Jan/26/15 10:08 PM Filed in: Greg Olsen
Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen proved he deserved to be in the Pro Bowl after waiting eight years to get there.
Olsen caught a pair of touchdown passes and was the target for a potential game-winner on Sunday night at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
His first Pro Bowl catch was a 17-yard touchdown from Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck in the first quarter.
He added a 10-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter from New Orleans’ Drew Brees in which officials overturned their original ruling that both of his feet weren’t down in the end zone.
With less than a minute remaining, Olsen was the target of an Andy Dalton fourth-down pass near the end zone that fell short.
Olsen wasn’t on the winning team as teammate Luke Kuechly was in the 32-28 victory for Team Irvin over Team Carter. But he wasn’t complaining after catching three passes for 52 yards.
“Two touchdowns . . . the only thing that would’ve been better is win the game,” Olsen told the Charlotte Observer after the game. “But the whole week was just awesome, whether you win or lose. The whole week was amazing. It was an awesome opportunity to come out here.”
The game also was an example of why Olsen has had trouble getting noticed in the Pro Bowl voting. NFC South rival tight end Jimmy Graham of New Orleans also had two touchdown catches, including the game-winner with 3:10 remaining.
Graham is considered one of the top two tight ends in the NFL along with New England’s Rob Gronkowski. Prior to this season, Olsen also was overshadowed by NFC South tight end Tony Gonzalez, who retired after making his 14th Pro Bowl last season.
But Olsen showed there’s no doubt he has reached elite status by his performance in the game and with his season. He led the Panthers in receiving with a career-high 84 catches for 1,008 yards.
Kuechly also showed why he is one of the top linebackers in the league. In his second consecutive Pro Bowl appearance, he had seven tackles and called the defensive signals when he was on the field.
He also didn’t have any awkward moments against Olsen as he had in last year’s all-star game with teammate Mike Tolbert, who bowled past Kuechly’s side for the game-winning touchdown.
“He didn’t catch any on me, so we’re good,’’ Kuechly told the Observer, speaking of Olsen. “That’s all I was looking for. I was hoping they were going to throw one his way. I was going to try to get my hands on it. They didn’t do it. He caught two touchdowns, played well.”