Thursday, January 21, 2010

Game Of My Life

As you know, I've gotten back into playing Tecmo. Not on the NES, but on a Web site. So I have to use the keyboard, which makes what I'm doing way more heroic in my own mind.

I've been trying to rack up as many rushing yards as possible in one (preseason) game. Even though Okoye is my traditional fave, I've been using Bo Jackson, who mixes power and speed like no other. The discipline: pick a bad opponent, use Marcus Allen to go backwards on one play, then have Bo get as many as he can (leaving room for at least one more first down), before sending Marcus back in the wrong direction again. And on and on.

I finally passed the 1000 yard mark recently. Then I broke through the 1100 barrier. I was 10 yards away from my next goal of 1200. But I felt like I played a near-perfect game to get the 1190, so would I ever get the coveted dozen-hundred? I had to keep shooting for it, so I selected the Patriots as my next opponent.

The Patriots (of 1990) are horrible. Steve Grogan couldn't hit the broad side of a barn from the inside. They also seem to lack a shotgun formation. Guard against the run and you're gold. Sometimes I'll blitz my freakin' safety, I don't care, what's Grogan gonna do, lob one 20 yards over the open man's head? Remember, the better you play on defense, the more carries Bo gets. As for the New England defense, they might as well be trying to figure out the E.T. Atari game out there. A generation of defenders lost in space, with no time left to start again. They rarely even sell out, despite the fact that the Raiders run every time, so you almost always have a chance at a big gainer. Game on.

The Pats won the toss and their tiny captain elected to receive. Under my game plan, my kicker knows to always go for the onside kick. It wastes less time, and even if you don't recover, you're gonna get the ball back with a long field to work with, which is what Bo needs. Well, I recovered. This is the ultimate start to a game. Because now we're starting both halves with the ball, and if a half is played perfectly, you never have to surrender it to the opposition, since the clock ticks so fast. If you're giving them the ball more than two or three times in the game, you're wasting too much time without getting yards.

So I run Bo down deep--you don't go right down to the 1, because then you can't get another first down that possession. You always go to the 22 or the 12. (Keep in mind your strategy also has to include ending regulation in a tie, to get that all-important fifth quarter.) So Bo goes out of bounds (always try to end your runs this way as it stops the clock and eliminates the chance of a fumble) a little bit before the 20 yard line, and then the stoic and under-appreciated Marcus Allen comes in to do the dirty work: go against every competitive instinct in your body and run backwards. Get your ass out of bounds at your own 1 yard line and wait till your name is called again. You think it's easy! Those defenders still try to tackle you! If not for the yeoman's work of the designated Backwards Back, dodging, weaving, and changing directions at sharp right angles, no man would ever sniff quadruple digits.

On this day, Marcus would be lucky--he couldn't get out of bounds, and though he had the ball jarred loose from him deep in his own territory, a Patriots player recovered it and took it into the end zone. This meant I'd get the ball back instantly, in my own territory, and all I'd have to do is score once against the Pats at some point to go to OT. No problem. Had they recovered on the 5, I might have turned off the game, but since they took it to the house, my game plan didn't miss a beat.

So I got the ball back, did my back and forth routine, and finally scored my touchdown in the second quarter. I kicked off, and again recovered the onside kick. Now I knew it was a special game--one in which I would have the ball almost the whole time. I racked up some more yardage, ending the half in a 7-7 tie, with Bo going out of bounds at the Pats' 1 as time expired.

I get the ball in the second half, and continue to play it perfectly. Finally I'm stopped on a 4th and 50 play, and the Pats take over on downs, their first possession of the game. Grogan misfires twice and is sacked once, and the ball comes back to me. Now I know I'm probably going to break my own record, and by a lot, provided I keep the game tied through regulation. I play out the fourth quarter perfectly, again ending with a long run by Bo to the 1. The Pats players, shocked that the Raiders have refused to put them out of their misery repeatedly, actually have a chance to win this thing, despite only three offensive plays and zero positive yards.

But I win the toss. Ran Bo to the 11. Marcus back to the 2. Bo goes 97 yards to the 1 for a first down. Marcus back to the two. The faster-than-real-life five minute clock is winding down. Bo goes to the 1 again, and this time, on 3rd and goal, Marcus only has enough to time to run along the sideline, wait till the clock gets down to 0:01, and step out, setting up Bo for the game's final run.

Now in Tecmo, you don't know how many yards you have as the game goes on, and I'm not gonna add a "remember to keep a rough running tally" note to my wristband. All I knew was that I'd practically played a perfect game, and that Bo had 45 more yards to work with. If the Pats send everybody, there's no escape, and that's it for my yardage. But if they don't, Bo has a chance not only for the 45 extra yards, but the Raiders can win the game. Why would I care who wins, when I'm only going for yardage? Because it's a game. Even Marcus Allen is in that huddle yelling at Bo to keep driving those legs. He did his work, albeit in the opposite direction, now it was time for Bo to finish his. At the end of those 45 yards is not only a sure record, but a sudden death overtime win with no time left on the clock.

Handoff to Bo, same old play (up and A-button)...and around the corner he goes. One little move and he coasts in from the 20. Raiders win, 13-7.

Now it's the moment of truth. I knew I had a new record. And I knew I had 1200, without a doubt. But what would be the grand total?

The stats came up: Bo Jackson--29 carries, 1250 yards. Pats team--no caries, no yards. Raiders passing--no yards. Pats passing--no yards on no completions. Raiders first downs--13. Pats first downs-0. Almost a perfect game. 1250 yards rushing by one man. Zero total yards for the other team. And a win. I could play Tecmo again, but why?

I've looked online for records in this cult classic, but I don't see many individual game rushing records. I may be the grand champion of this stat. Granted, it's "preseason." (The amazing thing about that game was that you could play a full NFL season and it would actually remember where you left off when you shut down the system.) But in regular season, you'd need to play a playoff game to have a shot at unlimited yards, as those games don't end in ties. But you'd be playing against a playoff team. But if you could somehow keep the game tied after every overtime, you could technically play forever, and slowly rack up the yards. Either way, I challenge anyone to beat 1250 rushing yards in one game by one player.

that's awesome.
Unless I didn't read your post, if I were just looking at the screen print of the final score and stats of the game, then I would be like 'wtf? how did he rush for THAT many yards and only score 13 points'?

1250 rushing yards for one game is insane.
Right, you could try to blow a team out, but that would entail giving them the ball back repeatedly and only playing 4 quarters instead of 5, and then you wouldn't get nearly as many yards.

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Location: Rhode Island, United States