The Buffalo Bills take on the Baltimore Ravens to open their regular season. I decided to play the popular football game, Madden 19, to see what may happen.
Much to the chagrin of my lovely wife, I have been dabbling in sports gaming ever since EA Sports’ Madden ’93 was released for Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo. Over the years, the Madden series has evolved into an aesthetically pleasing work of art that has developed a cult-like following.
Although many pundits will say that the game fails to address certain benchmarks of realistic NFL gameplay, the truth is that material improvements have been made on an annual basis over the last handful of years.
When it comes to my Madden gaming preferences, I stick to one mode specifically: Franchise. This affords me the luxury of taking over a football team – as owner or coach – in hopes of hoisting the Vince Lombardi trophy on a regular basis. I typically elect to assume the role of owner, which means responsibilities such as setting budgets, controlling rosters and having the ability to upgrade an existing stadium, build a new stadium or even relocate a franchise to a different city.
Madden augmented the franchise mode experience further last season by introducing the ability to start off the first season of your career to align to what has actually transpired in NFL football to date. What that means is that real-life scores, stats, rosters and depth charts are imported to give you as authentic of an experience as is humanly possible.
For those who are interested, the game settings are as such:
- PC version of Madden 19
- 13 minute quarters with accelerated clock
- All-Pro difficulty
- Default gameplay sliders
- Depth charts (including injuries & suspensions) are completely up-to-date
Baltimore, Maryland (Sep 9, 2018): M&T Bank stadium is rocking as fans bask in the sunshine of a pristine 82 degree weather day with minimal winds. The Bills start off their 2018/19 campaign by surprisingly choosing to don their home attire in Baltimore. The road team wins the coin toss and elect to receive.
The first quarter of the game was a thing of beauty for Bills fans. As expected, newly appointed offensive coordinator, Brian Daboll, elects to focus heavily on establishing a running game, to help take the pressure off of sophomore signal caller, Nathan Peterman. Suffice it to say, the plan was working.
Despite fielding a less than formidable offensive line, running back, LeSean McCoy, is able to routinely gash the Ravens front seven to the tune of an eight carry, 64-yard first quarter. Despite the ground game being the team’s bread and butter, the highlight of the opening frame was Daboll’s decision to isolate McCoy out wide on Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley, which yields a 49-yard gain.
This drive is properly finished off by the boys in blue as Peterman rolls out to the right side on third and goal from the six-yard line and connects with enigmatic receiver, Zay Jones, to put the Bills up by a touchdown. Buffalo 7-0 Baltimore.
With the pressure of staving off tantalizing rookie Lamar Jackson on his mind, Joe Flacco does himself no favors over the course of the first quarter. The 33-year old is routinely confused by the Bills’ variety of zone packages, to the tune of a one completions in eights attempts, for a paltry eight passing yards to start off the game.
Despite the Bills defensive line not registering a sack, they are maintaining their gap integrity and allowing rookie phenom linebacker Tremaine Edmunds to blow up any semblance of a run game while also managing to stick to fellow rookie Hayden Hurst like glue.
The rest of the first half remains a defensive struggle. Ravens running back Alex Collins is only able to muster a feeble 10 carries for 24 yards, while McCoy manages to top the 100-yard threshold on 15 first-half carries. Although neither Peterman nor Flacco are able to gain much traction on the passing front, each are able to lead their teams to a field goal to end the first half. Buffalo 10-3 Baltimore.
More from BuffaLowDown
- Buffalo Bills were ready to trade back if they couldn’t get Dalton Kincaid
- Grading Buffalo Bills drafting Dalton Kincaid in 2023 NFL Draft
- How the Buffalo Bills can win Day 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft
- Buffalo Bills having conversations about trading for DeAndre Hopkins
- Buffalo Bills Draft Rumors: Bills linked to this shocking first round target
After a quick three-and-out for the Ravens, Peterman is able to shock a nine-man in the box defensive set-up by hitting tight-end Charles Clay in stride on a slant pattern for a monstrous 48-yard gain. Unfortunately, the Bills have to settle for a 34-yard field goal, rather than building an insurmountable lead. An all too familiar result for the Bills. Buffalo 13-3 Baltimore.
After an absolutely stellar preseason, Marcus Murphy was rightfully awarded the team’s punt returner duties. After managing over 10 yards per return on three earlier punts, Murphy suffered a Mike Gillislee-like brain fart.
The Missouri Tiger product decides to trail back and field a majestic Sam Koch punt at the one-yard line, which carries his momentum into the end zone and is tackled for a completely avoidable safety. Momentum shift. Buffalo 13-5 Baltimore.
With momentum clearly on their side, Flacco begins to form an immediate connection with Hurst, as the Ravens almost effortlessly are able to buccaneer down the field with little resistance. Collins is able to finish off the drive with a three-yard touchdown, after a missed tackle by veteran linebacker, Lorenzo Alexander. Coach John Harbaugh chooses to go for two to tie the game, but a fade pattern to Michael Crabtree is overthrown. Buffalo 13-11 Baltimore.
Much like the second quarter, the beginning of the fourth quarter offers much to be desired on the offensive front. Both sides exchange field goals, mostly attributable to favorable field position gained from a poor punting game on both sides. In particular, rookie Bills punter Corey Borjorquez has a forgettable NFL debut with a 31.4 net average on five punts, one of which being blocked. Buffalo 16-14 Baltimore.
With a shade under three minutes on the clock, Flacco marches his team down the field to give star kicker Justin Tucker a 28-yard chip shot to put the Ravens up by a point with 11 seconds left on the clock. The game was assuredly over…right? Baltimore 17-16 Buffalo.
After Taiwan Jones returns a short kickoff to the Bills 29-yard line, the team is left with a mere five seconds and a single timeout to accomplish a miracle. Daboll calls a Hail Mary trips left that is launched just under 50 yards in the direction of Kelvin Benjamin.
With a sea of humanity clamoring to come down with the pigskin, perennial All-Pro safety Eric Weddle decides to inexplicably hold Benjamin and is given defensive pass interference penalty with no time left on the clock. The end result is a first down for the Bills on the Ravens 25-yard line, well within range of Bills kicker Steven Hauschka.
What better way to start off the season than having “Hausch Money” drill a field goal to, again, tear the hearts out of Ravens fans bodies? Well, the snap was good, the hold of Bojorquez was not. As a result, Ravens linebacker, Matt Judon, manages to propel himself in the air and get a hand on the ball. The kick fails to travel in the air at all.
Bills lose. Final score: Baltimore 17-16 Buffalo.
Sigh. On to the Los Angeles Chargers we go.
Player of the game: LeSean McCoy (27 rushes, 140 rushing yards; 4 catches, 64 yards)