The waiting is over, and those of you who have been desperately watching the CFL in a vain attempt to fill the football void in your otherwise empty lives finally have something to live for. It’s time to put away your Anthony Calvillo bobble-head, Flutie Flakes, and Pinball Clemons brand “ultra white” dentures, because real football is back*.
Tonight, the NFL regular season kicks off with an NFC divisional matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants. Many questions will be answered, and those answers will create more questions. Will the Giants suffer from a Super Bowl hangover? Can the Cowboys bounce back after a disappointing 8-8 season? Can Tony Romo avoid being sacked 178 times by the deadly pass rush of the Giants? Will Eli Manning continue to solidify himself as a top tier quarterback, while ultimately becoming the superior Manning? Has Romo finally learned how to properly wear a baseball hat?
I can’t answer all of these questions, but I can tell you who will win the game. No, I’m not a time traveling wizard, I don’t own a crystal ball, and I wasn’t given a copy of Gray’s Sports Almanac by an elderly Biff Tannen. I’ve got something better. I’ve got a copy of Madden 13.
My colleague Archi Zuber and I simulated tonight’s game (yeah, it was a two-person job…a TOUGH job), using seven-minute quarters with the difficulty set to All-Madden. The results were staggeringly accurate (or at least I assume they’ll be staggeringly accurate, because video games have never wronged me before. Except Dig Dug. That guy’s an asshole).
First Half Notes
- Jim Nantz and Phil Simms look terrifying, and are here to justify your fears of the upcoming zombie apocalypse. They’re also here to call a football game.
- Eli Manning was absolutely crushed by Sean Lee on the first snap of the game. This was definitely an omen.
- Kevin Ogletree (WR), Tony Romo (QB), Dan Bailey (K) and Cole Beasley (WR) are the only Cowboys that remembered there was football today.
- No one on the Giants remembered there was football today.
- Any time a high profile player made a decent play in the first quarter, they were immediately injured. Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant made a spectacular 18-yard catch (full extension, had to drag the toes to stay in bounds) and was injured on the next play. Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw busted out a 23-yard run and was promptly dummied on his next touch. In a reaction to this, every star player but Romo refused to participate in such a barbaric event (or at least it seemed that way). On a side note, Madden 13 really glosses over injuries. If this was a real NFL telecast we would have seen at least 138 angles pinpointing the exact moment Bryant’s ACL exploded.
- 6-0 for the Cowboys with one minute left in the first half in the most boring game in the history of football…of all time…ever! It was boring enough that Zubes and I considered going back downstairs to do real work instead of finishing this cushy gig of sitting on a comfortable couch while staring at a giant TV.
- With 45 seconds left in the half, Ogletree (!!!) hauled in a 40 yarder from Romo to give the Cowboys a 13-0 lead.
- The Cowboys lead the Giants 13-0 at halftime.
- Seemingly every Giants possession was a three-and-out, and they had one first down in the opening half.
- Eli Manning is putrid.
- Kevin Ogletree is a god.
Second Half Notes
- Cowboys’ running back DeMarco Murray decided he should probably earn that virtual paycheck, and he doubled his production on his first carry of the second half (11 whole yards).
- The quarterbacks refused to get rid of the ball, as Giants’ defensive end Jason Tuck (the only Giant who remembered there was football) sacked Romo on back-to-back plays.
- Bradshaw made his triumphant return from injury early in the second half. He proceeded to rush for -3 yards the rest of the game.
- Manning never attempted to throw the ball more than 10 yards in the third quarter, and always threw short on third down. He continued to be putrid.
- No one scored in the third quarter (although the Cowboys dominated possession); I reached for a belt of scotch that wasn’t there.
- Tuck continued to be the only Giant of note, and recorded his fourth sack of the game (forced fumble, Cowboys recovered).
- Ogletree’s monster game rolled right along; he made three straight catches that lead to huge yardage.
- Late in the fourth quarter, Murray ran up the middle for a four-yard touchdown that gave the Cowboys a 19-0 lead. Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett decided to go for the two-point conversion for some reason and failed. I prayed for the game to end.
- In true Manning fashion, the Giants quarterback had his best drive of the game with under two-minutes left. He stalled out on the 17-yard line and couldn’t find the end zone. It was that kind of game for brother Eli (putrid).
- The Cowboys won 19-0.
|Red Zone||2-2 (TD, FG)||0-1|
|Time of Possession||18:47||9:13|
|3rd down completions||3-9||2-10|
|4th down completions||1-1||0-1|
Eli Manning: 13-23 for 84 yards
Tony Romo: 15-19 for 252 yards and one touchdown
Ahmad Bradshaw: seven carries for 20 yards
DeMarco Murray: 18 carries for 59 yards and one touchdown
Victor Cruz: four receptions for 22 yards
Hakeem Nicks: three receptions for 17 yards
Kevin Ogletree: five receptions for 115 yards and one touchdown
Cole Beasley: six receptions for 92 yards
Remember earlier when I said that this was going to be a staggeringly accurate simulation? Well, I was incredibly wrong.
I’m not saying that the Cowboys won’t win tonight. I’m saying that it’s unlikely we’ll see a game where: the Giants don’t do a single thing offensively, neither team commits a single turnover, and there are no penalties called for the entire game. It was both the cleanest and most boring game in the history of virtual football.
The one player that hopes that this simulation comes to fruition is Kevin Ogletree. The unheralded Cowboys wide receiver did his best Michael Irvin impression, easily winning my player of the game award and a spot in my heart.
I was able to learn three things from this simulation:
- Eli Manning is the worst.
- Kevin Ogletree is the best.
- For the love of god, if you have a choice, play the game, don’t simulate it.
Props to Zubes for the title (the best thing about this post)
*I kid, please don’t kill me CFL fans.