Thursday, February 07, 2008

At Least One Team Can Go 19-0

Just because the Patriots lost in the Super Bowl doesn't mean that an undefeated season is impossible for everyone. On the Wii, I have Madden, and I have been thriving in Franchise Mode as the Bears. I started off with a rough 2007, mirroring the Bears' actual 2007 record of 7-9. The next year, Cedric Benson really came into his own (yes, the very same Cedric Benson who has refused to come into his own in real life), leading the Bears to a 13-3 record and a Super Bowl crown. 2009 looked promising. Nearly every starter was named to the Pro Bowl. Benson again had a stellar season, rushing for over 2,000 yards and 30 TDs. The Bears finished 15-1, but got knocked off by the Eagles at home in the Divisional Playoffs. Then came 2010. They were noticeably hungry, and the opening round loss to the Eagles left a bitter, bile-like taste in their mouths. Devin Hester -- who, by now, is far and away the NFL's all-time leading kick returner -- laid opposing kick coverage teams to waste like a tornado to Atkins, Arkansas (too soon?). Cedric Benson was again a machine. Rex Grossman was nearly flawless (yes, the very same Rex Grossman who has refused to be nearly flawless in real life). The Bears stormed through the regular season without a blemish. But would their playoff woes from the year before come back to haunt them? Would they crumble under the pressure of being undefeated and ridding the world of Mercury Morris, like the Patriots crumbled? No. In the Super Bowl, they were matched up against the 15-1 Ravens, who were out for blood, even without Ray Lewis on the team anymore. Hester electrified the crowd with not one, not two, but three kickoff returns for touchdowns. Benson rushed for 200 yards and a couple scores. Yet the Cadillac MVP was Adewale Ogunleye, who had 3 sacks and two fumble recoveries, including one for a touchdown. The Bears set a Super Bowl record by scoring 62 points.

In the off-season, I made the mistake of letting the computer sign free agents and such. It did a great job on defense (I lost no starters), but it didn't re-sign Benson, who had been the best back in the league over the past three seasons. In a fit of irony, the Bears' first opponent in 2011 was the Falcons -- the very team that signed Benson. The biggest question facing the Bears was how they would respond after completing the NFL's first 19-0 season. Would they come out flat? Would they be too cocky? To gauge the team's energy, I decided to take the ball after I won the coin toss (I usually opt to kick it). 99 yards and a few seconds later, Hester had returned his first of 3 kickoffs for touchdowns in the game (along with a meaningless Hail Mary TD reception as time expired). Benson's replacement -- virtual unknown, Eddie Moore -- ran for 113 yards and a touchdown. But it was the defense that once again proved its mettle, racking up 5 turnovers, 3 sacks, and two INTs returned for touchdowns. While I came a point short of the all-time record for points scored in a game, I think the 72-31 final score sent a message to the league: The Bears are not afraid to run up the score if it means scoring 70 points.

Speaking of the Wii, I downloaded Double Dribble and Blades of Steel, two of Konami's finest additions to the world. Is there anything more comforting than the music in Blades of Steel when the teams are coming out onto the ice?

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