Rivers, selected to his fourth-career Pro Bowl, threw for a game-high 190 yards, completing 11 of his 19 passes Sunday. His 27-yard touchdown to Gates with nine seconds left in the first half helped the AFC enter halftime tied, 28-28.
“You get out here and you get to freelance a little bit. Me and Gates kind of drew that one up in the dirt,” Rivers said. “A lot better than last year. Any time you win it’s good.”
Gates (three catches, 67 yards) and Jackson (four catches, 64 yards) were the second and third-leading receivers for the record-setting AFC squad. The NFC scored 55 points in 2003 and 2010.
Marshall caught a Pro Bowl record four touchdowns, including a 29-yard double move on a throw by Rivers.
The intensity increased as the AFC led, 38-35, into the fourth quarter as the teams began jostling for the win. Weddle stuck Tony Gonzalez in the back with a solid hit after the Chargers helped the conference to a 17-point lead.
“I was playing hard,” Weddle said. “I can’t really afford to go slow, so let them adjust to me.”
After returning a Newton overthrow 63 yards in the third quarter to set up a Sebastian Janikowski field goal that gave the AFC its first lead at 31-28, Weddle again snatched a sailing Newton pass four plays after the hit on Gonzalez.
Weddle made it to the AFC 40-yard line before getting dropped, but pitched the ball to Derrick Johnson. The Chiefs linebacker finished the last 60 yards for the record-setting touchdown.
“We got the win. That’s the most important thing,” Weddle said. “(I) made some plays out there and helped the team win. Oh man, I was trying (to score). Definitely trying. Luckily we got one in the end zone with D.J. and that’s all that matters.”
“It was fun while it lasted. I got a couple texts from my trainers and everybody telling me I better chill out on special teams or I’m going to be put on it next year,” Mathews said with a smile. “It was just fun running down there doing what I could. I knew I wasn’t going to get that many reps in the game, but I just tried to make the best out of it.”
Mathews, one of five Chargers on the AFC roster, was a late addition after Ray Rice (injury) pulled out. San Diego’s second-year running back got a call from his mother Jan. 22 informing him of his inclusion, which he doubted at first until his agent confirmed it. Two days later, he was flying to Hawaii.
“You’ve just got to feel it out at first,” Mathews said of the Pro Bowl tempo. “You don’t want to go out there just kind of jogging around because you’re going to get hit. You’ve got to kind of go fast.
“It was fun being out there with the best of the best, but hopefully it ain’t my last.”
Each AFC player earned a record $50,000 for the win, while NFC players received $25,000.