After a brutal showing last week, I came into last nights tourney a little more prepared. I actually had a chance to get a couple of games in this week and even had a nice victory over QC's Raiduhs in the process. Needless to say, I was feeling good about my chances and I was prepared to at least get out of the first round and not lose twice. So, here's how the evening went.
Round 1: Steelers vs. Falcons
My first round matchup ended being me vs. one of the hosts of the Sports Inferno, Mike Valenti, who also happened to be last weeks champ. During the course of the weekly tourney, we have been talking about getting a game in because, like us on here, he likes to play actual football when playing Madden. So, it was going to be an interesting matchup in the first round and we had the added bonus of playing on 2-minute quarters for this week's tournament.
(I'm the one in the red on the right playing Mike Valenti, Sports Inferno host)
I hate to say it, but there really isn't much to go into in this game. It was basically a defensive game while both of us were basically feeling each other's game out. That being said, the game didn't lack a little excitement here and here. After about 3 quarters of absolutely nothing happening for either team, I was able to get a bit of a spark from Chris Gardocki, of all people, in the 4th quarter. He was able to lay down a nice punt inside the Falcons 5 yard line while giving Michael Vick very little room to work. After a run play on first down that went nowhere, Valenti tries to throw the ball on 2 nd down. I brought the typical Steelers Zone Blitz from the left side and I was able to get to Vick in the End Zone for a Safety. On the ensuing possession I couldn't get much done while trying to run out the clock and I had to punt the ball away with ample time left for the Falcons to get into field goal range. After a not so good defensive series, the Falcons get within field goal range and have an opportunity to kick the game winning FG. Well, needless to say, the kick goes wide right and the Steelers dodge a huge bullet to get out of the first round this week. Final score 2-0. Phew!
I want to also add that this was probably one of the more enjoyable games that I've played thus far. I didn't have to worry about holes in the AI and I didn't have to worry about Bump ‘n Run and all out blitzes every play. It was mentioned after the 1 st quarter that the game was shaping up to be a classic, and in part it was. I just wish it didn't come down to a safety, that's kind of a weak way to win. But a win's a win and I had another game to play.
Round 2: Steelers vs. Eagles
After I was done with the Falcons game, I was immediately whisked away to play my Round 2 game. We actually got to play on 4 TV's this week, but one of them was a 13” TV resting on a karaoke TV stand and that was the one that my next game was on. I think it should be noted that of all the flat screen TV's that I've played on over at Malarkey's, the 13” standard TV was my favorite one to play on. On the flat panel ones, the controls don't seem to be as responsive and the game tends to lag a bit. I have no idea why that is, but that's just how it is. Anyway, back to the game.
I came out of the gate kicking the ball to start the game. Upon the return, Roderick Hood fumbled the ball and I recovered with excellent field position. After a couple of Duce Staley runs and Benny Robanger passes, we found ourselves finding the End Zone to take a 7-0 lead. On the next possession McNabb ends up throwing an INT to Deshea Townsend and the Steelers are on the move yet again with good field position. After a couple moderate gains by Staley and Robanger, we ended up with a Jeff Reed FG to go up 10-0. That's pretty much how the game stayed until I gave up a TD in the bottom half 4 th quarter to put the Eagles within arms reach of taking over the game. After the Eagles TD, they attempt the onside kick, which I recover, but the Eagles had a full rack of Time Out's and the Eagles defense tightened up in the second half. This is when the Eagles got a heavy dose of the Bus and Duce and, boy howdy, did they run hard. After barely getting a couple of First Downs, the Eagles were forced to use up their Time Outs and the game was basically over at the point.
On to the Semi's….
Semi-Finals: Steelers vs. Giants
I knew this game was going to be a mess before I even picked up the controller. The guy I was playing was the same guy who has done nothing but throw to the TE on flag routes every play. He was motivated to win the tournament this week because he was gearing up for the Madden Challenge and he was going to bust out his “real” team at Malarkey's, which is the Giants. I watched him play his first round game and let me say that it was rather classless. I mean, he was up huge in the 4 th quarter, like 28-0 or something like that, and he's calling Time Out's when his opponent has the ball because he was upset that this guy was still running plays trying to score points. WTF?? So, going into the game, I knew I had to deal with some crap, and I was sort of right. His substitutions were rather “unique” as he put his #2 TE at FB and his backup LT at #2 TE because, you know, they do that all the time in the NFL.
I start the game of receiving the ball and didn't really do a damn thing with it and I have to punt. On the Giants first possession the Steelers D came up large with a Troy Polamalu INT and Robanger and Co. were back on the field. Although, it wasn't all that great as I had to punt the ball yet again, but so far the game was still tied at 0-0 and there were signs of life for the Steelers. The Giants come back out and run nothing but hurry up offense and double TE sets and he runs the same flag routes to Burress and Shockey who are triple covered, yet they are still able to get some catches. He got to about my 20-yard line and I was able to stop him 3 straight plays, which brings up 4th and 10 in the second quarter. So, one would think that any true football gamer would sack up and kick the FG…..wrong! He goes back to his same flag route to a triple covered Shockey who comes down with the ball in the End Zone for a TD to make the score 7-0 G-Men. I was rather ticked off at the playcalling, but I wasn't out of the game. I got the ball back on the ensuing kickoff and Robanger hit Miller a couple times, C. Wilson a couple times, and Randle El a couple times while marching the the Steelers down for a TD just before halftime! Jeff Reed must've had the jitters, though, because he missed the PAT. Actually, I missed it because I was back on the flat screen TV with the lag and the kicking meter was slower on it, I don't get it, but that's what happened. Anyway, the G-men got the ball to start the Second Half and the rest is history. Hurry up offense, Flag routes, and catches in triple coverage. But he did start to run the ball with Barber with much success, but that was because he had an extra TE and an extra OT in the game because of his pre-game substitutions. Needless to say, I lost the game 21-6 and was just victimized by some more cheddar. That's fine, like I've said before, I would rather lose games playing real football than win games on holes in the AI. But the best part is the guy that beat me got his ass handed to him by the Vikings in the Finals. Heh.
So, there it is. Another week, another loss in the Semi's. One of these days I'm going to get past that point, but as long as the cheddar is being thrown around that place, the less likely I'm going to win. But it's not all about winning and losing, it's about respect and trying to find similar gamers like us out there that just enjoy matching wits on the gridiron. So far, there are a couple guys that I've seen that play a good game of football, so there is still some hope out there.