Our handicap this week comes courtesy of the 49ers organization. I figured if they actually are going to try to win with Blaine Gabbert, then so will I. This decision has led to me almost breaking a controller.
It's going to happen. A Madden game above all else is going to make me break a controller in frustration.
The Falcons received and then proceeded to grind down the field with all sorts of offensive tricks. Devonta Freeman not only got out of blitzes and run stops, but would continually break tackles and juke around the line to get nice gains. Yes, the Falcons are one of those teams. By the time the 3rd quarter rolled around, I managed three picks from Blaine Gabbert and enough to make it 14-0. Reset.
On the second play, history repeated itself with a pick six to Navarro Bowman.
"Great!" I said. " This might be an easy victory."
No. Despite lining up in zone/man coverage and not blitzing much, Julio Jones made more catches wide open than probably humanly possible and managed a score to close out the first quarter. After that, I managed to grind the half to 2 seconds and prepare a field goal.
That the game promptly shanked for me.
From there, the Falcons kicked again, and then faked a punt on 4th and 8. While I'd commend the genius of the playcall, it's pretty amusing how 49er defenders just fall over and let the runner run right over them, or leap. Come to think of it, that punt return run was done right up the middle.
The other great Madden logic? The Atlanta Falcons offense is built on stumbling. For 10 yards. That's right, you can hit even Matt Ryan and he'll stumble and stay upright for at least 8 yards to pick up a first down.
After the game helped me shank another 2 yard field goal (really, the field goal mechanics in this game are worse than the 49ers O-line), I reset again.
This attempt was started with a much less good sign. After possibly, maybe, stunting the Falcons offense to a 3 and out, they ran it on 3rd and inches. And Devonta Freeman somehow got all the way around everything to pick up 7 yards.
After getting the ball back, I managed to take the team to the 50 yard line. Then three times, I ran a pass play. Three times, Anquan Boldin was open. Three times, the ball would sail right into his hands. And three times, the corner/safety nearby would run into him.
And three times, I've reset this stupid game.
Two interceptions in two minutes from balls that were magnetized to Falcon defenders not even near the person I was throwing to made an early reset. That's all. Oh and somehow Falcon defenders were able to run around the line and tag Carlos Hyde from behind. Our O-Line is bad, but I don't think they are THAT bad.
The Madden rubber band fell apart on my fifth attempt. Despite the Falcons getting the early field goal, Blaine Gabbert was able to connect with Torrey Smith on 3rd and long during the following possession to have him run all the way into the endzone.
Upon starting the second half, I ran the same play again (a Shotgun flood) and connected with Smith once more for another touchdown. Then, I just bled clock. Matt Ryan broke everything down and gifted two interceptions to Antoine Bethea, but was unable to come back to even the red zone again . At 14-3, the Niners are still undefeated.
And I've lost 4 hours of my life trying to do it this week.
Outside of the two pass plays, the Falcons defense left me with little open targets. Somehow EVERYONE was covered. I put this more on the game than the actual defense. Even the second Torrey Smith touchdown probably should have been picked off.
The one thing the Falcons D did struggle against was the counter. I ran Carlos Hyde in the counter for massive gains, though that only worked for so long before the O-line simply broke down and I couldn't do anymore.
Regardless, this was more infuriating than the Rams last week. It wasn't bad play, it was mostly the game sabotaging me with ridiculous actions by the AI. In any case, I get a week off of this, and it's well deserved. I'm scared to think how the simulation will turn out.