"What'cha gonna do brother?"

As you already know, real NFL referees will make their triumphant return tonight in Baltimore when the Ravens take on the Cleveland Browns. That’s right folks; it’s the most anticipated game of the entire season! OLD BROWNS VS. NEW BROWNS! THE DOG POUND VS. A BUNCH OF BIRDS FROM AN EDGAR ALLEN POE POEM!

Am I overselling it just a bit? Yeah? Well the truth is, I don’t really care about this game, but it’s the one that Archi Zuber and I will be simulating. As was suggested last week, we will be extending the lengths of the quarters (nine minutes instead of seven), and we’ve decided to set the skill level to “pro”. All-Madden defense just seems to smother any offense, no matter how many weapons they have at their disposal.

First Half Notes

  • “This is the ‘Lee Carvello’s putting challenge’ of Madden games”- Zubes
  • Brandon Weeden started out the game by throwing three straight receptions and two first downs, this was already the greatest Madden simulation we’ve ever watched.
  • For as good as Weeden was in the first half, Richardson was garbage. He just couldn’t find the holes (HI-YO!).
  • Because Weeden was so successful early, and since that’s never part of the Browns’ plan, the virtual coaches decided to run the ball for three straight plays. They hated the idea of getting a positive reputation, and decided they would rather kill all of their drives.
  • Ray Rice was primarily used as a receiver in the first quarter, as Joe Flacco used three short play-action passes for first downs during the Ravens’ first two possessions.
  • The Browns hit a field goal with under a minute to go in the first quarter. They led 3-0 after one.
  • The second quarter was incredible!
  • Within the first minute, Flacco got absolutely demolished by Frostee Rucker (what a name!), which caused “Joey Flaccid” to fumble the ball! Rucker recovered!
  • After a Browns drive was destroyed by Richardson cutting away from the holes, Flacco takes over and drives the Ravens inside the Browns’ 20. He immediately destroys the goodwill he’s earned by throwing a pick to Sheldon Brown.
  • On the ensuing drive, Weeden threw an absolute bomb to Josh Cribbs for a 75-yard TD!
  • “Right on Ed Reed’s dome!”- Zubes
  • At this point, Joey Flaccid had grown tired of being shown up by the definition of mediocrity, and on his next throw he hit Jacoby Jones for a 70 yard TD!
  • Where the hell did all of this offense come from?
  • The Browns led 10-7 at half-time.
  • Brandon Weeden was the Ogletree of the half.
  • “It’s gotta be the moustache”- Me (for some reason Weeden has a moustache in Madden)

Second Half Notes

  • Ray Rice was actually being used as a running back again, and he busted out three straight +10 yard runs early in the second half.
  • “He’s got all the right moves, he’s like Tom Cruise in that way”- Zubes in reference to Weeden, who had another strong drive derailed by a Trent Richardson fumble (he was crushed).
  • Late in the third quarter, the Ravens had their best drive of the game. They found the perfect mix of passing/running and Rice became the dominant back they needed him to be. After a couple of Rice first downs, Flacco completed a 25-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin. 14-10 Ravens.
  • In the strangest play of the game, Benjamin Watson caught a three-yard Weeden pass and just stood there like a statue. He waited patiently with the football for three whole seconds before getting obliterated by Ray Lewis (Lewis later claimed that “he didn’t see nothing”).
  • Early in the fourth quarter, Rice sparked another dominating drive, and the Ravens hit a field goal to take a seven point lead.
  • Weeden and the Browns would respond with another good drive of their own, but in the end they could only muster a field goal. The Browns’ running game continued to be invisible, and it was 17-13 Ravens.
  • “I’m actually happy to be here”- Zubes
  • The Browns would get another shot to take the lead with under two minutes to go. But instead of allowing Weeden to do his thing, they elected to run the ball three times in a row (no holes were found).
  • A Rice first down with under a minute to go seals the deal.
  • Final Score: Baltimore Ravens- 17, Cleveland Browns- 13

Final Stats

Ravens Browns
Score 17 13
Rushing Yards 123 49
Passing Yards 177 226
First Downs 13 12
Red Zone 0-0 2-2 (2FGs)
Time of Possession 18:31 17:29
3rd down conversions 6-11 4-12
4th down conversions 0-0 0-0

Comparables

Passing:

Joe Flacco: 14-16 for 201 yards, two touchdowns and one interception

Brandon Weeden: 20-27 for 234 yards and one touchdown

Rushing:

Ray Rice: 24 carries for 100 yards

Trent Richardson: 16 carries for 46 yards

Receiving:

Jacoby Jones: 2 receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown

Anquan Boldin: 3 receptions for 44 yards and a touchdown

Ray Rice: 4 receptions for 37 yards

Torrey Smith: 4 receptions for 35 yards

Josh Cribbs: 2 receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown

Benjamin Watson: 7 receptions for 42 yards

Greg Little: 6 receptions for 51 yards

Ogletree of the game: Ray Rice

Final Thoughts

This was easily the best Madden game we’ve simulated thus far, and it’s because we cranked down the difficulty and made the quarters longer. This actually resembled a real football game, and the initial pessimism of my opening paragraph has disappeared into a disfigured grin of satisfaction upon my face (I almost look like I’m leering like a pervert and I’ve been slapped by disgusted women three times in the past 20 minutes).

I wouldn’t count on Weeden, who was a finalist for “Ogletree of the game”, to be Cleveland’s best player during the real game, but he was head and shoulders above the rest of his virtual teammates. This should be terrifying for a team that is already 0-3 heading into tonight. Luckily for Brownies (Browners? I have no idea what Browns fans are called), not all of our simulations are staggeringly accurate.

That said, they’re probably going to get crushed tonight.

Three things I learned from this simulation:

  1. Trent Richardson has an aversion to holes (and is a drive killer).
  2. Virtual Joe Flacco is pretty similar to regular Joe Flacco (although far more efficient).
  3. Ray Rice is a bad-ass

*BONUS VIDEO* We finally witnessed a decent game!