The Madden franchise prides itself on making video games very realistic compared to the real-life NFL. With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to see how the Ravens-Broncos matchup played out in the virtual world. While it is a video game, Madden has had a pretty good record of predictions. The simulation was a computer versus computer simulation on the Playstation 4 console.
Both teams are forced to punt on their opening possession as neither offense is able to garner much momentum. The Ravens are able to strike first with a 41 yard field goal by Justin Tucker with roughly six minutes left in the quarter. The Broncos respond with an 80 yard drive, capped off by a nine yard touchdown run by C.J. Anderson. The first quarter ends with the Broncos leading 7-3.
The Ravens come out firing, hitting Steve Smith Sr. with a 40 yard bomb to set up a 5 yard touchdown run by Justin Forsett. After forcing a punt, the Ravens advance the ball to mid-field but a Joe Flacco pass gets deflected and intercepted by Chris Harris. The Broncos take advantage of the turnover and convert it into points with a 16 yard touchdown pass from Manning to Emmanuel Sanders, re-taking the lead 14-10.
With time running down, the Ravens implement the two-minute offense and are able to drive down the field, setting Justin Tucker up for a 49 yard field goal to end the half and narrow the deficit to 14-13 going into halftime.
Receiving to start, the Broncos return the kick to the Ravens 40, but it is called back for an illegal block in the back. Facing third and 11, Manning is sacked by Terrell Suggs and fumbles, recovered by Brandon Williams in Denver territory. The Ravens take advantage of the turnover, as Joe Flacco connects on an 19 yard touchdown to Crockett Gillmore, giving the Ravens a 20-14 edge.
The Ravens defense is again able to pressure Manning on the following drive, and force a punt. Justin Forsett and Buck Allen are able to move the ball downfield. Facing a second and 7 from the Denver 27, Joe Flacco connects with Steve Smith, who breaks two tackles on the way to the end zone, increasing the Ravens lead to 27-14.
Finishing off an action-packed third quarter, the Broncos are able to take advantage of a deep pass interference call on Jimmy Smith, capped off with Manning finding Owen Daniels in the end zone with less than 15 seconds remaining in the quarter. The Ravens enter the fourth leading 27-21.
After being forced to punt, the Broncos offense is able to move the ball down the field via the running game. The drive is capped off by a 23 yard touchdown pass from Manning to Demaryius Thomas, giving the Broncos the 28-27 lead.
The Ravens are again forced to punt and with the Broncos seemingly poised to strike again, the Ravens secondary comes up big with Jimmy Smith intercepting Manning's pass. Flacco orchestrates a long drive with a mix of run plays and short passes to the tight ends. With less than three minutes remaining, Flacco throws an eleven yard touchdown to Marlon Brown, giving the Ravens a 34-28 lead.
The Broncos last drive comes up short, as Manning's pass attempt on 4th and 6 from the Denver 44 is batted down by Will Hill. The Ravens are able to run out the clock and escape Denver with a victory to start off the 2015-2016 campaign by a score of 34-28.
Ravens Final Stats:
Joe Flacco: 19-28, 248 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
Justin Forsett: 22 carries, 123 yards, 1 TD
Steve Smith: 6 receptions, 107 yards, 1 TD
Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Timmy Jernigan: 1 sack each