This is a Retro Bowl challenge where I use just defensive star players (plus a kicker for the memes). In the last "episode", I played my first game, did my first draft, and kicked off the first season of the challenge with a big victory over the Ravens in week 1.
Since that first episode, I received confirmation from Retro Bowl Coach that the kicker does in fact benefit from defensive coordinator boosts. If he benefits from defensive coordinator benefits, I'm counting him as a defensive player for the purpose of the challenge.
Alright, let's go. Week 2 approaches quickly.
The Bears want to trade me a retiring WR. Unfortunately for them, not only is Dee Fence not interested in a player who's a season from retiring, he has to reject the trade on the basis of the challenge.
This time, we get to start with the ball. A good return puts it at our 48 (!), so we're starting off on the right foot. A quick screen right to the runningback picks up 6, then an overthrown screen left turns into a 17 yard completion for the bottom wide receiver and a first down at the HOU 29. A quick toss to the TE over some blitzing LBs picks up 11 and another first, but I forget that a no-star WR can't run comeback routes well and throw an incompletion the next play. Another incompletion happens, this time because of me not placing the ball well, and suddenly it's third and 10. Luckily, tight ends are broken in this game, especially as safety valves on a linebacker blitz, and even a no-star tight end can pick up 12 for a first and goal at the 6. This time, the comeback route works, and we pick up a touchdown to the top WR. One extra point later and we are up 7-0 to start the game. Donta Lambo makes an amazing tackle on a run play and forces the Texans to punt, so we have the ball back at the HOU 49 with 0:19 left in the first. The screen game is broken, as a quick toss to the right allows the no-star RB to juke a few guys and pick up almost 14 yards for a first down at the HOU 36 or whereabouts. A misplaced pass falls incomplete, and that ends the first quarter, with CIN up 7-0.
This time, we open with a screen left for 7, then a (gasp) run left for 3. The QB picks up the 4th and a couple blades of grass on foot, and it's a first down to the HOU 23 and a half. A quick toss to the top WR picks up 10 (the corner was in off-man coverage), and this time it's the RB who picks up an inches-to-go first down, getting 4 yards to just inside the 10 yard line for a first and goal. The comeback route doesn't work on first, the WR gets interfered with on second, but the tight end picks up the touchdown on another linebacker blitz. I decide to go for two this time, and a quick screen right gets paydirt for a 15-0 lead. The Texans try to march downfield to answer, but the runningback fumbles it and the clock runs out in the mayhem. Halftime score: CIN 15 - 0 HOU.
To start the second half, the Texans finally get a touchdown on a 4th and goal play. They go for two and get it, so it's 15-8 in the Bengals' favor when they get it back at their own 32. A handoff to the runningback picks up 1, a screen right picks up 5, and the WR makes the snag in off-man coverage for a first down at the CIN 48. A screen right picks up 5, and then the WR makes a few guys miss and gets a first down at the HOU 31. A quick toss right to the WR picks up 6 and ends the third quarter. Bengals still lead 15-8.
In the third, a shovel to the RB up the middle gets me a first down at the HOU 21. The ball bounces off of my WR's helmet for an incomplete pass, then I put a little more thought into my aim and pick up 7 on a screen left. Another shovel gets 4 and a first and goal at the 10. A quick off-man beater toss nets 9 yards, and another off-man beater gets the touchdown on 2nd and goal. One extra point later, it's 22-8 in the Bengals' favor. The Texans drive and score a touchdown, but it's a classic case of too-little-too-late, as a quick screen right from the CIN 31 and a run right kill the 12 remaining seconds without turning the ball over. Final score: Bengals 22, Texans 15.
Post-Game Press Interview: "Defensive Back Davon Armah was on point today. Were you pleased with his performance?" With no option to increase future CC gains, I choose "Praise Player", raising Armah from a half-smile to a full smile.
On to week 3. This time, it's the Giants offering an actually decent, middle-age WR (well, middle-age for football that is). Unfortunately I can't accept (not that I'd even want to in this case; what use is a max speed WR if there's no QB with any throw power to throw to him?).
Again, I start with the ball, this time at the CIN 34. An underthrow nets an incompletion, then a very similar underthrow on the next play turns into 22 and a first down at the GB 44. A screen right gets 8, and then a screen left gets 3 for the first. A screen right gets 6, and then the WR stiff arms one, makes one miss, and jogs to the GB 8 for 19 yards and a first and goal. A screen right nets the TD, and another screen right nets 2. The Bengals lead 8-0. Arthur Samuels makes a great tackle to force the 3 and out, and the clock runs out on the punt return. After a quarter, the Bengals lead 8-0 with the ball at their own 39.
A toss to the TE on a questionable cover/blitz package nets 14 for a first down into GB territory at their 46. A screen left nets 5, but the linebacker blitz gives me a free 10 (or even 11) and a first down. A screen right nets 7, and then a toss outside to the WR picks up 12 and gives me a first down at the GB 12. The WR gets 7 on a toss between two defenders, and then gets a TD catch in front of those two same defenders. The 2 point conversion throw falls incomplete because the no-star WR suddenly has no hands (despite catching an amazing TD). Score is 14-0 Bengals at halftime (clock runs out on the kickoff).
The Packers open the second half by driving the length of the field to cut the Bengals' lead in half, 14-7. The Bengals start at their 44 with their usual fare: a screen right gets 5, another screen right gets a few lucky misses and a first down at the GB 42. A run left nets 6, and the TE stiff-arms one and hops another to get 15 and a first down at the GB 22. A quick toss to the WR outside nets 18 and a first and goal at the GB 4. A shovel to the RB down the middle gets the touchdown to re-assert the lead. Dee Fence settles for sending out Karras for the extra point, which he nails. The clock runs out on the kickoff, and it's 21-7 Bengals headed into the fourth.
The Packers, of course, drive for another touchdown, as if to say "hey, we're actually a good football team". The Bengals are handed the ball at their own 33 with just a 7 point lead. A screen right nets 5, a screen-left-turned-offtackle picks up 4, and a QB sneak gets 2 and the first down. A quick toss to the TE gets 4, but the blitz forces the QB to throw it away. The TE makes a contested catch on 3rd and 6 to keep the drive alive with a first down at the GB 44. A quick off-man beater throw nets 6, the WR gets interfered with, and Dee Fence decides to have his QB waste some clock on 3rd by running from his shotgun position to dive to the ground. On fourth and 5, Fence sends out Karras, who misses low from 57. The Packers have enough time for a Hail Mary... which falls short of the endzone. The Bengals survive. Final score: Bengals 21, Packers 14.
Post-Game Press Interview: "Defensive Back Shamar Barkley had a great game today. The fans clearly want him to do well." As I did before, I choose "Praise Fans" to increase fans. This actually puts me over the threshold for 3 CCs per win, so now each win is worth even more CC, meaning free agents and coordinators should be a little easier to come by.
|Dandre Karras||2||1||29 (miss from 57)|
On to Cleveland, as it were. The dilemma this week is choosing between meeting the shareholders or the team. I decide to meet with the team, to try and boost morale. This may run counter to my stated goal of getting CC, but I feel like having all the CC in the world isn't worth a sad team. Team morale jumps from 79% to 86%.
The game starts with us kicking off. The Browns drive and score a 43 yard field goal to open the game, and we have the ball at our 26 after kickoff. The screen right picks up 4, and an off-man beater to the right picks up 10 and a first down at the 40. A quick toss to the TE gets us a first down in Cleveland territory, but a run with the RB gets nothing. Luckily, the WR can still catch the ball, and he gets 11 and another first. Another toss to the WR earns 19 and a first down. The TE gets 11 on a quick toss over the middle, and suddenly it's first and goal. The TE, of course, gets the touchdown on another blitz read. A screen left gets 2, and it's 8-3 Bengals with ~10 seconds left in the 1st. The Browns begin their drive, but as the first quarter ends, the Bengals are still up 8-3.
The Browns continue their drive and score a touchdown. They go for two and get it, so it's 11-8 in the Browns' favor. Thanks to a monster return and/or a weak kick, we begin our drive at our own 42 (!). You should be used to my MO by now: a screen right gets 3, toss to the WR in off-man picks up 13 and a first. Another toss to the WR nets 18 and yet another first. A screen right nets 1 and a WR toss nets 12. The DB breaks up a pass, but the next time, the QB doesn't miss, nailing a pass at the goal line. We go for 2, and the WR nets yet another catch on this poor DB. Bengals 16, Browns 11. The Browns get the ball with 12 seconds left in the first half, but the Bengals D keeps them out of the endzone. Halftime score: Bengals 16, Browns 11.
The Bengals start the half on their own 44 (!), and a WR toss nets 9. A run left with the RB nets 3 yards, a first down, and a couple bruised egos on the Browns D. The TE nets 15 on a gutzy blitz-7 call by the Browns DC, and the WR gets 9 before inadvertantly stepping out of bounds. Another toss to the WR nets 12 for a first and goal. The DBs break up an endzone pass, and then the QB finds the WR coming back to the ball, juking out a defender and getting the TD. We go for 2, and the WR snags it on a CB who is really just having a terrible day today. Bengals 24, Browns 11. The Browns try to drive, but Davon Armah makes an interception at the CIN 40 to kill that drive. A pass to the WR nets 9, and that ends the 3rd quarter, with the score 24-11 in favor of the Bengals.
A screen right nets the 1 we needed, and about 8 more. Another screen right nets 4, then a misthrow on another blitz-7 call somehow doesn't end up an interception despite hitting a defender in the helmet. The QB connects with the TE for 10 on third to keep the drive alive, and then picks up another 11 on the very same blitz-7 call that just isn't working for the Browns today. A screen right nets 9, and did I mention that blitz-7 call wasn't working? The TE makes a great TD snag to put the Bengals up by even more. A screen right nets 2 to make it Bengals 32, Browns 11. With 15 seconds left, the Browns attempt a Hail Mary to make this game look close, but it's intercepted by Shamar Barkley as time expires. Final score: Bengals 32, Browns 11.
Post-Game Press Interview: "A fan asks: Which coordinator is Nasir Lucas?" The answer, of course, is DF, which nets me an extra boost to my Fans score, which is now 76%.
Ken Gabbert (OC) levels up.
In the next episode, we'll handle weeks 5 (vs Buffalo), week 6 (bye), and week 7 (at Pittsburgh).