Schaub leads AFC to victory with MVP performance

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. Texans quarterback Matt Schaub wasn't even on the initial Pro Bowl roster, but he proved that he belonged among the league's best with a sterling performance at Sun Life Stadium on Sunday.

Schaub, a second alternate-turned-AFC starter, won the 2010 Pro Bowl MVP award after leading the AFC to a 41-34 victory. In his first-career Pro Bowl, Schaub went 13-of-17 for 189 yards and two touchdowns and had a near-perfect passer rating of 151.3.

"It's a game you watch growing up as a kid and you wonder if you could ever be in," he said. "To actually be a part of it is incredible, but to be named MVP, it's special."

On a damp night in South Florida, Schaub got off to a red-hot start. He threw more touchdowns (two) than incompletions (one) in the AFC's first two series, giving his team a 14-3 lead. Schaub then went to the bench and didn't return until the fourth quarter, with the game tied at 34. He led a methodical 11-play, 76-yard drive for the game-winning score on his first series back.

"He is really accurate, very smart and just a talented player," said Chargers head coach Norv Turner, who coached the AFC squad this week. "We thought that coming out here, and he's been unbelievable. He is just an outstanding player."

Schaub's first touchdown pass was a 33-yarder to wide receiver Andre Johnson, his Texans teammate. It was the first touchdown for Johnson in four trips to the Pro Bowl.

{QUOTE}"That was something me and Matt were talking about before the game," Johnson said. "Coach Turner said on third down that he was going to throw me a pump-and-go, and Matt told me, 'I don't care who's over there, I'm going to throw you the ball.' Fortunately, (Philadelphia Eagles cornerback) Asante (Samuel) bit on it real hard, and it worked out for us."

Schaub's second touchdown went to Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall on a 23-yard pass. Johnson wound up catching three passes – all from Schaub – for 71 yards.

The league's leading receiver for the past two seasons, Johnson said he was happy for Schaub because he "doesn't get the recognition that he deserves."

"(He showed) that he's a very, very good quarterback, one of the top quarterbacks in the league," Johnson said. "He led the league in passing this year, and it speaks for itself what he's done out here today. He was an alternate, he was able to get in and he was able to go out and show people what he can do."

Schaub's performance led the way in a strong showing by each of the Texans' four Pro Bowlers, which was an all-time high for the eight-year-old franchise. Defensive end Mario Williams was dominant, recording a game-high two sacks and three quarterback hits. His hit on Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo late in the fourth quarter caused an interception that effectively clinched the game for the AFC.

Williams could have added one or two more sacks, too. On one play in the first quarter, he blew past New York Giants tackle David Diehl and had a clear path to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. But instead of going for the easy sack, Williams gave Rodgers a pass and allowed him time to throw.

"I fired a couple of warning shots early," Williams said. "I should have gone ahead and got him because it would look better right now. It was just (about) going out there, being loose and having fun."

In a game light on tackling, linebacker DeMeco Ryans recorded three solo tackles for the AFC. They all came on one drive in the first quarter.

"When you strap it on, I've got to go," Ryans said when asked if he had to remind himself to go easy on the NFC offensive players. "There's no such thing as slowing it down and taking it easy. When the completion is on, I've got to go full speed."

Those contributions and Schaub's MVP showing made it a feel-good Pro Bowl for the Texans, who finished 9-7 and one game short of the playoffs in 2009.

After what Schaub accomplished this season and in Sunday's game, he'll have plenty of positives to dwell on as as he embarks on his fourth offseason with the Texans.

"It's just a step in a positive direction for myself and my career and for our team," he said. "To have four guys for your team (in the Pro Bowl)… it says a lot about what we're doing down in Houston, that we're doing good things.

"When you come out here against all these great players and all this talent and you're able to play well, it gives you a lot of confidence."

Follow Nick Scurfield on Twitter at *twitter.com/NickScurfield or find him on the "I'm A Texan Club" at imatexan.com/profiles/Nick_Scurf/.*

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