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 weeks 5 and 7, as well as handling our bye week. As of right now, we are 6-0 and in charge of our own fate in the AFC North. (Interestingly, all 3 of the other teams in our division are 4-3.)
In this one, we'll take on weeks 8, 9, and 10. Week 8 is against the Colts; a 3.5 star offense paired with a 3 star defense shouldn't give us too much trouble.
The game doesn't give me a dilemma for this week.
The Colts start with the ball and drive down the field, picking on Davon Armah until they find themselves in a fourth down scenario. They kick a field goal: Colts 3, Bengals 0. We get the ball at our 43 yard line. A quick toss to the RB nets 1, then the WR on the bottom of the screen somehow catches a tip drill ball and takes it for a first down at the Colts 41. I hit the WR on a slant for a gain of about 15 and a first down at the Colts 26. A quick toss inside to the RB nets 4, then a toss on the slant nets 9 for a first down at the Colts 13. A misguided attempt at a RB rush play nets 2, the WR drops an open pass, and then he's held at the sticks. I trot out Karras, who drills the FG attempt: Colts 3, Bengals 3. The clock expires on the kickoff, but the Colts will start the second quarter with the ball, the game tied at 3.
The Colts start a drive from their own 16 and drive into good position to get a touchdown or a field goal... but then Dmitri Payne comes up big with the interception to give us the ball at our own 14. I, of course, immediately throw a pick to their DB for some reason. Simon needs to buff these no-stars a little. They score a touchdown, obviously, so it's Colts 10, Bengals 3. We get the ball at our own 35, and a screen right nets 4. The QB misses yet another throw, and on 3rd and 6 I hit the slant for 7 and the first down at our 46. I then hit the bottom WR for 13 yards and yet another first down, this time at the Colts 41. I hit the TE for 6, then the RB on a screen right for 4 and another first. I hit the WR on bottom for a 9 yard gain and call my first timeout. I hit the TE on a tip drill for a first down at their 15, but with 4 second left I decide to just kick the field goal. Karras drills it, obviously, and it's Colts 10, Bengals 6 at halftime, with us getting the ball to start the second half.
We start the second half in a hole, but with the ball. We start this drive at our own 33. A screen left to the RB nets 8, then a shovel pass to the RB nets nothing, and finally a screen right nets 5 for the first down at our own 46. I hit the WR for a slant and a gain of 7, then I hit the RB for a screen left, 6 yards, and the first down at the Colts 41. The QB misses yet another easy throw to the TE on a blitz package, then hits the WR for a gain of 8 on an in route. Facing 3rd and 2, he hits the RB on a screen right for 4 and the first down. The TE drops an easy pass, then the RB nets 2 on a screen right. Facing 3rd and 8, the QB tries his damndest, but nobody's open and we trot out Karras for the field goal to make it a 1 point game. He drills it, so it's now Colts 10, Bengals 9 as we enter the 4th quarter.
Our defense forces a quick 3 and out, and suddenly we're in position to lead for the first time this game. We hit the TE for 8, then the RB for 5. First down at the Colts 40. Shovel pass to the RB for 4, toss to the RB on play action for 7. First down at the Colts 28. WR for 10, RB dive for the and-inches play. First down at the Colts 17. WR on an in route for 5, RB on a screen left for 4, QB sneak for the short 1. First down at the Colts 6. With just 17 seconds on the clock, we can "kneel" it out by immediately diving the QB sneak. I take 3 knees and call a timeout with 1 second remaining on the clock, trotting out Karras for a 22 yard field goal to win it... and he drills it! We win the game: Bengals 12, Colts 10.
Post Game Press Interview: "This organization has taken some criticism in the past. It must feel good to win." I choose to Praise Fans, which gets our Fans score up to 90.
Our next opponent is the Jacksonville Jaguars. Currently dead-last in the AFC South, the Jags' mediocre defense and barely-above-average offense isn't going to win them many games in a division where the leading Titans have 5-star offense and defense.
I also don't get a dilemma this week.
We start with the ball at our own 35. A screen left gets 1, then a run up the gut gets nothing. A gutsy throw on 3rd and 9 nets just enough for the first. A screen right nets 2, then 6, then 3 for the first down. A deep in route nets 11 for another quick first, then another throw to the same route nets 12 for yet another. A run left is horribly mistimed and results in a loss of 1, then a throw to an out route nets 13 down the sidelines. Facing 1st and just-barely-10, a screen right nets 4. A screen left also nets 4, and the quarter ends, with the Bengals on the JAX 2, facing a 3rd and 2, and the score still tied at 0.
On the very first play of the 2nd quarter, the Bengals strike, hitting the TE on a blitz defense call that somehow every team in the NFL is using. We go for 1, and Karras drills it. The Jaguars, for their part, go 3 and out, giving us the ball at our own 45 with almost 3 quarters of the quarter left. A run up the gut nets 4, then 5, and a QB sneak picks up the remaining 1 for the first. A throw on the slant results in 10, and the runningback picks up the rounding error and more with 4 yards for the first down. The deep in route connects again for 9, and the QB sneak nets 2 for the first. A misplaced ball results in the QB's first incompletion of the night, then a tipped ball results in his second incompletion of the night. Facing 3rd and 10, we decide to kneel the clock and take the FG. With 6 seconds left, Karras drills the 34 yarder to increase the lead. The clock runs out on the kickoff, and it's Bengals 10, Jaguars 0.
They start the second half by driving down the field, before Davon Armah forces a fumble and gives us the ball at the 14 yard line. An in route gives us 8 on the blitz, then a quick throw right nets 13 for the first down at our own 35. A run left gets back to the line, and a slant throw gets 10. The QB sneak picks up the rounding error, for another first down. A quick throw right falls incomplete, then incomplete again. A throw on the slants falls incomplete, and we start the 4th quarter with a punt. Still, it's Bengals 10, Jaguars 0.
As promised, the 4th quarter starts with a punt from us. They drive to midfield, before stalling out themselves and punting to us, where we get the ball at our own 24. A run up the gut nets 5, then a screen right nets another 5 for the first. A screen left nets 9, then a screen right nets 4 for the first. We miss the TE on a wide open throw versus the blitz, then a throw on the slant nets 11 for the first. A quick throw right nets 6, and facing 2nd and 4 with :20 left in the fourth, we decide to run out the clock and take the long FG (since a Karras miss won't kill us). With 6 on the clock, Karras drills a 50 yarder. The clock runs out on the kickoff, and we have our first shutout in the history of this team, as the Bengals win 13-0.
Press Interview: "That was an impressive performance and an incredible atmosphere." I go for "Praise Fans", which increases our Fans rating to 97.
Dion Cole is due for an upgrade. I decide to go for Speed, since it's an area he lacks in.
Our next opponent (and the last for this episode) is the Tennessee Titans. If ever there was a team I was afraid to face, it would be this team. A 5-star offense means we can't rely on our defense to shut out the other team. They'll get a stop or two, to be sure, but we can't afford to stall on offense for too long.
Our dilemma for this week is that Arthur Samuels has been gambling online. We decide to defend him, which costs 1 CC, but is cheaper than the alternative (which would be to meet with him and try to increase his happiness again).
They start with the ball, and immediately drive down, scoring a field goal when they stall at the last moment. Starting from our own 32, we immediately throw an incompletion as we get obliterated on the throw. A throw on the slant nets 8, and then a similar throw nets 7 for the first. An in route nets 14 for the first down in Titans territory. A quick throw right nets 7, then an in route nets 10 for the first down. A throw on the slant nets 11 for the first down into the redzone. The throw on the slants nets 7, but we get intercepted in the endzone as the 1st quarter ends, scoreless.
They fail to benefit in points from this turnover, as they stall near midfield. Starting with the ball at our own 26, a screen right nets 3, a run up the gut nets 5, then a screen left nets another 5 for the first. A quick throw right nets 4, then a screen right nets 6. A screen right nets 5 to pick up the rounding error and get the first down in Titans territory. An incompletion on first down is followed by yet another. A pass on third down results in 4th and inches, and with 6 seconds left, we trot out Karras for the field goal, which he drills from 52. The clock runs out on the kickoff, as the half ends, Bengals 3, Titans 3.
We start the second half with the ball at our own 37. A quick throw left nets 3, a shovel pass up the gut nets 6, and a QB sneak picks up the short 1 for the first. A toss to the TE nets 10 and the first, then a quick toss right nets another 10 for another first. Another quick toss right, another first down, so on and so forth, until a throw on the slant nets 9 and puts the ball on the 1. The QB sneak nets the TD, giving the Bengals a lead. Karras nails the XP, and the Bengals lead 10-3. They drive down the field, but Davon Armah makes an interception on the final play to get us the ball back. We enter the fourth quarter up 10-3.
We start this final quarter at our own 5 yard line. A patient off-man beater throw nets a first down at the 15, then another one nets 9 (a quick screen right nets 6 for the first). A rush play nets a loss of 2 (but 8 seconds come off the clock), then a quick toss right nets 5. Facing 3rd and 6 at our own 34, we throw a pick over the middle on a misplaced ball to the in route. They drive down to the goal line, but we make a great stand with a sack from Maulet on 4th down to get the ball back. A few plays later, we've done it; the Titans lose 10-3.
Press Interview: "That was an impressive performance and an incredible atmosphere." I go for "Praise Fans", which increases our Fans rating to 100.
In the next "episode", we'll handle weeks 11 (at DEN), 12 (vs CLE), and 13 (vs PIT).