Bengals WR A.J. Green and LB Vontaze Burfict have been voted to this season’s Pro Bowl game, the NFL announced today. The game will be played Sun., Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu and will be televised nationally by NBC.
For the first time this year, the Pro Bowl will be “unconferenced.” Instead of the AFC vs. NFC matchup that was the format since the 1970 season, players were selected without regard to conference in voting by fans, coaches and players. Players will be assigned to opposing teams during the first-ever Pro Bowl Draft on NFL Network on Wed., Jan. 22 at 8 p.m. ET. The teams will be known as Team Rice and Team Sanders, after Hall of Fame players Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders, who will serve as alumni team captains and head the draft selection process for each of their squads.
Green, a third-year player, has been voted to the Pro Bowl for the third time. Burfict, a second-year pro who joined the Bengals last year as an undrafted free agent, is on the Pro Bowl roster for the first time.
“It’s a great honor for both our guys, and it’s especially great for Vontaze,” said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. “Everyone knows what an exceptional player A.J. continues to be, and we kind of expect him to be in the game, but it’s very gratifying to see Vontaze recognized for the fine season he’s had.”
Entering Sunday’s regular season finale vs. Baltimore, Green has 94 receptions for 1365 yards and 10 touchdowns. With 76 receiving yards against the Ravens, he would surpass Chad Johnson’s club record of 1440 yards in a season, set in 2007.
Green has set Bengals records this season for most 100-yard receiving games (six) and most consecutive 100-yard receiving games (five, in Games 6-10).
Burfict is the first Bengals LB to make the Pro Bowl since 1976, when Jim LeClair earned his one trip as a Bengal. The only other Bengals LB in the club’s all-star history is Bill Bergey, who was selected for the 1969 American Football League All-Star game.
Burfict led the Bengals in tackles by a wide margin as a rookie last year, and this year his lead is even greater. In statistics compiled by the coaching staff, he has 188 tackles, 85 more than second-place Rey Maualuga (103). His solo tackle total of 128 is more than twice the total of Maualuga (second with 61).
Burfict also leads the Bengals front seven in passes defensed (10), ranked third on the team. He’s tied for the team lead in tackles-for-loss on rushing plays (seven), and he has three sacks, an interception, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He scored a touchdown on a forced fumble and return on Nov. 17 vs. Cleveland.
Two Bengals players were voted as alternates. Andrew Whitworth was voted a third alternate at OT, and Andy Dalton a seventh alternate at QB.
Alternates are selected for the Pro Bowl when roster replacements are needed due to injuries or other reasons. This year’s Pro Bowl will again be played a week in advance of the Super Bowl, so Pro Bowl selections from the two Super Bowl teams will be replaced from the alternates’ ranks.
The last Bengals WR to make the Pro Bowl before Green was Chad Johnson, who earned his sixth trip in the 2009 season. Other Bengals WRs in the Pro Bowl, with their total number of selections, have been Isaac Curtis (four), Carl Pickens (two), Eddie Brown (one), T.J. Houshmandzadeh (one) and Chip Myers (one).