This is the first of a sixteen-part series in which I simulate the Ravens 2015-16 season in Madden '15. The difficulty is All-Pro, the rosters are accurate, and the stadium/time are the same as real life. Let's get to it.
It's evening at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, in beautiful Denver, Colorado. The stage is set for a bloodbath, and revenge. The last time these two teams met was the season opener two years ago, when the Broncos exacted revenge on the Super Bowl Champion Ravens, whom had defeated the Broncos in a thrilling double-overtime AFC Championship Game. The stage was set, now could the boys in Black & Purple pull off another 'Mile High Miracle'?
It's the season opener, time to show the league what Baltimore can do. I've decided to focus on the air attack, and show off the speedy rookie Breshad Perriman. I think the Broncos have a strong run defense, but their safeties are vulnerable, as Jacoby Jones showed just two years. Time for 'Joe Cool' and 'The Perridator' to show the 'Donkeys' we came to play.
The Ravens offense struggles to put any points on the board. The pass and the run game are both doing well, but they just haven't been able to string together some nice plays. I haven't decided to unleash Perriman yet.
On the other side of the ball, the Broncos scored on their first drive, moving effortlessly down the field. However, after some strategy changes, the Ravens struck back by stopping Manning & Co. Newest Raven CB Kyle Arrington got a good sack on Manning during a CB Blitz.
Broncos 7 - Ravens 0
the newest Raven laying down the 'hit stick' on Manning
Second Quarter: the Ravens finally get into the red zone. After two unsuccessful run attempts, the Ravens opt to pass. The call from OC Marc Trestman is an out route, Perriman is lined up on the left side of the field, and the ball is on the left hash mark. Flacco has decided the ball is going to Perriman, it would be his first target on the day. The ball was snapped, Flacco looked out left, and as planned Perriman lost the CB with a quick cut, showing off his agility. Before Perriman even cut, the ball was in the air, delivered right were it needed to be in Perriman's hands. It was a sure TD, Perriman's first. But he dropped it, wide open. Considering Perriman's biggest 'flaw' coming out of college was his drops, he wasn't exactly proving his critics wrong. The Ravens now had to kick, and Justin Tucker easily hit a short FG.
Defensively, the Ravens held their ground. Only allowing a FG right before the half. The defensive unit was sure doing their job, but where was the offense?
Broncos 10 - Ravens 3
Perriman's first NFL drop
This quarter was rather uneventful for both teams, as no points were scored. Flacco did uncharacteristically throw two interceptions, one on a botched route by Kamar Aiken, and the other on a streak route to Perriman. Thankfully the Ravens defense made sure no points were scored off the turnovers.
Broncos 10 - Ravens 3
The final quarter started off a lot like the third one. The two sides simply traded the ball back and forth. When the Ravens received the ball with only three minutes left and down by a touchdown, it was do-or-die time. Joe Flacco had to commandeer one of his classic drives to win the game. Could he do it?
After a few unsuccessful play calls, the Ravens went big. The call was for Steve Smith and Perriman to streak down the side of the field, while Maxx Williams and Marlon Brown ran slant routes in case Smith and Perriman couldn't get open. Down the left side of the field, dreads flying everywhere, was Perriman, running about five yards ahead of his man. Flacco saw this opportunity and took it, he reared back and launched a bomb that seemed to go a 'mile high'. The ball traveled about fifty or so yards downfield, before finding the hands of Perriman who caught it in stride and ran it in for his first NFL Touchdown. This game was going to overtime.
Broncos 10 - Ravens 10
Perriman redeeming himself
The game turned out exactly how the NFL execs wanted it to, a thrilling overtime. The game eerily reminded fans of the 2012 AFC Championship Game. Could the Ravens pull it off again? Maybe not. After all, a lot had changed since then for the Ravens.
Lady Luck was obviously looking down on the Ravens, as they won the coin toss, and of course, elected to receive. The ball was in 'Joe Cool's' hands, could he deliver?
Seeing as the 'dink-and-dunk' offense hadn't worked for them earlier in the game, the Ravens elected to risk it all and go big on the first play. Four Verticals was the call from upstairs, could Joe rekindle the magic from that fateful night just two seasons ago? The ball was snapped, and once again the rookie speedster sprinted off, there wasn't much separation between Breshad and his man, but Flacco had to trust that the rookie could fight for the ball. And so he once again flung it deep, trying to add to his reputation as the best deep ball thrower in the NFL.
The anxiety was too much, as the ball seemingly hung in the Denver air for what felt like hours. But amazingly, Breshad came down with it, the ball pinned to his facemask. The CB was right on his tail however, and brought him down about five yards after the catch.
Perriman showing off his vertical speed
The jubilation was short however, as the CB had appeared to knock the ball out as Breshad was going to the ground. It was ruled a fumble, and the Broncos scooped it up. So much for 'Lady Luck' being on our side.
But, as league policy states, the play had to be reviewed. Everything had happened so quick that it was hard to say what happened.
After review, the refs overturned the ruling. The Ravens kept the ball, and the pass counted. Thousands of Ravens fans everywhere were relieved. After this incident however, it was clear Breshad needed to work on not just drops, but ball security.
With the ball at about the 20-yard line, the rest was history. After a beautiful PA pass to TE Maxx Williams, who had quite a few key catches in the game, the Ravens were set up at just the three-yard line. After a handoff to RB Justin Forsett, the Ravens were in the end zone. Victory was their's, and so was revenge.
"The Sheriff" scores the game-winning TD
This simulation was thrilling, and low-scoring. I expect the actual contest to be a little more high-scoring, but just as thrilling. When these two teams meet, you know it's going to be good, and emotional. Let's hope we can reclaim our place as winners in this 'Mile High Battle' come Week 1.
Next Time on 'Madden Madness': Ravens @ Raiders