NOTE: This entry was written before the 2013 NFL Playoff game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Carolina Panthers. The final score of the actual game is at the bottom of this post.
I enjoy Madden Football 25, the special twenty-fifth anniversary edition game that I purchased for my Xbox 360. I haven’t actually played it, but I have used it as a “game predictor” for Panthers games. I do not usually buy these games because they are consistently the same thing year after year. The only other Madden I own is Madden 2003 for the PS2, but that was the year the Panthers went to the Super Bowl. However, one day I turned on my Kindle Fire and there was an ad on the screen telling me I could buy it for $5.00. I waited until the sale began and got my copy.
This is what I do with my Madden Football 25. I select the two teams that I want to play, then I put the controller in the middle – selecting neither team. The game asks me if I sure I want to do this insane thing. I say YES.
Then the game starts to play. I watch the game almost as if I’m watching the real thing! Announcers talk through the game, camera angles change, and instant replays are shown for big plays. There are even sponsors such as Chevrolet, Snickers, and Gatorade!
This morning I loaded up the game and even as I write the virtual 49’ers are playing the virtual Panthers:
First Quarter: This is showing itself to be a game of defense, the Panthers get a sack. But Kapernick is making some big passes late in the quarter. Boldin makes another big catch. The Panthers intercept! The quarter ends with no score.
Second Quarter: The Panthers still have the ball, and the drive consumes a lot of time off the clock. They get close enough for a field goal – and they miss! 49ers get the ball on their own 45 with 2 minutes left in the half. Two plays later Kap throws another interception – caught by Beason (OK, he’s not on the team any more). Can the Panthers make something happen? Cam throws some passes in the clutch and Steve Smith, LaFell, and Olsen make some key catches. They drive to the 27 yard line – Cam runs to the 18 making it 4th and inches.
Riverboat Ron goes for the field goal as the clock ticks down, and it turns out to be a critical error. When the 49ers get the ball back they score within three plays with a long touchdown pass!
The Panthers are not flustered. They get the ball back with just seconds on the clock and get close enough for a 56 yard field goal attempt. It’s Good!! Score going into the half: 49ers 7 and Panthers 6. That was a pretty intense ending to the half!
Third Quarter: 49ers start the second half with the ball and drive with authority into Panther territory. The running game is brutal and they drive to within the 10 yard line. Oh rats, they run it in for a touchdown. 14-6. Panthers get the ball back. Can the offense get it together? No, Cam gets sacked on third down and they punt. The third quarter ends with 49ers 14 and the Panthers 6.
Fourth Quarter: 49ers are now taking their time and playing with authority. This drive eats up the clock. Gore makes another big run. First and Goal, can the Panthers make a defensive stand. We are running out of time! Florence makes a key sack on second down. It’s third and goal. They make the stop! 49ers kick a field goal making it 17-6. This leads to the “Video Game Theology” part of this post: Is it wrong to pray for your sports team? What does God do with competing prayers?
Back to the game. It is not a pretty ending. The Panthers get sacked on third AND fourth down. 49ers get the ball inside our 20 yard line with 1:11 to go in the game. They honorably take a knee and then kick a field goal as the clock winds down. Final score: San Francisco 49ers 20, Carolina Panthers 6.
I’m too depressed to write any more. Hopefully the real game will go differently.
Final Note: The final score of the actual game was 49ers 23 – Panthers 10. Pretty close to the simulation.