Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (left) celebrates his interception in Sunday's Pro Bowl with teammate Tim Jennings of the Bears. Peterson's Team Sanders lost to Team Rice, 22-21.
Deion Sanders still talks a big game, but the gray beard he sported during the Pro Bowl emphasized that his playing days are long gone.
However, as coach of one of the teams, Sanders made sure to grab the player who is closest to his modern-day equivalent. The Hall of Fame cornerback made Patrick Peterson the first defensive player selected in Wednesday's portion of the fantasy Pro Bowl draft, and on Sunday the protégé made some primetime plays of his own.
Peterson, the Cardinals' third-year cornerback who gets plenty of comparisons to Sanders for his high-end talent and versatility, had a banner day in his third Pro Bowl appearance. He broke up a potential touchdown pass intended for Bears
receiver Alshon Jeffery early in the second quarter, then intercepted Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers a few minutes later.
Peterson wears No. 21 like Sanders, and paid homage following the pick by performing Sanders' signature celebration dance.
"Twenty-one reasons!" Sanders yelled to Peterson following the interception: "They know they can't try you, baby! They can't try you like that."
Peterson registered one tackle in the game as well, pulling down Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon in the second quarter for only a one-yard gain.
He was one of four Cardinals who played in the Pro Bowl, in which Team Rice, coached by Jerry Rice, defeated Team Sanders, 22-21, on a touchdown and two-point conversion with 43 seconds left.
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was targeted for a touchdown late in the first quarter, but Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis deflected the pass by Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Chiefs safety Eric Berry picked it off. Rivers tried to find Fitzgerald with a pass in the third quarter but the throw was behind him and fell incomplete. He finished without a reception on four targets.
Peterson and Fitzgerald matched up for a play late in the fourth quarter, but the pass did not go their way.
Special team gunner Justin Bethel performed well in his first Pro Bowl, making two nice tackles on punts. Linebacker John Abraham just missed a fourth quarter sack on Nick Foles, although teammate Jason Hatcher of the Cowboys brought down the Eagles quarterback moments later. Abraham finished with a tackle.
Foles was named offensive MVP while Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson was the defensive MVP. Fitzgerald, Bethel and Abraham earned $53,000 for winning with Team Rice. Peterson made $26,000 as part of the losing team.