Derek Carr

AFC rallies to win Pro Bowl, 24-23

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AFC rallies to win Pro Bowl, 24-23

ORLANDO, Fla. --- Delanie Walker held the ball in the end zone and waited for his teammates to celebrate.

They came from every direction: Left, right and even the bench.

The Tennessee Titans tight end caught two touchdown passes, including an 18-yarder with 1:31 remaining , and the AFC beat the NFC 24-23 in a rain-soaked Pro Bowl on Sunday.

Teammates mobbed him. Pittsburgh receiver Antonio Browns, Baltimore safety Eric Weddle, Jacksonville cornerback Jalen Ramsey and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin were among those who left the sideline to congratulate Walker.

"That's as real as it gets in football," Oakland quarterback Derek Carr said. "You always want to win, especially with money on the line."

The winning team got $64,000 each, double the losing team's share.

"You've got guys on the sidelines saying, `I need that money,'" Carr said.

Carr completed 11 of 15 passes for 115 yards and connected with Walker on a skinny post for the winning score.

Denver's Von Miller sealed the victory when he caused and recovered a fumble by Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff. Miller posed problems all afternoon for the NFC.

"I go all out all the time," Miller said.

Although the game was more two-hand touch than hard-nosed football, there were plenty of defensive gems.

Arizona's Patrick Peterson had two interceptions. Minnesota's Harrison Smith returned a pick for a score. And two players took exception to one aggressive takedown. Tennessee left tackle Taylor Lewan and Oakland guard Kelechi Osemele had words for New Orleans defensive end Cameron Jordan after he drilled Indianapolis tight end Jack Doyle.

None of those plays compared to Miller's game-clinching strip-sack.

"I knew Von was going to do it," Broncos teammate Aqib Talib said. "When it's clutch time, crunch time, that's what he does. We needed a play, and Von went and did what he does."

The AFC overcame a 17-point halftime deficit and four turnovers to win the annual all-star game.

Heavy downpours were partly to blame for the sloppiness.

The rain prompted some fans to leave Camping World Stadium and others to break out ponchos. It also caused players on both sidelines to scramble to protect cellphones.

Jordan, New Orleans running back Mark Ingram and others had their phones in hand during introductions, and dozens more could be seen using them on the sidelines early in the game. They shoved them in plastic bags as the rain started.

Each of the AFC quarterbacks - Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger, Kansas City's Alex Smith and Carr - threw interceptions. And Kansas City returner Tyreek Hill muffed a punt.

Carr made up for his mistake by completing a 12-yard pass to Miami's Jarvis Landry on a fourth-and-7 play in the waning minutes. He found Walker down the middle three plays later.

Walker was voted the offensive MVP, and Miller was the defensive MVP. Both got luxury cars to go along with trophies.

"He's a Super Bowl MVP and now a Pro Bowl MVP as well," Talib said of Miller. "Another accolade for him. The more accolades you get, the more people expect from you."

The NFC looked like it would coast to a victory early as two Minnesota Vikings made big plays a week earlier than they wanted (Super Bowl) and a week later than they needed (NFC championship game).

Adam Thielen had a touchdown reception on the opening drive, and Smith returned an interception 79 yards for a score as the NFC opened up a 20-3 lead at halftime.

But the NFC failed to hold onto the lead. Goff threw incomplete on two fourth-down passes late as Saints coach Sean Payton tried to keep drives alive and milk the clock.

That was the opening Carr, Walker and Miller needed.

"I think it makes it more exciting for the fans for us to put on a show like that and go down to the last minute and win the game," said Walker, who also caught a 4-yard TD pass from Smith in the third.

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How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

Ever since Derek Carr signed a five-year, $125 million extension with the Raiders to give him the highest average annual contract value in league history, some version of the same question has been posed over and over again. 

What does this mean for other quarterbacks looking for new deals? 

Despite the fact that Carr's average annual value surpasses the previous high set by Andrew Luck ($24.6 million), and despite the fact that Carr's contract provides him the security that alluded him while he was on his rookie contract, his recent haul may not mean much for the likes of Matthew Stafford, Kirk Cousins and other top-end quarterbacks.

They were already expecting monster paydays down the road that would hit (or eclipse) the $25 million range, and Carr's record-setting contract may not even serve as a suitable baseline for them, as ESPN's Dan Graziano lays out.

So if Carr's contract did little more for upper-echelon quarterbacks than confirm for them where the market was already headed, then does it mean anything for someone like Jimmy Garoppolo? 

Carr and Garoppolo were both second-round picks in 2014, but from that point, they've obviously taken very different roads as pros. Carr started 47 consecutive games in his first three years and by last season he had established himself as one of the most valuable players in the league. Garoppolo, by comparison, has started two games. 

Both players still hold loads of promise, but unless Garoppolo sees substantial playing time in 2017 and then hits the open market, he won't approach Carr's deal when his rookie contract is up.  

ESPN's Mike Reiss projected that a fair deal for Garoppolo on the open market might fall between the $19 million that was guaranteed to Chicago's Mike Glennon and Carr's contract, which includes $40 million fully guaranteed and $70 million in total guarantees, per NFL Media.

Perhaps something in the range of what Brock Osweiler received from the Texans after Osweiler started seven games for the Broncos in 2015 would be considered fair: four years, with $37 million guaranteed. Because Osweiler (before his deal or since) never seemed as polished as Garoppolo was in his two games as a starter in 2016, and because the salary cap continues to soar, the argument could be made that Garoppolo deserves something even richer. 

Though Garoppolo is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency following the 2017 season, there is a chance he doesn't get there quite that quickly. The Patriots could try to come to some kind of agreement with their backup quarterback on an extension that would keep him in New England, or they could place the franchise tag on him following the season. 

Either way, Garoppolo will get paid. But until he sees more time on the field, a deal that would pay him in the same range as his draft classmate will probably be out of reach.