- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Pro Bowl is in the books, and it was a relatively quiet one from a Patriots perspective.
The Patriots had three players participate -- left guard Logan Mankins, special teams captain Matthew Slater and kicker Stephen Gostkowski. Two others, quarterback Tom Brady and cornerback Aqib Talib, were original selections who didn't participate.
Mankins and Slater were original selections and were part of "Team Sanders" as they donned gray uniforms in the new non-conferenced format. Gostkowski, who was a replacement for Broncos kicker Matt Prater, was part of "Team Rice" (white jerseys).
Our biggest takeaway from a Patriots perspective?
Mankins has shaved his beard, which had generated notable momentum by the playoffs. No word on if that was a game-time decision.
He showed up a few times getting out in front on screen plays, touching down a defender after a lost fumble by running back Alfred Morris in the second quarter, and giving up a sack to Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus.
With no kickoffs in the game, Gostkowski was called upon for point-after attempts and clanged a 53-yard field goal off the right upright in the fourth quarter. We only saw Slater on the punt return and punt coverage units.
The new Pro Bowl format led to a more competitive game, with "Team Rice" winning 22-21.
Players on the winning team earn $53,000, while those on the losing side get $26,000.