Video game blues

I had my long-awaited Tecmo Bowl game last night. That’s right, the championship game of Tecmo Bowl is called the Tecmo Bowl. How creative.

I matched up against Denver. I had defeated Denver in the semifinals but I didn’t write down the password correctly so I got Indy instead and dispatched them 24-21.

Whoever you play in the championship game is going to be really good. This team had “#7” at QB, and when they run the shotgun, four receiver set, it’s almost impossible to defend. Their running back, “#26”, got into the secondary and couldn’t be run down. I thought that the team had managed to pick up the 12-year-old version of Clinton Portis. No, it was Bobby Humphrey, who made a Pro Bowl in 1990 before his career collapsed.

I gave up a pick-six but kept things close in the first half. I gave up a long Humphrey touchdown and it was 20-7. I had to score and make at least one defensive stop. I made it down the field and completed a fourth-down pass for the touchdown. On the next Denver possession, I guessed correctly and got an interception. Once again on fourth down Payton took it in. I was winning 21-20. There was a little more than a minute left.

I thought about letting Denver score and trying to make my final stand on offense. I played it straight. With about 45 seconds to go, I got another interception. I was going to pull it off.

Sadly, with 45 seconds to go in this game there is no “Victory” formation. You have to earn your way. I got one first down but was stuffed twice, and on third down I called for the screen pass. If there’s a defender on your running back in that situation, you’re screwed. I threw, got picked off, but made the tackle. Denver had 24 seconds and about 40 yards to go.

My defense went into prevent. I gave up a fourth-down pass, but the clock was under 20 seconds. I managed to sniff out a couple of runs. #7 hit a long pass and I made the tackle inside the 10. Six seconds left. The running back took the ball up the middle but the team swarmed in for the tackle. Two seconds left.

I called run on defense. If I called pass wrong I had a shot at stopping it. If I called pass and it was a run, I was finished. It was a pass. The QB moved up, and as I went to meet him shy of the goal line, he stopped shy and tossed it to the wide-open receiver (there is no other kind in Tecmo).

Touchdown.

After work I had my rematch. It was just as tight as the previous game, but it was lacking something. There was no urgency. I trailed 14-0 early. Not throwing interceptions seemed to help. I took a 21-17 lead into the fourth quarter. It was time to give up the inevitable go-behind touchdown.

I wondered why, in Super Bowl 41, that the Patriots and Giants weren’t able to muster much offense until the fourth quarter. There was a sense of urgency to every play. The defense didn’t stop trying. The players on offense just had answers.

That was me, driving steadily but trying to run the clock. I had a fourth and nine inside the 30-yard line. Should I go for the tie? Forget it. I completed a pass. Fourth and four inside the ten. I run and am stopped at the two. Three plays later it’s fourth down again. Knowing that Denver’s going to call my play, I choose a run. Somehow I’m able to punch it in.

I give up a couple of medium-big plays in the final few seconds, but mercifully the clock runs out. I am not elated, nor happy, nor slightly unhappy. I’m relieved. Life has to have better rewards than this. I think I can safely retire from the Tecmo Bowl for a little while.

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