One thing to mention is that the seeding in Tecmo is a bit messed up. The 3-seed and 5-seed meet in the Wildcard round. This is likely either an oversight or something that couldn’t be corrected by the romhackers when they put in the extra divisions. Also, the tournament follows a standard format where the Round 1 winners will always know their next opponent immediately rather than real-life where the Wildcard round is a play-in round and the true tournament starts in the Divisional round. This is something that also happened on the original Tecmo.
I put COM labels on all non-Falcons teams and watched COM vs. COM matchups for all non-Falcons games. The results are below.
AFC: Bengals (5) at Steelers (3)
The playoffs started with a doozy. The Steelers were clearly the better team in the first half but took only a 17-14 lead into halftime. The Steelers offense seemed unstoppable and not because they kept getting huge plays; they ground out three long drives using relatively short gains. Bell in particular amassed 90 yards and 2 TDs. Meanwhile, Dalton did not complete a pass in the first half. So how did the Bengals keep it close? Special teams. The Steelers kept kicking it incredibly short to give the Bengals short fields. One kick return went to the Pit 8. They also fumbled away a kick from the Bengals.
Still, the Steelers likely wouldn’t keep screwing up like that. I expected them to pull away in the second half. The Bengals came out with an 80+ yard Green TD reception. Then the Steelers used their own big plays and an interception to build a 31-21 lead in the 4th quarter. The next drive saw 4th and 28 for the Bengals. With multiple missed tackles a Dalton-Bernard pass converted. Dalton-Green for a 40 yard TD soon after to make it 31-28. The Steelers missed a TD opportunity on the next drive but hit a FG to make it 34-28.
Another criminally short kick gave the Bengals a short field on the last drive. They got to the Pit 15 with 18 Tecmo seconds left (maybe 2 plays but not guaranteed). Dalton hit Eifert for a TD as time expired and the PAT was good. The Tecmo Bengals got further than the real-life Bengals have gotten since 1990, before Tecmo Super Bowl itself.
Final – 35-34, Bengals
NFC: Saints (5) at Vikings (3)
Ingram looked unstoppable at first. He ran with blazing speed and was popcorning defenders. Combined with Brees’s precision it seemed like a shootout that the Vikings wouldn’t be able to keep up with. The Vikings did the smart thing and fed Peterson on offense, converting a 4th and 1 on the way to a TD. At 7-7 in the 2nd quarter a season that had been very unkind to certain players took one more victim:
The Viking seemed to feed on this turn of events. The Saints, with McCown subbed in, started focusing on the pass more for some reason. Everson Griffen began destroying the Saints O-line and had about 5 or 6 sacks on the day. McCown was picked off twice and the Vikings scored a safety once. Meanwhile, the Vikings may have kept up with the Saints even if they were unstoppable like on their first drive. Peterson led the way with 234 rushing yards and 4 TDs. Despite the stat line, it wasn’t all Peterson. Bradford made some good plays especially on 3rd down. In the end, it turned into a blowout.
Final – 36-7, Vikings
AFC: Chiefs (6) at Broncos (4)
Jamaal Charles was a beast when I saw him in the season but he was injured on the first drive of the game. After two picked plays in which they were almost safety’d, KC punted it and Den fumbled the punt which KC returned deep in Den territory. They made 7 out of that. The KC defense then picked some plays and the offense made it 14-0. Den woke up after that. Siemian hit a wide open Sanders for an 85 yard TD. Miller made an appearance on D and a picked play caused a fumble which gave Den the ball deep. Anderson converted that gift to make it 14-14 at halftime. Den had 0 rushing yards at the half while Alex Smith led KC rushing with 44.
It was all Broncos in the second half. West was running very slow and getting minimal yardage. Smith got some 3rd down conversions but it wasn’t enough. Miller and Ware were a force and combined for about 7 sacks. Meanwhile, Den got the running game going and Siemian had success on the deep passing attack.
Final – 35-14, Broncos
NFC: Cardinals (6) at Rams (4)
Gurley remained a speed demon and wasted little time tearing off on a 60 yard TD rush. LA then wisely decided to stop feeding Gurley and put the offense on Keenum’s shoulders. The Cardinals D used this opportunity to record several sacks as they had little trouble getting through the LA o-line. Keenum still managed a TD pass to Austin. The Cardinal offense also started hot with Peterson runs and some nice passes from Palmer. At halftime the Cardinals led 17-14. Palmer was 71%, 146 pass yards, and 2 pass TDs.
In the second half LA finally gave the ball back to Gurley but the Cardinals figured out how to defend Gurley and kept smothering him. On offense the Cardinals fell in love with the Palmer sneak which had predictable results until Palmer inexplicably ran up the middle for 20 yards on a 3rd down. The Cardinals went up 27-14. LA made a move for a comeback on a Keenum-Gurley 70 yard passing TD in the 4th, making it 27-20. But the Cardinals did a good job killing clock with the ball back and got an insurance FG.
In addition to his good day passing Palmer led Ari with 55 rushing yards. Gurley turned in 104 rushing yards, 86 receiving yards, and 2 TDs in the loss. Keenum contributed 33%, 126 passing yards, and an interception.
Final – 30-21, Cardinals
AFC: Bengals (5) at Jaguars (2)
Offensive explosion in the first half as between the two teams there was only one punt. The Bengals started with a huge gain on a pass to Bernard but then he fumbled it away. Bortles looks like a great QB on Tecmo. He was decently fast and accurate and helped convert some plays while Ivory also had great speed and elusiveness. The Jaguars scored TDs on all three of their first half possessions while Ivory tallied 71 yards and a TD. The Bengals got two more big plays after that lost fumble which kept them close. It was 21-14, Jaguars at halftime.
The defenses took over a 3rd quarter that saw 3 turnovers. Ivory started the half by coughing it up. Dalton decided it’d be a great idea to throw into double and triple coverage and was picked twice. The second pick led to a Jax TD to make it 28-14. The Jaguars were in control from there. The Bengals couldn’t get the big plays going in the second half. They scored a garbage time TD but wouldn’t pull within a score. Dalton finished with 33%, 133 yards, 2 TDs, and 2 Ints. Onto the AFC Championship for the Jaguars which is a little bit further than they got in real life.
Final – 34-21, Jaguars
NFC: Vikings (3) at Falcons (2)
With how difficult regular season games got to be I knew I was in for it here. I got blasted in my first try of this game. I decided I had to change the playbook and focus more on stopping the run. At this point a single missed tackle on a running play probably means giving up a TD. I’m not an expert of Tecmo playbooks since I usually just use the default but I found some tips online. I got rid of plays that I never used (playaction) and focused on rushing plays that didn’t take long to set up and a combination of short and long passing plays.
The Viking defense still made life miserable. Griffin busted through the line immediately on pretty much every play. On one punt Patterson, the returner, coughed it up. Alex Mack scooped it up and took it all the way to the house for the first score. On the next possession I missed Peterson once so of course he was gone for the tying score. Both teams lost a fumble each after that but the Vikings still made a late drive at the end of the half to go up 10-7. The Falcons had 0 offensive yards in the first half while Peterson was 3 for 102 yards and a TD.
Alford had a beautiful diving pick to stop one dangerous Viking drive. I still couldn’t get anything going but at least was stopping the Vikings too. Then they left Julio wide open and Ryan hit him for a 70 yard score to take the lead. That is, until I missed Peterson again and he went the distance to give the lead back to Min. Next drive the Falcons used short gains to drive down the field the hard way until Freeman managed to bust through the line for a 20 yard TD late in the 4th. 21-17, Falcons. On the Vikings’ last chance I played a sort of run-prevent to stop Peterson from busting another one. The Vikings got some gains but ran out of time. The Falcons finished with 150 yards with 74 of those going to Julio. Peterson alone had 202 yards and 2 TDs.
Final – 21-17, Falcons
AFC: Broncos (4) at Patriots (1)
A.k.a. The Fumble Bowl. This was a crazy game. There were five lost fumbles and an interception between the two teams in the first half alone. The Broncos either scored or turned it over on every possession. Anderson lost two fumbles himself but did manage to break through for a TD rush after Den recovered a Brady fumble. The Bronco D-line continued to be dominant as Brady was given no time in the first half. Someone broke through every play right away and it wasn’t even Miller. The Broncos, fearful of the clock, kicked a late FG too early and gave NE time and a short field for them to get on the board with a FG. It was 10-3, Broncos, at halftime. There were 115 yards of offense in the first half, 25 of which were the Patriots’. The Broncos did not complete a pass in the first half.
Some nice defense caused the first punt from the Broncos. Then the Patriot returner fumbled it. The ball bounced for a while among four Broncos before the punter finally picked it up and ran it in for a score. Down two scores in the 4th Ware of the Broncos continued to make life miserable for Brady. The Broncos defense got a stop on 4th down and then the offense got an insurance TD. It was pretty much over from there. Ware had four sacks on his own in the victory.
At the beginning of the season I thought it’d be a Patriots vs. Falcons Super Bowl, just like the real life matchup. The Broncos’ defense and a slippery ball apparently took offense to my expectations.
Final – 24-10, Broncos
NFC: Cardinals (6) at Cowboys (1)
The WRs showed off their skills early as both Bryant and Fitzgerald saved drives with jumping or diving catches. Bryant went on to score a TD while Palmer found a wide open Gresham for a TD. After that, the offenses stalled. Romo threw two picks, both in Cardinal territory with one in the endzone. It was a 7-7 tie at halftime.
The Cardinals got it going in the third quarter. Johnson went for 70 yards to set up a TD. Catanzaro hit a 50 yard FG to make it a 17-7 Cardinal lead. The Cowboys couldn’t respond. The Cardinals always had good coverage and good rushing defense and a healthy amount of picked plays to derail drives. It became a rout in the 4th. The Cardinals scored on a Palmer sneak and on a picked Cowboy reverse where they knocked down Bryant before he could get the pitch, resulting in a fumble that was returned to the house. Romo finished with 3 Ints. Palmer finished 66%, 206 yards, 3 pass TDs, and 1 rush TD.
Final – 38-7, Cardinals
AFC Championship: Broncos (4) at Jaguars (2)
Some time ago an in-law of mine got drunk and enacted a five minute skit in which he declared the true Super Bowl LI wasn’t Patriots vs. Falcons; we only think so because of the Illuminati. Instead, the real Super Bowl was Jaguars vs. Falcons. Because of that and because of the contrast between the Tecmo Jaguars and the real-life Jaguars I was pulling for them in this game.
The 1st quarter was filled with stuffed Broncos runs and the Broncos’ D-line continuing to destroy plays and O-linemen. The Jaguars used runs to score first in the 2nd quarter. The Broncos used a curious strategy of running the reverse three straight times and then not running it to get Thomas wide open for a score. It was 7-7 at halftime. The Jaguars did not complete a pass in the first half, largely due to the Broncos’ D-line. However, Bortles was the leading rusher out of both teams going 3 for 55 yards.
Bortles had enough of the Bronco D-line and threw a laser TD pass to Robinson while under pressure to open the 3rd. The Broncos had to work a little harder but the Jaguars neglecting to have anyone in coverage on a 3rd and 4 helped them keep a drive alive and later score. Ware then made his presence known using two sacks to kill a promising Jax drive. The Broncos then scored their third straight TD on a Siemian-Anderson pass. Thomas of Jax fumbled the ball away on the next drive. The Jax defense got a stop to keep hope alive but there was less than half a minute left. The offense failed to get the tying score. Demaryius Thomas ended the day with 159 yards and 2 TDs. Siemian was 53%, 207 yards, and 3 TDs. However, most impressive was how the Bronco D-line continued to make life miserable for opposing QBs. I’d say that’s the main reason that led to the Broncos being AFC Champs.
Final – 21-14, Broncos
NFC Championship: Cardinals (6) at. Falcons (2)
Due to emulator troubles I played 9 quarters of this game. The first try was an epic back-and-forth struggle in which Julio had a leaping catch for a late go-ahead score. Then as I attempted to get a screenshot (Alt+E) I accidentally hit Alt+R (reset). On the next try I got out to a promising 10-0 start in the 1st quarter but then my computer crashed.
Anyway, on the game that counted I got out to another promising start. The first drive was comprised of short gains into FG range before it stalled. The second drive featured a heavy dose of Freeman right up the middle which was my best run play at this point. It paid off with a TD to make it 10-0. Defensively things were going great as the Cardinals couldn’t get anything going. It could have been 17-0 but Ryan overthrew a wide open Julio. Freeman was the leading rusher and receiver in the first half with 57 total yards and a TD. The Cardinals had 8 first half yards total.
Unfortunately, it didn’t stay that way. Palmer used short gains to drive down the field and then get on the board to Gresham. Coleman then had a nice kick return which he of course fumbled away. The Cardinals drove to 1st and goal. Their 3rd quarter drives took so long that this is when the 3rd ended.
Thanks in part to a picked play the Falcons held the Cardinals until 4th and goal at the 8. I thought they’d kick a tying FG but early in the 4th they went for it. Palmer’s pass was defended and the ball went to the Falcons. Freeman gained a lot of space by going off for 40 yards and it seemed the Falcons were in business. But then of course there was another fumble. The Cardinals likely had one chance left. Some stout D made it 4th down again and the defense managed yet another key stop! With little time left the offense just screwed around (no kneel-down in Tecmo) until time expired. Freeman ended with 104 total yards in a game where neither team went above 160.
Final – 10-7, Falcons
I could have put the MAN tag on the NFC but decided to have this go as a COM vs. COM matchup. Both offenses started hot with Peterson going on long runs and Brady finding different receivers. Both QBs were surprisingly fallible as Brady let himself get sacked standing forever a couple times and Rodgers had to get bailed out by his receivers a few times. Brady failed to get a TD after 2nd and goal at the 2 and that resulted in a halftime score of 14-10, NFC. Despite that, Brady went 80%, 116 yards, and a TD. Peterson put in 52 yards and a TD.
The AFC started with big plays in the second half to take a 17-14 lead. They used a picked play to derail the next NFC drive. Brady had a nice play where he narrowly avoided a safety to hit Edelman for a huge gain but then Edelman fumbled it away. After that Rodgers finally started making BS completions in coverage like he did against the Falcons to retake the lead. Back and forth after that with Charles getting a huge run and Tate bailing Rodgers out with a diving TD grab. With time running out Brady hit Miller for a long gain but Miller was tragically stopped 20 yards short.
Final – 28-24, NFC
Falcons (2) vs. Broncos (4)
After seeing them demolish offenses all postseason long I had great fear of the Bronco D-line. Star Wars has taught us that fear leads to the dark side. However, there are some groups, like the Sith, that derive power from the dark side. The Sith predominantly favor red and black. Thus, perhaps red and black groups get power from fear. That’s the only somewhat reasonable explanation I have for what happened in this game.
The Super Bowl started with Grade-A bullshit. The opening kick went to the Broncos and was covered well. The returner fumbled it. However, it was recovered by another Bronco who found a crease and zoomed off to the Atl 15. A Trufant sack helped prevent a TD. Both teams were stopped on their next possessions which took the rest of the 1st quarter.
Now to give myself some precious time before Ryan got swallowed by the Den D I called a shotgun play: the only one I had which involved everyone going deep. Everyone was covered but Ryan had time. I decided to just lob one up for Julio and see what happened. Julio made a jumping catch while the two guys on him dove for a ball that would never get close to the ground. 80 yard TD Julio.
I got too aggressive on defense and let Trufant get taken out of the play and of course no CPU player had a shot at stopping the boosted Anderson. Den led 10-7. I soon after called shotgun again. Again everyone was covered so I sent another 80 yard pass deep. And again Julio leaped up to snag it for a TD. Den had no time to score before the half. It was 14-10, Atl at the half. Atl had 0 rushing yards. Siemian was 33% and 36 yards. Anderson had 77 yards and a TD. But the true star was Julio with 160 yards and 2 TDs.
Atl started with the ball but the Den kicker went full power and I barely got Coleman out of his own endzone (which is a safety on Tecmo). The only play I had that I could be reasonably certain wouldn’t result in a safety was the shotgun. Again Ryan had surprising time (thanks o-line!) but nobody open. So why not try Julio a third time? Julio didn’t quite make it in for a TD but got a 96 yard reception. Freeman got the first non-Julio TD and yards. The two score lead was short lived as I missed another tackle on Anderson who shot out for his own long score.
If it’s not broke why fix it? Long pass to Julio again who this time dove into double coverage to snag the ball instead of jumping. 60 yard gain. Then Freeman fumbled the ball away. Den pulled out some of their own bullshit catches to convert 3rd downs and drive within the 10 early in the 4th. Some staunch run defense and a diving play by Alford kept them out of the endzone and brought up 4th and goal from the 4. It was an Anderson run and Trufant was there for the stop at the 2.
Of course, no room to operate on offense so what choice did I have but to go shotgun again? Julio pulled one down for 80 this time. Wasn’t able to get in the endzone from there but Matt Bryant made it 24-17. There was little time left for the Broncos. Trufant and an energized Falcons defense stopped them three times as time ran out.
The below stat screen has pretty much all the stats you need to know. Julio fed off the dark side in this game.
Final – 24-17, Falcons
Bonus Content: Simulated Season
As a kid I not only played some Tecmo seasons but simulated some as well. I figured I’d simulate a season and see what a non-human-influenced season would turn out like. Here are some things I noticed:
- The Falcons unfortunately went 7-9 and finished 3rd in the NFC South. The Saints went 4-12 and were in the cellar.
- The Jaguars once again pulled in the 2-seed.
- The Steelers were the first team to clinch their division yet finished only 9-7.
- 4 of the NFC playoff teams finished 11-5: the 1, 2, 3, and 5 seeds.
- The NFC North finished like this:
- The 5 and 6 seeds faced off in the NFC Championship
- The Simulated Tecmo Super Bowl 51 was a rematch of Super Bowl 43 between the Steelers and Cardinals
The playoffs went like this:
AFC Wildcard – Steelers (9-7, 3) vs. Bills (11-5, 5) -> 19-7, Steelers
NFC Wildcard – Bears (11-5, 3) vs. Cardinals (11-5, 5) -> 28-21, Cardinals
AFC Wildcard – Chiefs (9-7, 4) vs. Texans (10-6, 6) -> 27-14, Texans
NFC Wildcard – Cowboys (8-8, 4) vs. Lions (10-6, 6) -> 30-10, Lions
AFC Divisional – Jaguars (13-3, 2) vs. Steelers (10-7, 3) -> 21-16, Steelers
NFC Divisional – Panthers (11-5, 2) vs. Cardinals (12-5, 5) -> 20-10, Cardinals
AFC Divisional – Patriots (13-3, 1) vs. Texans (11-6, 6) -> 34-28, Patriots
NFC Divisional – Seahawks (11-5, 1) vs. Lions (11-6, 6) -> 34-24, Lions
AFC Championship – Patriots (14-3, 1) vs. Steelers (11-7, 3) -> 20-14, Steelers
NFC Championship – Cardinals (13-5, 5) vs. Lions (12-6, 6) -> 24-10, Cardinals
Super Bowl – Steelers (12-7, 3) vs. Cardinals (14-5) -> 31-21, Cardinals