IRVING, Texas – Spurred by a late-game drive by Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan, Team Irvin – coached by Jason Garrett and the rest of the Dallas Cowboys' coaching staff – pulled out a 32-28 win in the 2015 Pro Bowl on Sunday night.
Seven Cowboys players took the field in this year's version of the NFL all-star game, with six of them playing for Garrett and team captain Michael Irvin. Long snapper L.P. Ladouceur was the only Cowboy player to play for the team captained by Cris Carter and coached by John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens' coaching staff.
Ryan entered halfway through the game's third quarter with Team Irvin trailing, 28-19, and promptly led his offense to 13 unanswered points. The game-winning drive began at Ryan's own 30-yard line with eight minutes remaining in the game and culminated with a one-yard touchdown pass to Saints tight end Jimmy Graham on a 4th-and-1 from the opposing one-yard line.
In a fitting nod to the Cowboys' 12-4 season, their three Pro Bowl offensive linemen headlined their team's representation from University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. Tyron Smith started the game at tackle for Team Irvin, playing mainly at right tackle opposite Cleveland's Joe Thomas.
Both Travis Frederick and Zack Martin entered the game in the second half and also experimented with new positions. Martin flipped from his usual right guard spot to left guard, while Frederick played at left guard with Nick Mangold of the New York Jets handling center duties.
Four of the Cowboys' Pro Bowlers – Frederick, Martin, Smith and Jason Witten – were on the field for Team Irvin's game-winning drive. Witten almost caught the game-winning score himself, as Ryan found him on a short outroute to the one-yard line, before he was pushed out of bounds.
The team's two highest-profile players played very limited roles in the win, however. Tony Romo got the start for Team Irvin in what was his fourth Pro Bowl appearance. He led the starting offense 61 yards on the game's first possession before settling for a field goal to make the score 3-0.
DeMarco Murray, making his second-consecutive Pro Bowl appearance, joined Romo in the Team Irvin backfield. He carried the ball three times for 18 yards and added a nine-yard reception on the opening possession.
Both players left the game after that first possession, with Romo completing four-of-six passes for 43 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions. Murray finished the night with his four touches for 27 all-purpose yards.
Witten finished his night with four receptions for 32 yards – two of them coming from Ryan, and the other two coming from Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Stafford, who replaced Romo in the first quarter, was named the game's Offensive MVP. He completed 15-of-25 passes for 316 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.
Most of the Cowboys' players will be grateful for Ryan and Stafford's big performances. As winners, each member of Team Irvin netted $55,000 for their night's work. Team Carter members received $27,000.
Images from the 2015 Pro Bowl Game.