It’s been a while since you could use “Ravens” and “fun” in the same sentence. I sure didn’t think the 2017 Pro Bowl would do anything to change the dreary ending to the Ravens season.
But there they were!—a flock of Ravens flying around the field and seemingly enjoying the extra effort they were putting into an exhibition game which is usually criticized as lame from an entertainment standpoint.
Kicker Justin Tucker, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, safety Eric Weddle, center Jeremy Zutttah and long snapper Morgan Cox were all members of the AFC team that won Sunday’s Pro Bowl 20-13. By winning the game, players on the AFC roster got to head home with a $61,000 bonus check. Juszczyk, who was playing in his first Pro Bowl, had the biggest night. He caught five passes for 43 yards and also had three carries for eight yards.
Tucker also had a good night. He hit field goals from 38 and 31 yards, and also connected on both of his extra-point attempts. Tucker’s field-goal range (he hit a 75-yarder in practice) has been a big storyline throughout the week of Pro Bowl practice, but he didn’t get any chances from long distance. He did line up for a 41-yard attempt, but the AFC ran a fake on the play and picked up the first down.
During pre-game warmups, Tucker showed off his receiving ability by leaping and reeling in a high pass in the back of the end zone with one hand. Tucker also booted a 50-yard kick through a basketball hoop that was attached to a field goal post.
Weddle, who was selected by his teammates as one of the four AFC captains, was part of a defense that held the NFC’s all-stars at bay. The Pro Bowl is typically a high-scoring affair, but this year’s game bucked that trend. “Shoot, the defense came out and played their tails off,” Weddle said.
Weddle mostly had a quiet night, but he did break up a pass in the end zone intended for Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
Former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis also added a Baltimore flavor to the Pro Bowl with a pre-game speech to the AFC team:
“You can never get moments back. It’s never about the individual. It’s about your moment being the hope for somebody that will never, ever have the opportunity to ever do this,” Lewis said. “That’s why every time I strapped on my pads – whether it’s Pro Bowl, practice, whatever it is – I have to give 110 percent every time. Because somebody’s watching me. That’s a fact.
“The harsh reality is pain exists everywhere we go in this world right now. Sometimes we’re the only light that people get. People who sit in hospitals with cancer, they don’t get opportunities like this, baby boys. That’s why you can’t be soft.”
Hmmm….maybe a few guys in the locker room took that message to heart?