New location, new rules, same destination for Dalvin Cook.
The 2022 NFL Pro Bowl was hosted Sunday at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, and five Vikings – Cook, Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson, Brian O'Neill and Harrison Smith – played for the NFC squad that fell 41-35 to the AFC.
Per usual, the NFL all-star game featured some off-the-wall stats and interesting scenarios.
The teams combined this year for a whopping nine turnovers (seven interceptions and two fumble recoveries) and three defensive touchdowns.
Bills receiver Stefon Diggs transitioned partway through the game to defensive back for the AFC squad, while his brother, Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs, moved to receiver. Fans likely did a double take watching Stefon guard Trevon on a few passes.
View photos of the Vikings during the 2022 Pro Bowl game in Las Vegas, Nev. at Allegiant Stadium.
Perhaps the most expected part of the afternoon? Seeing Cook in the end zone, of course.
With 2:36 remaining in the fourth quarter, Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray connected with Cook for a touchdown. The score gave the NFC a chance at a comeback that ultimately fell short.
In a pass-heavy game, Cook finished with just two carries for five yards. Jefferson recorded five catches for 46 yards, which came in second on the team behind Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans' 50 yards. Smith had three tackles, O'Neill broke up a near interception early in the game, and Cousins was 6-of-10 passing for 66 yards, a touchdown to 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk and one interception.
And while the Pro Bowl typically lacks the dynamic tackling and quarterback sacks of the regular- or postseason contests, it does offer a unique platform for testing out potential rule changes.
A big difference in Sunday's game was that after a team scored, it had the option of (1) giving the opponent the ball on its own 25-yard line, or (2) the scoring team can attempt a fourth-and-15 from its own 25-yard line. If successful, that team maintains possession of the ball. This particular rule was designed to test the potential alternative to onside kicks.
It's an attention-grabbing idea, but the sought-after effect wasn't fully felt in Vegas, as the AFC and NFC squads went 0-for-8 on fourth-and-15 attempts. Cousins' interception occurred on a fourth-and-15 attempt following the Juszczyk touchdown. The Vikings QB launched a deep pass to 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel, but it was picked off by Titans safety Kevin Byard. Attempts by other quarterbacks also were intercepted or simply landed incomplete.
View photos of Vikings players from the second day of practice at the 2022 Pro Bowl in Las Vegas, Nev. on Feb 5.
There also was the "spot and choose" rule, which was proposed last year by the Baltimore Ravens. If a team wins the coin toss – in regulation or overtime – it receives two options: (1) receive the ball and start on offense or (2) defer and choose where to spot the ball.
The caveat is as follows, though: If the winning team chooses to receive, then the other squad can dictate where the possession will start. If the team that wins the coin toss chooses ball placement, the other can elect to play offense or defense from that spot.
The goal of this rule change would be to add more strategy to the coin toss and tweak the current overtime rules, which against received criticism following the Chiefs defeat of the Bills in the AFC Divisional playoff game.
At kickoff, the NFC won the toss and elected to receive, and the AFC spotted the ball at the 15. The NFC's drive was cut short by a 45-yard pick-six by Colts linebacker Darius Leonard.
View photos of Vikings players from the second day of practice at the 2022 Pro Bowl in Las Vegas, Nev. on Feb 4.
To start the second half, the NFC spotted the ball at the 5. The field position was less-than-favorable, but the AFC squad executed a 95-yard drive capped with a touchdown by Raiders receiver Hunter Renfrow.
The Pro Bowl also test-ran a play clock that began at 35 seconds (rather than 40)). Also, an incomplete pass didn't automatically stop the clock – unless inside the final two minutes of the first half or final five minutes of the game.
While there's no guarantee any of these rule changes will be implemented into regular-season NFL games, Sunday's all-star matchup offered fans a fun glimpse of their favorite players – and of "maybe" modifications that could crop up down the road.