Thanks to the Pro Bowl, the scoreboard in Miami Gardens, Fla., is all warmed up for the Super Bowl.
Long gains were the rule and hard hitting was the exception Sunday night as the AFC beat the NFC, 41-34.
Light showers fell for much of the game, stirring memories of a rainy Super Bowl in the same stadium three years ago, but the weather failed to slow either offense.
The AFC's Matt Schaub and the NFC's Aaron Rodgers threw two touchdown passes each, and DeSean Jackson caught two scoring passes for the NFC.
From the standpoint of ticket sales, this year's new venue and slot on the NFL calendar was a success. The crowd of 70,697 was the largest for a Pro Bowl since the 1959 game in Los Angeles.
Spectators included Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and other Pro Bowl players from the Super Bowl teams. Manning and the Indianapolis Colts will face Brees and the New Orleans Saints on the same field next Sunday.
The NFL sought to transform the Pro Bowl into a bigger game by playing it before the Super Bowl for the first time.
In a one-year experiment, the league also moved the game from Honolulu, its home since 1980.
Nearly 40% of the players originally selected for the game didn't play. One of the AFC replacements, David Garrard, threw for 183 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown to Vincent Jackson.
Schaub completed 13 of 17 passes for 189 yards and was chosen the game's most valuable player.
Dwight Freeney, star defensive end for the Colts, is nursing a severely sprained right ankle and a source said he is "doing everything possible" to play in the Super Bowl.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Times that includes Freeney's spending hours a day in a hyperbaric chamber and using an electrical-stimulation machine on his ankle, even while he's sleeping.
Freeney came to South Florida on Friday ahead of the rest of the Colts, in part to receive treatment from a Miami chiropractor he frequently uses during the season.
ESPN and the NFL Network reported Freeney has ligament damage to the ankle, putting in doubt his availability against New Orleans. His 13 1/2 sacks this season tied him for third in the league.
-- Sam Farmer