I want to thank Greg for running an outstanding first tournament. From the space, to the raffle prizes, to the little Tecmo touches that add so much more to the day. It was a lot of work and having to survive a power outage just added more to the day! Also, looking at that f'n trophy!
It's hard for me to have an adequate description of all the day's events, but maybe I can at least recap it from my perspective. I'm still in a bit of shock that I survived the day as the last man standing. Especially the way it happened.
Here's my best summary of the day.
Group Play- First I want to say that I really enjoyed my group. I thought it was fun, and I think it's always fun when everyone in the group wins a game. Also, I think everyone ended up winning 2 games on the day, so double win!
Game 1: Rams - 21 vs. Det - 38: Lost to Ed's Lions 38-21. This was a case of a couple of unlucky breaks and complete dominance on Ed's part. He amassed over 400 yards. He ran the ball well with Barry and I gotta say it was one of the best Rodney Peete performances I've seen. I couldn't stop him. I think 38 points is the most I ever gave up in a tourney. At that point, I thought it was going to be a long day. I didn't know it was going to be my only loss.
Game 2: Raiders 31 vs. KC 7: Angelo called the matchup and I picked the Raiders, not knowing his playing style. I didn't want to give him Bo in case I couldn't out-tap him or if he was a good runner. It ended up being the right call as the Raiders defense did enough to stop Okoye and Co. early.
Game 3: Chargers 21 vs. Min 7: I called the matchup and Andrew picked Minny. Again, not knowing someone's style means you could be putting a good defense into their hands. Luckily, I was up big early by two scores. Andrew adjusted pretty well and I think we exchanged TDs second half.
The Bracket- I won my group, but being 2-1, I was a #8 seed. Looking ahead, I knew I would have to face the #1 seed (Erik), but I tried not to think about it.
Round of 32: Browns - 14 vs. N.O. - 0 (forfeit): Unfortunately, this game never really got completed. I won the coin toss vs. Bryan and figured I would call a lower tier matchup since he was new to tournaments. In the one and done bracket, I wanted to give myself any advantage I could. Thanks to QB Browns, I was up 14-0 in the second quarter when POW! the power went out. After a 10 minute outage, the power in the place came back on. Bryan unfortunately told me he was leaving and I ended up taking the forfeit win.
Round of 16: Raiders - 14 vs. Chi. - 7: Ray and I always seem to face in any tournament we both attend. He called the matchup and I'm guessing it's because he felt like he could run the ball with either team. Having played earlier with the Raiders worked in my favor as I was able to get ahead with the first score. It was a tense fourth quarter, but the Raiders held on.
Quarterfinals: Chargers - 17 vs. Den. -14: Erik, the number 1 seed, knocked me out of the New York tournament in the round of 8 last October on a last second play that still rung in my head. That tourney was my best performance in the last two years and to have it slip away in that fashion stung a lot. I like both teams, but stuck with S.D. and the magic of Billy Joe. The Chargers started the game ferociously, breaking out to a 14-0 lead until late in the 2nd quarter. Erik had the ball at half, but he wanted to make sure to be within striking distance. Too much time was left on the clock before the half and the Broncos cut the deficit to 14-7 at halftime. Broncos had the ball and Erik marched down the field methodically and next thing I knew it was tied 14-14. I had the ball in the 4th quarter and after a hard-fought first down, Butts cut inside and fumbled the ball. Broncos recovered in Chargers territory. All I could think was that I couldn't believe I blew a 14-0 lead and was about to lose. Luckily the Tecmo gods were smiling upon me as Erik marched inside the 30 and then Humphrey fumbled the ball! Chargers recovered with about 3 minutes to go. I knew that I couldn't risk turning the ball over again, so I was able to run the clock down and march into FG range. John Carney nailed the kick with less than 10 seconds to go and down went the #1 seed. Another crazy tight contest with Erik as usual.
Semifinals: Chiefs - 23, Mia - 21: From what I gather, people think of this as a bait matchup for me, being that I like Dan and the Dolphins. That being said, so does Barletti as I found out. It's another matchup where I don't mind either team but I felt I would have a more balanced attack with KC so I picked them. This was another tight game and I really felt Barletti had the edge, especially early on. He's a good passer and the Dolphins are a top tier passing team so it was hard to stop. With Miami up 14-7 late in the second, I was faced with 4th and 7 in my own territory. I decided to go for it and KC converted the first down. This allowed Lowery to kick a FG before half to make it 14-10. KC scored on their first possession of the second half to take the lead 17-14. There was a bit of a misstep on Miami's part in the 3rd quarter, putting in Scott Mitchell and throwing a bomb to try to go for a homerun ball. KC picked off the pass and helped turn the game in KC's favor. The Chiefs were up 17-14 when they had to settle for a Lowery FG to go up 20-14. On Miami's next drive they moved the ball quickly and Marino caught the bottom receiver (Duper) who broke a tackle and outran my guy for a score to take the lead 21-20. I truly believe that it was a blessing that he scored because I didn't think I could stop the pass at that point. The clock would have ticked down too much and I wouldn't have had enough time for Lowery to do his thing. There was about 3 mins left on the clock when I got the ball and the Chiefs got into FG range pretty quickly. There was under 30 second on the clock when DeBerg spotted "Chicken Alfredo" Roberts wide open over the middle. The ball bounced two pixels in front of Roberts, but if he would have caught it, it would have been a TD. It was a risky play, but I thought to try it because who knows what happens on a FG, especially under pressure. Luckily, Lowery is almost always money, and the Chiefs won this one in the final seconds.
Finals: Cowboys - 16, Jets - 13: This was the third time I was playing Shawn in a Tournament Final. Needless to say, I was 0-2 against him in Finals and 0-2 against him in tournaments all-time. In the last NJ Tournament, 4 years ago, Shawn and I faced off in a SD-TB matchup in which Haddix made a clutch INT to seal the deal. I also lost to Shawn two years ago in NYC against Tampa (again) with Minnesota, scoring a measly 3 points. Shawn called the matchup again this time and went Cowboys-Jets. I snatched up the Cowboys and their defense came up big. After squandering an opening possession, the Cowboys kept the Jets out of the endzone on a goalline stand and forced a FG. It was 3-0 Jets in the second when I was able to finally score my first TD against Shawn in four years. The Jets kicked a FG to make it 7-6 at half. I was happy just to have the lead at halftime. While the Jets had the ball to start the 2nd half, the tide turned when O'Brien threw a pick on a called play. Emmitt and the Cowboys then marched down the field and scored to give Dallas a two score lead. In the 4th, with the Jets near midfield and just out of field goal range, they went for it on 4th and 10. With a called play, the Cowboys took over on downs and it seemed all but sealed with under 4 minutes to go. Just then, with 3 minutes left, Aikman threw his first pick. Jets got a quick JJ to bring them inside the 5 and punched it in with 2 minutes to go. Not getting the onside kick, it seemed like the Cowboys had this in the bag. But, on a called play and a remarkably ill-conceived toss across the field, the Jets got the ball back with 23 seconds to go. One final play. I called pass 4 (shotgun). Jets called the other shotgun. Eason drops back... but too far back. The Cowboys D-Line swarms him and sacks him in the endzone for the safety and a Dallas victory. 16-13 final score. gg Shawn
Final Comments: It has been 11 years since I last won an in-person tournament. That was the first ever tournament I ran in NYC and the venue closed a few months later. After Erik hosted a tourney in CT the next year in '08, I didn't really think Tecmo was going to be a thing in the Northeast. But slowly the Tecmoers started coming out of the woodwork. Finally winning one again, after finishing second five times, definitely means something to me. While I participate these days more for the camaraderie, I feel happy winning one again. Thank you Greg for a great tournament and thank you to all the Tecmoers for keeping the game alive so that I can continue to have the "Tecmo experience."