With us now having 14 wins into our franchise mode, the Madden rubber band has been in full force. How I beat the Bengals with little trouble is puzzling, but the Browns and Matt Flynn of all people were near impossible.
The Lions are much of the same.
They aren't crappy in our franchise. In fact, they are 9-4. That alone is a bad sign right there, but Madden knows how to implement the rubber band on a 14-0 team. Here's how the rubber band works:
Receivers don't catch balls - This is probably the most infuriating. While you watch the computer catch balls in traffic and never drop it, Anquan Boldin, who has made a living plucking the ball out of the air and taking a hit, drops everything. He'll catch the ball cleanly and take a minor hit, dropping it immediately.
Running plays are sniffed out almost immediately - I like when I run a counter on the weak end and the defense lines up in accordance to the strong side...and then somehow just can stop my run for a loss. Every time. I mean, yeah, they obviously can disguise some things and stop some runs, but it seems like every time unless I encounter some sort of glitch, they know it's coming. Even if I ran the ball on 3rd and 7, they somehow are completely ready for it, going with a large blitz. If I were to pass it, they'd have everyone in man coverage on the other hand. Speaking of defense...
Defense is absolutely useless - Well, useless when the game hands you running backs like Joique Bell who can, again, juke around the entire line and go for 15 yards. Now to be fair, I can still force punts, but when the game wants to score a touchdown, dammit, it's going to score a touchdown. If you're going into the 2 minute drill at the end of the 4th quarter, you can almost bet on the game getting thrown by your AI, either running the other way instead of an easy interception, or a catch getting made with 3 people in the vicinity, and all three of them needed to take the receiver down.
And how did I win this? Well I was able to not have all three of these things happen to me in excess. Imagine that.
Joique Bell reminded me he was one of those running backs when on the first play from scrimmage he darted around the entire line and picked up 20 yards. Now that's not looking good, especially when the Lions score. But once I threw a pick to Torrey Smith...due to him running behind, not in front of the defender (why was Blaine throwing that far in front of him anyways?!) I knew this wasn't meant to be.
Fun Fact: I prefer to defer with the rubber band. If I don't defer, I have a simple rotation in place: Run three straight Hail Mary's and see if one sticks. Well, one stuck, which let this game go much longer than it should. Despite scoring early. The Lions quickly got the score back with another one of those "Calvin Johnson can catch anything" plays where no one can even catch up to him.
Once I got the ball back, I wound up getting sacked, long after I pressed the button to throw the ball. It left me with 4th and 20, along with me saying "To hell with this attempt" and running an all go, which Torrey Smith caught 1-handed for a 30 yard gain. It didn't do much, he decided to drop an open catch that would have taken him to the end zone. Vance McDonald didn't help matters much also, channeling in his stone hands. It all led to a second Lions TD and a reset.
After receiving a kickoff, Blaine Gabbert threw a pick. The Lions scored a touchdown on the first play. Once getting the ball back, I went for it on 4th and 3 at midfield. Bruce Miller crossed the marker. The game disagreed. The Lions scored on the very next play also. I finally scored after getting the ball, but failed the two point conversion. That is all.
This game led me to a 49ers/Lions shootout almost immediately. For the first quarter I found myself at a 22-14 lead and oddly enough, the rubber band mysteriously vanished. Receivers were wide open, running lanes actually worked. I was having a football game!
And then Blaine Gabbert dislocated his ankle.
This allowed Colin Kaepernick to return to the game. I benched him about the time the 49ers did in real life. The difference is Madden regards Kap as the better player. Who am I to judge. I know I said that I'd beat this game with Blaine Gabbert, but if the game is going to injure Gabs on the one attempt I may win. With a better character, as dictated by the game, I started throwing darts all over the place and thanks to a 78 yard Carlos Hyde touchdown run (it was pretty awesome), I took advantage of the rubber band glitch and put us at 15-0. That was infuriating.
With the Rams next week, and then the playoffs, it's only going to get harder. If Blaine Gabbert is out for the season with this injury, I'll take any granted handicap the game wants to offer me. As far as what I saw out of the Lions. They are absolutely horrible against the deep ball. I don't know how many times I could send Torrey Smith or Jerome Simpson on a go-route or a deep slant and connect with them for a massive gain. I do credit doing this wayyyyy more often in the final attempt than I did in my balanced offenses of the first few attempts, but that's really bad if I can abuse the game like that.
Then again, this is the Lions. Let's see how they do in our simulation later today.