Thursday, September 22, 2011

Looking Ahead: Week Three

The second week of exciting Tecmo action is behind us, but the after effects are sure to linger for some time. Or, at least until the Indianapolis Colts are contracted during Week 5. Buffalo is in a four-way tie in its division, while the 49ers are looking up at a suddenly solid L.A. Rams squad. Meanwhile, the rest of the teams are only separated by a game or two but some standouts are on the rise. Philadelphia is being pulled along on the back of their work-horse QB Eagles, whereas the AFC West race will go down to the final week, when Christian Okoye pulls Howie Long on his back for 300 yards and 4 touchdowns.

The first group of early Sunday games will be a litmus test for some teams looking to pull out from the muck of the early-season logjam. The Rams face an important game in New Orleans, where they can rein in a convincing third win, or play beneath themselves and allow the 49ers a window at home against the flawed Vikings. Tecmo is famous for bashing in the hopes and dreams of early-season surprises, leaving them lying broken on the ground and forming the basis of a popular Q Lazzarus tune.

Don't underestimate the world-famous Seattle 'Black Hole' D
The Giants of New York look to get out from their winless ways in Chicago, against a Bears team whose confidence was tested in a loss to the lowly Buccaneers of Tampa Bay. During the week, Jim Harbaugh told the Chicago Tribune that "it's still early" and "we still have time to pull it together". One quote that was apparently left on the editing room floor, however, was a candid Harbaugh shouting "And tell Wayne Haddix that his sister left her purse on my night stand last night!"

Perhaps the marquee match-up would be the game of undefeated division leaders when Houston travels to Kansas City and the dangerous Arrowhead Stadium, where the chilly fall air will be sure to keep Warren Moon's passes from reaching international space station altitudes. It may be too early to tell who the early favorite is in the meeting of this blog's prediction of division winners, but we'll just say that if Lorenzo White is involved, the Oilers will be riding a quiet bus home.

In the night games, the Bills and Jets clash in a game that will hopefully give one team in the AFC a foothold in the division. And the foot that it will belong to is a size 12 custom-made Reebok worn by Thurman Thomas. The Cowboys face an early season test against the dominant Eagles in Philadelphia, putting the rest of the division on notice. While QB Eagles' 241 rushing yards to Troy Aikman's 0 look to tell the tale of the season so far, the fact that he has 6 more yards per attempt than Emmitt Smith tell the tale that the Dallas 'D' may be interested in reading, provided the stories are in book-on-tape format.

NBC's Football Night in America game on Sunday night will feature an AFC West showdown with the Broncos visiting Seattle to play the Dave Krieg-led Seahawks. Seattle has stormed out to a quiet 2-0 record, while Denver struggled with two teams that will end with a combined 8-24 record in the Bengals and Raiders. This could be another tight one for Denver, with John Elway riding his team like a pack of wild horses into a first-place tie with Seattle, or another blowout for Seattle featuring Derrick Fenner racking up tens of yards.

Canada: Thanks for the bacon, but you can have Rypien back
Monday Night Football will end our third exciting week with an appearance by a football team, the Washington Redskins. Phoenix will show up as well, but even Timm Rosenbach's forehead isn't big enough to hold the amount of yards Mark Rypien will rack up against their sieve-like defense. Speaking of Mark Rypien, putting up the kinds of numbers that he's doing will inevitably draw some sort of investigation, even if it is only done by me, and instead of Mark Rypien, the investigation will be on his daughter's Lingerie Football League photo sho---er, stats page.

Standings after the hump---er, jump.




Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Night Football: New York Giants vs. L.A. Rams

Tonight:Phil Simms vs Jim "Don't call me Chris!" Everett
I don't usually get surprised by things easily, but when I looked at this match-up and then immediately heard that the same two franchises were playing tonight on Actual Monday Night Football (2011 version), I have to admit I was a little taken aback. However, I shouldn't be surprised by too much lately after the events that transpired this week: a Buffalo loss, followed by a San Francisco loss, followed by a Tampa Bay win. While a win by the Rams over the Giants can't really be classified as an "upset", the fact that L.A. would be 2-0 and alone as a division leader, and the Giants would be in the bottom of the NFC East does say something about my abilities to pick unique simulated Tecmo seasons.

Quarter One
David Meggett is the kick returner today, and he takes the ball all the way to the Los Angeles 48-yard line. Apparently in 1991 they made you kick off from behind the goal post. Either way, Meggett is the early star with two hand-offs that net a total of 3 yards. However, from 3rd and 7, Meggett is entrusted to get the 7+ yards needed for a 1st down, and he nets 8 for what's called a successful third-down conversion. Not done with his vainglory, Meggett is the intended receiver for an 18-yard Phil Simms pass that is good for the first touchdown, capping a successful drive for the Giants of New York.

New York leads 7-0

Snagging the kick at his own 12-yard line, Los Angeles' own Gaston Green takes the ball out to the 22-yard line for quarterback Jim Everett, not to be confused with professional female tennis player and sack-avoiding Chris Evert. Everett shows off the arm he worked in the off-season for a 44-yard connection to 'Fast' Willie Anderson, and then rushes to the sideline to powerbomb Jim Rome through a table covered in empty Gatorade cups. As he's doing this, Curt Warner (the one who didn't win a Superbowl with the Rams) lumbers for a 15-yard gain due to the Giants' distraction. New York's defense quickly gets back to work, however, when they bat away an Everett pass and then sack him for a 9-yard loss. Coach John Robinson then calls for a deep pass, but when the ball is snapped, Everett squeals and lobs it to Cleveland Gary, who nets a total of 2 yards, leading the Rams to what is called a fourth-down situation. Mike Lansford is on to boot a field goal from 36 yards out to get Los Angeles on the board.

Hide your kids, hide your quarterbacks
New York leads 7-3

Meggett successfully gets the ball out to the Rams' 48 yard line once again, and the Giants have yet to call a play on their own end of the field. Despite this, a failed Meggett run and two Fred Strickland sacks eventually do push the Giants back into their own field, and Sean Landeta is on to boot the ball for a touchback.

Quarter Two
Gary and Warner both combine for a 9-yard effort, and on 3rd and 1 Warner is stuffed for no gain. Somewhere, irony aficionados are taking note of how Curt Warner ended his career as a grocery store bagger shortly after this game.

In Tecmo, you may only see this type of play
one out of every three snaps
Meggett disappoints fickle New Yorkers everywhere when he only gets the ball to the Giants' 34 yard line. While Stephen Baker's 10-yard catch is mildly impressive to some, most others will probably remember the Mark Ingram snag for a 56-yard catch-and-run to paydirt.

New York leads 14-3

The Pride of Los Angeles, Gaston Green, ducks and weaves to the Rams' 46-yard line to start the drive with just over 2 minutes remaining in the half. Everett shows off his scrambling abilities on the next play for a 4-yard gain, and then shows off his football-lobbing talents with a 50-yard pass to a 'Leaping' Willie Anderson to make a game of this contest.

New York leads 14-10

The Giants start at their own 48-yard line, to a small chorus of boos from the visiting crowd. Their ineptitude is never more apparent when they decide to hand the ball off to Ottis Anderson, but his ability to run for 30 yards is worthy of a few 'OOOOOOOO-TTIIIIIISSSSS' chants. With 48 seconds left, coach Ray Handley pulls out his trump card and calls another Ottis Anderson run. When that fails miserably, there is just enough time for Matt Bahr to get his name in the score book with a 26-yard chip shot heading into halftime.

New York leads 17-10

Halftime - Giants 17, Rams 10

Willie knows football
Quarter Three
Los Angeles' Native Son, Gaston Green, returns the kick from the goal line for a robust 38 yards. Warner is allowed a 20-yard run before Everett lobs it up to 'Trusty' Willie Anderson to quickly and delightfully tie this one up.

Score tied 17-17

A huge boot from Lansford is taken out of the end zone by Meggett, who lands a de facto touchback when he's tackled at the New York 20-yard line. Popular amongst fellow tow-heads, Phil Simms takes the field to nobody's notice. He further fades away into obscurity after a hand off to Anderson that loses 5 yards, despite an audible cheer from the Giants fans in attendance. This becomes clearer when, on the sidelines, Jeff Hostetler is caught knowingly flexing his buttocks. Even Los Angeles seems enamored with this semi-erotic gesture, and they allow Anderson to make up his loss and then some with a 25-yard scamper. Two plays and another 5-yard Anderson loss later, however, it's 3rd and 15. Although the situation doesn't sound promising, to Giants fans everywhere it's better than the 4th-and-20 they now face after a lateral pass to Anderson is picked for a loss of five.

Landeta, who'd been flexing his own buttocks on the sidelines, shows off the after-affects with a 60-yard punt for a touchback. Cleveland Gary, whom repeatedly swears that he's never been to Cleveland, gets a 12-yard run for some breathing room. Henry Ellard gets involved on the next play with a huge snag to flip the field at the Giants' 30 yard line. Two plays later and the Rams face a pivotal 3rd and 20 situation. Although a pitch to Warner gains only 9 yards, the quarter ends with Lansford warming up on the sidelines for a 50-yard boot.

The ever-popular Lansford pose, imitated by the likes of
Hulk Hogan and disco lovers
Quarter Four
The suspenseful wait is worth it all when Lansford puts the Rams in the lead for the first time in the game.

Los Angeles leads 20-17

With 4:26 left to go, New York starts at their own 13. Phil Simms comes out facing a long field ahead of him, but with the sure hands of Mark Ingram and Mark Bavaro at his disposal, he deserves the NFL Films music that will surely accompany this drive. It all starts with a Dave Meggett 18-yard run, followed up by a hustling Ottis Anderson for a huge 50-yarder that gets the Anaheim Coliseum's crew sharpening their daggers for the after-game gift. Although the Giants' offense is stalled on a Los Angeles blitz, Anderson does a tight-rope run along the sidelines for the remaining 23 yards to a touchdown.

New York leads 24-20

The Vegas-sounding 'Disappearing Holohan' was always
a controversial figure in professional sports
With under three minutes to go, it would seem that the Rams have all the time they need so long as Matt Bahr only kicks it 50 yards. And so that he does, and Los Angeles starts the most important drive of their young season at their own 42 down by four. Gary takes two straight pitches, and on the second one he's got a wide open field in front of him for a 27-yard gain. Warner gets some more work in before his shift at Hornbacher's, and then Everett takes to the air once more with a 23-yard toss to Notre Dame-alum Pete Holohan. With just over a minute to go, the Rams suddenly find themselves at the New York 2-yard line and an all-important victory in their sights. They make the situation that much-more unbelievable when they give it to Warner for the go-ahead touchdown.

Los Angeles leads 27-24

A beautiful Lansford boot gets the Giants stuffed at their own 19 with just 53 seconds left to win or tie it up. With all of the world watching, Mike Wilcher cashes in his fifteen minutes with a huge 10-yard sack to put the Giants at their own 9 and forcing them to take their final time-out. The next play is out of the shotgun, with Simms standing in the shadow of his own goal post. His daring, and later-deemed 'controversial' pitch to Meggett somehow proves fruitful, as he gains 47 yards to the Los Angeles 44-yard line. With only 11 seconds to go and needing to get into Bahr range, Simms' dim-witted, and later-deemed 'Steve Walsh-like' re-hash of the same Meggett pitch only gets 2 yards and that's all she wrote from Los Angeles.

Final - Rams 27, Giants 24

It will take a lot of convincing, but I'll be hard-pressed to find a reason why tonight's actual MNF display of Giants v. Rams will be better than Tecmo's version they put on here. The Giants were strong at first, with good helpings of Ottis Anderson and long catch-and-run by Mark Ingram, while the Rams were their usual hapless but lovable selves, until they exploded in the second half. There were hardly any shades of Frank Reich here, nevertheless Jim Everett's efforts to bring the Rams from sure defeat to glorious victory is commendable, even though we're seeing him before his inevitable breakdown beginning in Week 6. It will be hard to put this entertaining week of Tecmo football behind us, but we'll forge through anyway in the hopes of seeing some more 'C'urt Warner-type heroics before season's end.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Football Night in America: New England vs. Cleveland

No, you can't see your family first, QB.
Stadium's THAT way
Tonight's game is a tale of two teams about to go in separate directions. New England is letting Steve Grogan keep a seat warm for eventual first draft pick in Drew Bledsoe, while Cleveland is still reeling from back-to-back losses in the AFC Championship and falling down fast. In the moment, however, both teams are at about as evenly stinky as Kevin Mack's jock and aren't fooling anyone into thinking they have a shot, even this early in the season. Even so, they must play on, and now that the Browns have their QB back, who apparently has healing abilities better than Wolverine, Mike Pagel will have more chances to try out some new headsets on the sidelines.

Quarter One
The Browns are the winners of the toss in this contest, and will start at the 39 yard line after a cute kick-off by Jason Staurovsky. Can they keep the streak alive of coin-toss winners in featured games? For the first time, I honestly have no idea. But even though Eric Metcalf takes three straight pitches for a total of only seven yards, I still think the probability of beating New England is present.

Come on ride the train, choo-choo ride!
It's New England's turn, and they take the punt for a touchback. During Steve Grogan's first appearance, he is promptly sacked for the first of most likely many times by Chris Pike. On his second appearance, he connects with George Adams for the first of most likely one time for a gain of 23. Grogan follows up his MVP-like pass with an even more MVP-like lob to a leaping Irving Fryar, who pulls down a pass and runs until he passes out for a 46 yard gain. Two plays later and it's 3rd and 6, and who else but George Adams runs around the top of the Cleveland defense for a 13-yard gain. On the next play, however, Chris Pike gets intimate with Grogan again for a loss of 5, and after the George Adams-led rushing attack fails in the next to plays, Jason Staurovsky is out to tack on the first three points of the game.

New England leads 3-0

Cleveland starts their next promising drive at the 30, and it gets decisively less promising when Ed Reynolds sacks QB Browns for a loss of 3. Already, the chants of 'PAGEL! PAGEL!' are incredibly audible from the Cleveland crowd. Browns decides to show off how fickle fandom can be when he dumps it off to Ozzie Newsome who sheds a few defenders and runs for a total gain of 50 yards as the quarter ends.

Quarter Two
Browns' next pass falls hopelessly incomplete. The Pagel chants immediately start up again, and so Browns uses that force to channel his inner Bernie Kosar and runs for a gain of 21 yards to the New England two-yard line. When he pitches it to Metcalf for a 2-yd touchdown run, the Cleveland fans collectively take the world record for most eggs on the most faces.

Cleveland leads 7-3

If you can spot the ball, you get a complimentary
"I <3 Lurching" t-shirt
New England gets good field position at their own 40 yard line, but it's even better for Cleveland when they force an Adams fumble during a blitz, and Mike Johnson scoops it up to run all the way back for a sweet Browns defensive TD.

Cleveland leads 14-3

Due to the NFL's attempts at being 'fair', the Patriots get another chance to score and start at their own 34-yard line. They soon face a 3rd and 9 situation after Adams takes two pitches for a half yard each, and Grogan uses his veteran-led brain to throw it to his best receiver, Irving Fryar, for another 50 yard gain. Chris Pike becomes enraged by this turn of events, and feeds some turf to Grogan on the next play. After a pass block, it's 3rd and 19. The Patriots' third-down success so far leads one to believe they're only one play from getting back in the game, but when that one play is an incompletion to Fryar, Staurovsky is on to kick a meaningless 43-yarder.

Cleveland leads 14-6

With 44 seconds left, a shockingly productive 36-yard connection to Ozzie Newsome gets the Browns into Greg Kauric position with time winding down. He nails a 43-yarder through the uprights to get the three points back heading into halftime.

Cleveland leads 17-6

Halftime - Browns 14, Patriots 6

Quarter Three
Sammy Martin, perhaps the bravest man on the Patriots roster, takes the kick out from the end zone and attempts to score. His attempt comes up just 87 yards short. During the inevitable 3rd and 9 situation, Grogan decides to skip the whole time-consuming punt process and lobs a ball over the head of Hart Lee Dykes right into the hands of highly-excitable strong safety Felix Wright, who immediately jumps out of bounds.

Guys in pink do it better
QB Browns gets the drive going quickly with a 14 yard scamper, and Richard Harvey isn't too pleased as he drops Browns for an 11-yard loss quickly thereafter. Still harboring some unhealthy pent-up rage, Harvey steamrolls the Cleveland front and eats up Browns for another 9 yard loss. When he gets his third sack in a row on 3rd and 30, however, people are starting to wonder if Harvey has some lingering resentment issues about having to wear pink on national television. Needless to say, the Browns are out of field goal range and on 4th and 42 are forced to punt it back to the New England Harveys.

Fryar pulls in the punt and gets out to the New England 28 yard line. While Marvin Allen loses three yards on first down, George Adams promptly gets them back. Grogan decides he wants in on the fun and runs for 3 yards himself, and then belatedly learns that they actually needed ten for the first down.

Cleveland starts at their own 25 after a Reggie Langhorne return, and QB Browns decides to celebrate the fact that Richard Harvey is on the sidelines of this play by lobbing up an interception to Fred Marion. Luckily for Browns, the interception is a wash when Marion fumbles it, although the Patriots pick it back up and Grogan gets the field back at the Browns 42-yard line.

A 12-yard scamper by Grogan is the final nail in this forgettable third quarter of play.

Quarter Four
A Grogan interception right at the goal line promptly puts a deservingly quiet end to a promising drive that started in Cleveland territory.

Could this pick have been thwarted if Metcalf wasn't
dozing behind the line of scrimmage? We may never know.
Harvey gets his fourth sack of the game on first down, but while he's still celebrating and flexing his muscles for the waterboy on the sidelines, Kevin Mack takes a run up the middle for a gain of 33 yards into Patriots territory. Metcalf takes the next play over the top of the New England defense for another 10-yard gain, and just when it seems the Browns are preparing to put this one away, Browns kills the weird mixture of excitement and boredom by throwing the fourth-combined (third-official) pick of the game, and second consecutive by Fred Marion.

Against the pleas and sadly desperate begging of the New England defense, Grogan takes the field with 3:29 remaining in the game. He has to shake off a David Grayson sack for a 6-yard loss, but apparently couldn't shake his color-blindness when he threw it to a wide open Felix Wright to keep the Interception Bowl's blood pumping as if Mike Ditka's own bratwurst-fed heart was pumping it.

The next three plays include a Browns incompletion, a Garin Veris sack, and another incompletion. Although the lack of an interception is a success for Cleveland's offense, it's a disappointment in the hearts of all stat-heads.

The only thing in front of Irving is the pink X he wasn't
standing on
The Patriots get another dying star of a chance at their own 20 after a touchback, with 1:47 remaining. The star is all but extinguished and folding into a black hole when Irving Fryar can't grab a pass with a wide open field in front of him. Adams is strangely involved in picking up a 6 yard gain, and though it's a bold move by the offensive coordinator, it still must be recorded as the first positive yardage for New England this quarter. Mike Johnson, who hasn't been spotted since wearing an oxygen mask on the sideline, erases that positive yardage with a sack. On 4th and 10 from their own 20-yard line, the Grogan-led Patriots are forced to go for it. The drive comes to a mournful end when Adams lets the ball bounce off his future unretired number of 33.

The Browns are now in prime position to score the first points of the half and put a loud exclamation point on their flawed but still dominant performance over the Patriots on a national stage. Instead, with 31 seconds left, the ever-humble QB Browns hands off to Kevin Mack three straight times, despite the Patriots knack for blitzing on three straight plays. Time expires, and so does my patience for watching not just any game, but a freaking Tecmo game where a team doesn't even score one measly point in two quarters of play.

Any MAN player would have their playing rights revoked for a screen print like this
Final: Browns 17, Patriots 6

If your mouth froths at displays of defensive dominance, you may have actually been of the minority that enjoyed this water-boarding level of torture. The Patriots failed to score a touchdown, and Grogan led the team with an astonishingly bad 14 yards of rushing, all the while lobbing up three more interceptions than touchdowns. A returning QB Browns was less than sharp with two picks of his own (despite one being negated on a fumble) and matching Grogan with his completion percentage. The Cleveland defense accounted for nearly half of their overall points, while Richard Harvey accounted for nearly half of New England's positive yardage with 4 sacks. I don't know that I can promise you, my faithful readers, that I will avoid my curiosity and keep from stepping into another snake pit like this game, but if I do you have to understand that even I can't always predict the suckitude of some of Tecmo's bizarre COM-COM simulated games.