Time for the third annual First Hour Super Bowl pre-enactment! With the big game just two days away, we play the upcoming Super Bowl match-up with a football video game. Now, we could play something fancy like Madden 2010, but that's no fun (literally), so we'll be playing one of the most entertaining football games of all-time: NFL Blitz on the Nintendo 64. I have a ton of great memories of this game, mostly of last second comebacks and aggressive rubber band A.I.
In 2008 and 2009, we played the Super Bowl with Tecmo Super Bowl, the epitome of classic sports gaming. NFL Blitz has some weird limitations though, you can't actually pick who you want to play against, so the only way I could match up the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints was to start a season. Thankfully, the two teams met in only the fourth game that season, so I was able to sneak a few practice rounds in. Unfortunately, this means I was only able to play the match-up once, instead of a best of three like I usually would. But like I said, the computer will simply not allow a blow-out to occur, so the game will be close no matter what side I play on.
So here we go, first we'll do a quick look at how the teams matched up back in the days of NFL Blitz (console versions were released in 1998) and then we'll play the game. In very un-Blitz-like fashion, we'll be playing the game with six minute quarters! The default quarter length is two minutes.
Post-game update: Blitz sadly fails to come through. Not only was the final score not 87-79, but the Saints won! Maybe next year!
Neither the Colts nor the Saints were rated very well in NFL Blitz. Surprisingly, even with Peyton Manning on the ball, the Colts have a zero passing rating! But they did have Marshall Faulk running the ball, so not so bad there. The Saints have some guy named Billy Joe Hobert taking the snap. I've honestly never heard of the guy. This does not bode well!
Here are the teams' ratings out of five (higher is better):
Special Teams: 3
Special Teams: 2
Not much else to say, so let's get to the game!
Colts automatically receive the kickoff and the game is off! 1st and 30 on their 17, Manning throws a first down to Harrison, Faulk then runs for 29 yards, screen to Faulk and touchdown! The first score only took 46 seconds and the Colts take the free extra point. The Colts kick off but the Saints fumble the return! Manning gets the ball back into his hands... and throws an interception! This was a very typical Blitz-like interception where the ball bounced around a bit until it magically landed into the hands of a Saint. Hobert quickly marches down the field and the game is tied up.
I can tell this is going to be a high scoring game! And to prove my very point, the Colts immediately score again. There's some great plays in the playbook where you can toss the ball backwards to another receiver giving you a ton of extra time to throw. This is very valuable in a game like Blitz.
Somehow, the Colts actually force the Saints to punt! OF course, you have to go 30 yards for a first down so maybe that attributes to the kick. Manning punishes the Saints and quickly tosses another touchdown, but miss the two-point conversion. As a heads up, fourteen points will be the game's biggest deficit! Hobert somehow works some magic he never had in real life and throws a great touchdown.
The Saints continue their momentum by intercepting Manning and almost return it for a touchdown. Doesn't take long though for them to push it into their endzone. Well, the Colts actually ended up tossing the receiver into the endzone, that was foolish!
Current score: 21-21
Letting the quarterback run is very effective in NFL Blitz, and Manning ends up jogging into the endzone. The Colts miss the two-point attempt and leave the game open for the Saints. The Saints get tossed into the endzone again in a "tackle." The Colts have to stop giving this game away.
Fumble on the kickoff! Saints run it to the Colts' three yard line but the defense comes through and holds their ground. The Saints are forced to kick a field goal (yes, this game has them). The Colts fight back though and quickly strike with a touchdown.
The Colts finally intercept Hobert by performing some crazy Matrix-like move mid-air. They punish the Saints again for their mistake and take a ten point lead. A long kickoff return by the Saints but then a huge quarterback sack. They somehow fight back and push to the three yard line again... but are stopped again! And then the Colts block the field goal attempt!
Manning is intercepted deep in his territory near the end of the half giving Hobert an easy touchdown toss. After the kickoff, Peyton Manning is sacked in his endzone. It's a safety!
Current score: 41-40 (Colts)
Saints receive the opening half kickoff but Hobert throws a quick interception. Manning ends up hoofing it into the endzone again. Wouldn't be a bad game to have this guy on your fantasy team! The Saints respond though and also pick up the two point conversion. We now have a tied game at 48!
Manning somehow gets stuffed a few times and on fourth and long, go for it and fail. The Saints aren't able to completely capitalize though and settle for a field goal. And there he goes again, Manning has the sneak perfected.
The ping-pong match continues and the Saints respond almost the same way with a quarterback sneak, and then the Colts score, and then the Saints score again. The game is not known for effective defensive schemes.
Current score: 62-65 (Saints)
The fourth quarter opens with the Colts kicking a field goal to even the score. The Colts are a little too aggressive on defense though and an all-out-blitz leads to an easy touchdown for Hobert.
Wow, the Saints try an onside kick but it fails! That was certainly unexpected. The Colts have the ball at mid-field which just makes things way too easy for Peyton Manning. Too add insult to multiple injuries, a huge sack puts the Saints way back near their goal line where they eventually give the ball up on 4th and 16. Harrison breaks a ton of tackles for the Colts and pushes his way to the endzone. Colts are up again.
It only takes one play though in NFL Blitz, and the game is tied again! This is where Peyton Manning shines though: under pressure. He quickly drives down the field with just a few minutes left in the game and throws a touchdown. The Colts decide to attempt a risky two-point conversion and succeed! Putting them up by eight points.
1:25 left in the game and 61 yards to go. The Saints eventually get to the goal line but this has failed them all day. First a sack, then an incompletion as the wide open receiver jumps out of the endzone! And then another incompletion... fourth and goal for the game... A final sack! Colts regain the ball with 30 seconds left and an 8 point lead. Manning does what Manning does best and holds onto the ball for the win.