Dalvin Cook finished the 2020 season with 17 total touchdowns, and he added another two scores during the NFL Pro Bowl: Madden 21 Edition Sunday afternoon.
The in-person Pro Bowl game was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the NFL continued to get creative. The league streamed the Madden all-star game, hosted by FOX's Charissa Thompson and Michael Strahan, on its social channels and allowed fans the chance to watch their favorite players in action.
The NFC team was controlled by Cardinals QB Kyler Murray (first quarter), NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace (second quarter), Seahawks S Jamal Adams (third quarter) and former NFL RB Marshawn Lynch (fourth quarter).
View photos of Vikings RB Dalvin Cook and WR Justin Jefferson who were announced to the 2021 Pro Bowl roster.
"I'm the oddball here; I turn left for a living," quipped Wallace.
On the controllers for the AFC were Texans QB Deshaun Watson (first quarter), former WR Keyshawn Johnson (second quarter), Titans RB Derrick Henry and rapper Snoop Dogg.
Murray – who used himself at quarterback – involved Vikings teammates Cook and Justin Jefferson early on in the game, converting on fourth-and-13 with a 23-yard pass to Jefferson.
Murray then handed off to Cook, who sprinted up the middle, dodged a defender and capped his run with a spin move for a 21-yard gain. On the next play, Cook ran it in for an NFC touchdown.
Watson played with Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, who connected with Chargers WR Keenan Allen for a touchdown that would have tied the game, but the AFC missed the extra point.
"I don't know how to do that kick," laughed Watson, who admitted he isn't a diehard Madden player.
Wallace opened the second quarter with an NFC touchdown by Murray to DeAndre Hopkins but proceeded to also miss the extra point. A fourth-down score by Seahawks receiver DK Metcalf put the NFC up 19-6, and the team continued to dominate under Wallace's control with an interception by Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
On the following play, Murray found Cook open in the end zone for his second touchdown of the day.
Jefferson's second catch occurred from Murray (via Lynch) in the fourth quarter.
Other highlights for the NFC included a touchdown catch by Lions TE T.J. Hockenson (via Adams), a Jalen Ramsey recovery of a Stefon Diggs fumble and interceptions by Adams and Chiefs S Tyrann Mathieu.
The NFC rolled to a 32-12 victory over the AFC, and Murray earned MVP honors for his performance both on the controller and in the video game.
Below are other highpoints of the NFL's virtual Pro Bowl week:
Jefferson gets cleats signed by Moss
Jefferson was one of just two rookies, joining Washington's Chase Young, to make this year's NFL Pro Bowl, and he received plenty of praise from his peers around the league.
"Justin Jefferson is a baller," said Packers receiver Davante Adams. "He went out and torched every defense this year."
In a two-hour NFL Pro Bowl Celebration aired by ESPN, studio hosts Randy Moss and Sam Ponder introduced all 88 Pro Bowlers from the 2020 season, including the Vikings phenom receiver following in Moss' footsteps.
"Normally when people start comparing people to Randy Moss, I say, 'Slow your roll,' " Ponder said. "But the numbers back it up this year with Justin Jefferson."
Jefferson, who racked up 88 catches for 1,400 yards, breaking Moss' team records with each mark, joined Ponder and Moss via videoconference.
Moss, who received five of his six career Pro Bowl nods while with the Vikings, asked Jefferson about his mindset coming in as a rookie, particularly during a season altered by the pandemic.
"The main focus was, 'Am I going to be that versatile receiver? Am I going to be able to play outside, play inside, get off the press?' So there were a lot of questions coming into the season, and especially me coming in and replacing Stefon Diggs, there was a lot of pressure on me," Jefferson said. "But I just really paid attention to myself. I wanted to focus on myself, wanted to be the best version of myself. I just put in the extra work, extra time, and I just came up with a great season."
Before Moss' interview with Jefferson wrapped up, Ponder revealed a surprise. She retrieved the pair of cleats that Jefferson had custom-painted with likenesses of himself and Moss for Minnesota's season finale in Detroit.
"You said you were trying to get them signed, right?" Ponder said. "Well, I like to make dreams come true."
As Moss added his signature to the toe of the yellow cleat, he told Jefferson the following:
"I seen you giving me some love, and I started smiling immediately. I said, 'Man, I've gotta sign 'em.' Since I've come in [the league] in 1998, there has not been a rookie since then [to put up those numbers], and when I say I'm happy – I'm happy for you, I'm happy for the Vikings organization. … Justin, I'm proud of you. My Rookie of the Year."
Cook receives high praise
Moss and Ponder went through each of the position groups featured in this year's Pro Bowl, and the Vikings Legend had some high praise for Cook.
The 25-year-old was one of three NFC running backs selected for the all-star game, joining Green Bay's Aaron Jones and New Orleans' Alvin Kamara. The AFC running backs chosen were Henry, Cleveland's Nick Chubb and Las Vegas' Josh Jacobs.
A highlight reel was shown for each player, and Moss showed some love for Minnesota when Cook hit the screen.
"I believe the running back position for years to come is in good hands," Moss said. "Dalvin Cook – ladies and gentlemen, have you ever seen a running back shot out of a cannon before? Well, there he is, No. 33 for the Minnesota Vikings making it to the Pro Bowl."
He added with a smile: "SKOOOOLLLL!"
Jefferson faces A.J. Brown in NFL Verzuz
For the first time ever, NFL teamed up with VERZUZ – the online series launched by Swizz Beatz and Timbaland – to bring fans "NFL Pro Bowl VERZUZ presented by Verizon."
The NFL social channels hosted four evenings of competitive career highlight battles between the following:
Justin Jefferson vs. A.J. Brown
DeAndre Hopkins vs. Jalen Ramsey
Myles Garrett vs. Cam Jordan
Budda Baker vs. Jamal Adams
Jefferson and Brown "competed" in highlights that included top sideline catches, best-dressed, route-running, college film, touchdown celebrations and more.
The pair of receivers also were joined for a portion of the video by special guests, comedians Ha Ha Davis and Desi Banks.
Although no "winner" was officially declared, there were plenty of laughs and good-natured trash talking along the way.
Moss recalls favorite Pro Bowl memory
Of his own six Pro Bowl appearances over a 15-season career, Moss was asked by Ponder to name his favorite all-star-game memory. He pointed to the Pro Bowl following his 1999 campaign.
In that Pro Bowl, which was played on Feb. 6, 2000, in Hawaii, Moss totaled nine catches for 212 yards and a touchdown en route to MVP honors. He also helped the NFC rout the AFC 51-31.
"I think there might have been a 'You got Moss'd' moment in this game, and there it is right there," Moss laughed, pointing to the replay of an impressive catch. "There it is, over Mr. Sam Madison! But hey, playing against some of the game's greatest players – some future Hall of Famers, some current Hall of Famers – I enjoyed this all-star game."