The Cleveland Browns.
Let's put things in perspective: I haven't really had any huge problems with this game, even on a raised difficulty. Annoyances? Yes, but it's never been put me on a course to break a controller. That is, until I crossed paths with Matt Flynn and the Cleveland Browns. You know, the Matt Flynn that helped stomp Detroit in the final game of the Green Bay Packers 2011 regular season. As in, lost the starting job to a rookie Russell Wilson the following year, Matt Flynn. As in, demoted to third string on the Oakland Raiders in favor of Terrell Pryor, Matt Flynn. Yes, that Matt Flynn. And he's slinging it for the 3-9 Cleveland Browns in our franchise mode.
I had a fun handicap scheduled for this bad team. I rotated several players around and started Navarro Bowman at tight end, put Vance McDonald at fullback, even had Dylan Thompson starting. I got absolutely nowhere doing this. After seven or eight attempts at trying to do this with my retooled team and only scoring 3 points thanks to a deep Bowman pass, I reverted to the team I had been using for most of these articles, with Blaine Gabbert under center.
And even then, I have lost track of how many attempts it took me to beat the Browns. Instead of documenting my attempts and trying to make fun of the mechanics, I'm just going to show you why the Cleveland Browns are unstoppable.
1: Robert Turbin
362 yards on the season? Well, he's making up for that with 5-7 yards a clip here. I lost count of how many times he could weave through Cleveland's line and past 49er defenders to get gains of 15+. He also possesses the unique ability to run around the line for touchdowns. This isn't one or two games, he consistently can do all of these things.
2: Matt Flynn
Not only does this guy have deadly accuracy, and always complete a pass in traffic (as opposed to the 49ers dropping passes if someone so much as breathes on the receiver), he also has one of the best offensive lines in football history. Physics defying offensive lines. Offensive lines that don't need to hold because their blocking is just that good. Want proof? Here:
Yes, that is a defender with his BACK turned to the QB. I quickly tried to switch to him to take Flynn down, but that plucky Cleveland QB only holds the ball for a millisecond after the snap.
If that isn't bad enough, he's built like a running back, and even tougher to take down. Look at this:
Count them, four. FOUR San Francisco defenders to take down Matt Flynn during a scramble. No slide, no one hit and goes down. Stays up on initial contact and lets thre other 49er defenders smack him around.
Does he throw picks? Yes. Do they help? Not really. Which brings me to my third point:
3: The love of the fumble
Going into the Cleveland game, I had experienced three fumbles, give or take. In this game I was almost guaranteed one every attempt; each one more stranger than the last. The best was when incomplete passes turned into fumbles. These conveniently happened when I was within 10 yards with under two minutes in the half. Another favorite was when Robert Turbin fumbled the ball, it proceeded to bounce out and around a pack of 49ers, only to be scooped up again by an incoming and upright Turbin to go for another 15 yards.
By about attempt 10, I abandoned note taking and instead had criteria for quick reset: if the Niners were receiving and didn't score on the first possession or if the Browns went up 14-0, I was starting over. No way am I digging myself out of a hole and wasting 25 minutes of my life with potential failures.
The Winning Attempt:
So how did I finally beat the Cleveland Browns? Well after several hours across a few days, they just glitched up and stopped being good. It sure wasn't my playcalling. I went into the gun and ran floods (the shotgun version of a hail Mary) until something would stick. Being smart wasn't helping, so I just figured I'd channel my inner Seattle and try to get lucky. The Browns also (as I found out) are not the greatest against throws in the middle of the field. That's not to say I couldn't do it as much as I'd like; linebackers were happy to stand there and stick an arm out to swat the ball away. But since the defensive line returned to normal from brick wall, I actually could run Carlos Hyde for positive yardage. Once in awhile. For the most part though, I was left not getting much at all in terms of yardage.
The Browns, on the other hand had to settle for two field goals which, after my lone touchdown in the 4th quarter, seemed like plenty with 2:00 left in the entire game to snatch a win from me. After all, my vain attempts at 2nd and goal for the aforementioned touchdown to inch as close to the plane as possible without going over it and running the clock didn't work. So with 2 minutes and my clock management screwed, I prepared for the worst.
Then Matt Flynn threw a pick.
I was elated, not only did I snag a pick in the final minutes of the 4th quarter, Johnson had nothing but pastures to run through. I hit turbo and took off. The score was about to be 14-6, Niners win! I danced in my recliner. Then I realized exactly what that meant: A minute, all timeouts, and Matt Flynn.
I quickly steered Johnson out of bounds.
I fully believe the game's programming intended for me to run in the pick six. From there, we'd get the late game theatrics of amaze-sauce passes, a touchdown, a successful 2-point conversion and a deep throw to Josh Gordon. Yeah, no.
Of course, the time outs left me with around 45 seconds for the field goal, and if the Browns did do a miraculous pass for a TD, I'd lose regardless. This left me with a simple option: The prevent defense. I may never understand why that defense is used as much as it is, but that was enough to hold the Browns to get me my 10-6 win. After my win, I went to the fridge, like a boss, and got something to eat.
We have encountered the Madden rubber band. A mechanic just as ridiculous in Mario Kart as it is here. It's going to pull out all the stops, it's going to work against me in doing this undefeated attempt. Some may say it's been possessed by the NFL. It's only going to be worse next week when I get the Bengals. A team that I'm guessing is kinda...you know...good.
Vegas may open up odds on if Elpato breaks a controller against them next week. I've done the worst in video games and survived; The Grim Reaper from Castlevania, Level 6-2 from Ninja Gaiden, the Turbo Tunnel from Battletoads, Getting to level 5 in Super Ghouls and Ghosts, but the Browns in Madden 16 may have been the most frustrating ever.
Yes, even more frustrating than those annoying birds in Ninja Gaiden.