Let’s keep it real: the Pro Bowl sucks. Sure, it’s a great opportunity to see some of the best players in the league on the same field, but the actual game isn’t very fun.
The Pro Bowl Skills Showdown, however, is a fun event for both fans and players. The 2019 Pro Bowl Skills Showdown not only featured the addition of a new challenge — it gave us a handful of bloopers to laugh at throughout the various competitions.
DeMarcus Ware and Jim Kelly are the coaches for the AFC’s Skills Showdown team, which consists of Von Miller, Myles Garrett, Kyle Williams, Denzel Ward, Eric Ebron, James Conner, Jamal Adams, Andrew Luck, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Deshaun Watson.
Emmitt Smith and Brian Urlacher will be coaching the NFC’s squad, which consists of Ryan Kerrigan, Bobby Wagner, Adam Thielen, George Kittle, Mike Evans, Saquon Barkley, Russell Wilson, Cameron Jordan, Mitchell Trubisky and Akiem Hicks.
The events this year include the 40-Yard Splash, the Gridiron Gauntlet, the Best Hands competition, the Precision Passing competition and Epic Pro Bowl Dodgeball (all in the NFL’s own words).
Here’s a quick recap of some of the action from the big Showdown.
Best Hands competition
The Best Hands competition pits two quarterback-wide receiver duos from each conference in a timed relay race to catch a series of passes at specific points in the field. They also have to do specific catching motions, like diving, one-handed, over-the-shoulder, etc.
The NFC representatives for the Best Hands competition were the pairings of Russell Wilson throwing to Adam Thielen and Mitchell Trubisky throwing to Mike Evans. The NFC team posted a time of 1:25.
Unfortunately for the NFC team, the AFC team just barely beat their time. The AFCs pairs were Deshaun Watson throwing to JuJu Smith-Schuster and Andrew Luck throwing to his Colts teammate Eric Ebron. The AFC group posted a time of 1:22.
Precision Passing Competition
In the Precision Passing competition, each conference’s two quarterbacks and one captain-appointed non-quarterback will go at it in an accuracy competition, trying to hit as many targets as possible.
The first person to throw was Broncos linebacker Von Miller. He only got two points and generally couldn’t throw the ball anywhere near the targets.
Miller’s performance was so bad that his own team had to pull out the jokes.
Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky hit the five point target twice!
The NFC ended up winning the Precision Passing competition behind 19 points by Russell Wilson. After the match, Russell Wilson was elated because there were diapers on the line.
"There's diapers on the line"— SB Nation (@SBNation) January 25, 2019
Russell Wilson at the Pro Bowl Skills challenge pic.twitter.com/F6PPQpua1I
The 40-Yard Splash is new this year, and is a football-inspired take on a fire bucket brigade. Players race to fill up a dunk tank and attempt to hit the target with a football, dunking an opposing team member in the process.
Jets safety Jamal Adams hit the game winning throw to dunk Hall of Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher into the water. The AFC is up 2-1 after the first three events.
Five players from each team will participate in a head-to-head relay race that includes multiple challenges in the Gridiron Gauntlet. One of the aspects of the race is a fumble scramble through an inflatable path.
The AFC won the skill challenge thanks to two key mistakes by the NFC squad. Bobby Wagner forgot to pick up one of the balls during the fumble drill and Akiem Hicks ran the wrong way after the bag drills.
Denzel Ward finished the race by exploding for the last 40 yards and diving through the foam brick wall they had set up.
Epic Pro Bowl Dodgeball
And finally, the Epic Pro Bowl Dodgeball will be a best-of-three series of classic dodgeball involving every member of both teams.
The AFC took round one. Saquon Barkley put up a valiant effort by himself, but he was outnumbered five to one and couldn’t get it done. The NFC won round two after George Kittle knocked the ball out of Jamal Adams’ hands.
The NFC ended up winning the third round of dodgeball behind the golden arm of Adam Thielen. That gave the NFC team the overall win in the Pro Bowl Skills Showdown.