 2000
As a rookie, Randy Moss led the NFL in receiving touchdowns with 17. After his sophomore season, he evidently felt like breaking the Pro Bowl single-game receiving yards record.
As was par for the course during the time, Moss was completely unstoppable. He caught 9 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown en route to a Pro Bowl MVP award. It’s a record that still stands today, and given the nature of how current Pro Bowls are played, I don’t think it will ever be beaten.
5) Adrian Peterson, 2008
From the moment Adrian Peterson stepped foot on a football field, everyone knew he’d be great. Peterson rushed for 1,341 yards and 12 touchdowns as a rookie. Unsurprisingly, he made the Pro Bowl.
In the 2008 Pro Bowl, Peterson played a huge role in the NFC’s second-half comeback. He carried the ball 16 times for 129 yards and 2 touchdowns. It was a nice cap on a stellar rookie season for a running back that would go on to be one of the greatest.