NFC South: 2014 Pro Bowl

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Several Carolina Panthers made an impression in Sunday night's Pro Bowl.

And none made a bigger one than fullback Mike Tolbert, one of the least known of his six teammates who participated in the annual all-star game in Hawaii.

In case you missed it, Tolbert barreled over the right side for a 2-point conversion with 41 seconds remaining to give the team coached by Ron Rivera and the Carolina staff a 22-21 victory.

He then playfully mocked Cam Newton, a member of the opposing team, with the "Superman'' celebration the Carolina quarterback does after scoring touchdowns.

"I told Cam I was going to mess with him if I got in the end zone, so I had to," Tolbert told

Among those that couldn't stop Tolbert, known as the human bowling ball to his teammates because of his 5-foot-9, 245-pound frame, was linebacker Luke Kuechly.

Kuechly, who led the opposing team with 12 tackles, also went backwards in an earlier collision with Tolbert on a short first-down run.

"We kind of came to an agreement before the game that he would take a side and we would go peacefully in the night,'' Tolbert told the team's official website. "But he squared up on me, so I was like, 'OK, let's go,'

"He told me later his shoulder was hurt. I said, 'Please don't tell Coach.' ''

Kuechly is fine.

And nobody has to tell Rivera that Tolbert is one of the toughest players on a squad that finished the regular-season 12-4 and won the NFC South. He may be one of the least known of a backfield that includes DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, but when it comes time for a tough yard he's the go-to guy.

So when Rivera's team scored to pull within one on Sunday, there was little hesitation. It was fitting that the coach who earned the nickname "Riverboat Ron'' this season for his willingness to gamble gave the ball to one of his own.

“I’m not surprised by any means that Ron wasn’t going to go for the tie,'' Tolbert told the Charlotte Observer after the game. "They call him Riverboat Ron in Carolina for a reason.”

And they call Tolbert a human bowling ball for a reason, too.

Other notables for the Panthers:

Newton: It was a better Pro Bowl experience than he had after the 2011 season when he threw three interceptions in a losing effort. He completed 8 of 17 pass attempts for 95 yards and had a 1-yard touchdown on a quarterback sneak.

On a down note, he was sacked four times in the second quarter and threw an interception. Rivera couldn't be happy with that.

Kuechly: The middle linebacker once against proved why he is known as a tackling machine with 12. He also had a sack. Had his team won he surely would have been the most valuable player.

Greg Hardy: Carolina's sack leader with 15 had a sack in his first Pro Bowl experience. Next up for the defensive end is whether he will get the franchise tag from the Panthers, a long-term deal or enter free agency.

Brees, Graham connect in Pro Bowl win

January, 27, 2014
The New Orleans Saints' Pro Bowlers made the most out of their Hawaiian vacation on Sunday night when they wound up on the winning side of the NFL's annual all-star game.

All five Saints Pro Bowlers (quarterback Drew Brees, tight end Jimmy Graham, guards Jahri Evans and Ben Grubbs and defensive end Cameron Jordan) started for Team Rice, which came back in the final minute to beat Team Sanders, 22-21.

Brees threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Graham in the second quarter to help the cause. Brees floated up a jump ball for his go-to guy, and Graham went up in front of Miami Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes to snag it. Graham then finished with his trademark dunk over the goal post, even though San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle tried to contest it (who says these guys aren't trying?)

Earlier, however, Brees threw an interception in the end zone while targeting Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald. The pass was tipped by Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis and picked by Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry.

At least he wasn't alone. There was a total of six interceptions and eight turnovers in the game.

Brees left the game after his touchdown pass and finished 9-of-19 for 81 yards. Graham caught five passes for 51 yards. Jordan later added a sack against Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton for a 13-yard loss and got a hit on Newton that forced an incomplete pass.