Brooks shows he still has game with MVP outing
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By Kyle Sakamoto
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Kyle Sakamoto
Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks has made the Pro Bowl in nine of his 11 NFL seasons, and he has a message for those who think he's slowing down.
Brooks picked off Kansas City's Trent Green and sprinted 59 yards for a go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter to help the NFC beat the AFC, 23-17, yesterday at Aloha Stadium.
On the return, he started down the right side and cut back near the 30.
"For anybody who thought I lost a step, I hope I showed them," Brooks said.
Brooks said his teammates were in man coverage and he was "free help."
"I saw the tight end (San Diego's Antonio Gates) on the bootleg and to be honest I don't think Trent ever saw me," he said. "I just went with the tight end and thank God I stepped up and caught it."
Brooks, who also had two tackles, won the Dan McGuire Player of the Game Award and a new Cadillac Escalade EXT.
He'll also be going home with souvenirs.
Brooks traded some of his helmets for those of Peyton Manning (Indianapolis Colts), Lofa Tatupu (Seattle Seahawks) and John Lynch (Tampa Bay).
"Going up in my collection with all my other stuff," Brooks said.
Brooks' interception return was one of many defensive highlights in the game.
The teams combined for six interceptions and four lost fumbles. The NFC scored 17 points off its six forced turnovers (four were interceptions)
"We have a good defensive team," Brooks said. "You have a good group of guys who made the team defensively so I wasn't surprised we went out there and played well."
The defenses were helped out by rain at the start of the game and the offenses' lack of timing.
"It's easier to get 11 guys on the same page and not having to worry about hanging on to the ball," said Tatupu, who led the NFC with six tackles. "On defense, above all, you got to love to run and hit."
The five first-half interceptions were returned for a combined 206 yards. The combined total offense for both teams at the half was 305 yards.
There were some no-blitzing and defensive positioning rules designed to help the offenses, but the defenses clearly dominated.
"In this game there are so many rules favoring the offense," Brooks said. "To see a little defense being played is a good thing."
One of the more innovative interception returns was turned in by the NFC late in the first half.
Dallas Cowboys safety Roy Williams intercepted Manning at the NFC 12, and Williams ran down the left sideline 11 yards before lateraling to Atlanta Falcons cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who advanced the ball another 57 yards to the 20.
Hall, who finished with five tackles, said the NFC was motivated by the $40,000 checks given to each member of the winning team.
"The whole week we were saying '40 grand' on three," Hall said of when the team broke huddles. "It feels good to come out with the win."
Reach Kyle Sakamoto at firstname.lastname@example.org.