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Pro Bowl Panthers


Steve Smith runs away from AFC defenders for some of his 89 yards at the Pro Bowl Sunday. (PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Wide receiver Steve Smith posted a team-leading 89 yards on six receptions to help the NFC to a 30-21 win over the AFC's all-stars in the Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu on Sunday.

Smith was one of the quartet who represented the Panthers at the NFL's annual all-star game, which put the final conclusion on the 2008 season.

The eighth-year wide receiver did not start, but made an impact early, picking up 17 yards on a pass from New Orleans' Drew Brees midway through the first quarter to push the NFC into AFC territory for the first time.

Smith's second reception -- a 20-yarder on third-and-1 just over one minute into the second quarter -- moved the NFC to the AFC 45-yard-line and helped set up the NFC's first points of the afternoon -- a 37-yard field goal by the New York Giants' John Carney.

His day closed with a 7-yard fourth-quarter catch that moved the NFC to the AFC's 3-yard-line, setting the NFC up for the Larry Fitzgerald touchdown reception two plays later that put it in front to stay with 4:03 remaining.


Offensive tackle Jordan Gross started in his first Pro Bowl appearance and was not whistled for a penalty as the NFC gained 309 yards.

Linebacker Jon Beason, also making his Honolulu debut, saw plenty of action for the NFC, logging four total tackles on defense and another on special teams.  His most notable stop came with 3:17 left in the second quarter, when he held Thomas Jones to a two-yard gain on first-and-goal, putting the NFC in position for a goal-line stand that ended on a fourth-and-goal incompletion, which temporarily kept the AFC's lead at 7-3.

Defensive end Julius Peppers started for the NFC and finished with four total tackles, a sack and a fourth-quarter interception of Denver quarterback Jay Cutler with 2:26 remaining.  Peppers' 12-yard return of the pick set the NFC up at the AFC 31-yard-line and led to a 48-yard Carney field goal that pushed the NFC edge to 27-21.

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