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We've finally reached the point in the "It's Tecmo Season" campaign where we can crown a meaningful champion. Of course we've already named six division champions this season, but this isn't something you'd hang a banner over...unless you are the Minnesota Timberwolves. While in the Target Center this past fall, I found myself giggling at the 2003, 2004, and 200NobodyCares MIDWEST DIVISION CHAMPIONS banners. It was hard to discern if these were more depressing than the adjacent tribute to Malik Sealy who was killed by a drunk driver or not. Ultimately I found the winner when I saw the "MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES: WE DRAFTED LUC LONGLEY" banner billowing proudly in the air conditioning.

Back to the business at hand, the Miami Dolphins are a bit like Longley after consecutive baskets: Absolutely in the zone. Ten straight wins will do that to a team. On top of that, they have won two straight playoff games to earn a trip to Rich Stadium. The skeptics will rightfully point out that Seattle and Denver are the Tecmo equivalents of eleven Luc Longleys and Bill Wenningtons respectively, but those were still big wins nonetheless. Will this momentum be enough to carry them past the Big Red Dishonest Dynasty from western New York?

First Quarter

First Buffalo TD a minute and six seconds into the game? What took so long?
Bills Drive #1

With the crowd still abuzz after an inspiring pregame tribute to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, the Bills give them more to roar about after Thurman Thomas busts off a huge gain on the game's first play to the Miami 27. Sensing Miami's ineptitude, they run the same direct snap to Thomas and he somnambulates the remaining distance to the end zone untouched.

7-0, Buffalo

Miami Drive #1

Laser Limbs goes under center with a look of confidence that only an Isotoner/Weight Loss pitch man can duplicate. He rolls out on first down and connects with Mark Duper on a quick strike that brings the Dolphins across midfield.

Sammie Smith is swallowed up on first down setting up 2nd and 13. Marino has a lot of options as he drops back to pass, but elects to take off scrambling. Knifing through the defense with astounding dexterity for a man with no less than twelve knee reconstructions, Marino is able to pick up the first down...

...before his knee falls off. In typical Tecmo fashion, the one hope that decent football fans everywhere had is now laying on the Tecmo turf with his knee in two pieces. Don Shula, looking like his daughter just told him that she is leaving to college to pursue a career in the beastiality industry, mutters the words that no coach ever wants to say...

Get me 50 cc's of TrimSpa, ASAP
"Get Scott Mitchell loose." If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times: To have any chance to win in the playoffs, it's imperative you keep your Mitchell tight. Having to loosen your Mitchell can only lead to disaster.

Mitchell trots onto the field to the cheers of the Buffalo crowd and gives the ball to Smith for a paltry two yards. The next play sees a swarm of Bill defenders in Mitchell's face and he wisely throws it out of bounds to a crumpled up Miami player. On 3rd and 8 he is able to avoid the rush on the roll pass, but his lob sails out to the back of the end zone. Pete Stoyanavich is called upon to bank home a field goal and he does just that.

7-3, Buffalo

Bills Drive #2

Operating from their own 38, the Bills go playaction on first down and the result is an incomplete pass. Figuring that there is no point in messing around, they simply go back to the direct Thomas snap and he flies untouched through the middle again before finally being dragged down at the Dolphins' 24. What happened on the next play, however, is the second display of Buffalo douchebaggery of the day...

Buffalo goes back to the playaction pass and this time QB Bills hits a leaping Thurman Thomas. Thomas comes down with the ball and is immediately hit. As he tries to stretch it across the goal line, he fumbles and it goes out of bounds out the side of the end zone. Touchback, right? Wrong. Even though I am 100% sure that Tecmo programmer Fujigasha Majiksawa was well-versed enough in the rules of American football that he coded this obscure nuance into the game, the CPU has overriden its own digital brain and awarded the ball to the Bills at the one.

In short, fuck you Buffalo.

With all options open, the Bills choose the lowest blow in the playbook and let Jamie Mueller score a touchdown.

14-3, Buffalo

Dolphins Drive #2

After a brigade of detectives was unable to find any traces of a defense on the Dolphins' sideline, Scott Mitchell has realized it's all up to him...to give the ball to Tony Paige and let him pick up nine yards.

End of 1st Quarter: Buffalo-14, Miami-3

Second Quarter

Dolphins Drive #2 (Continued)


The Dolphins pick the same Paige dive to start the second quarter, but unfortunately, so do the Bills and the result is no gain. On 3rd and 1, it's pretty apparent that the Bills picked another run because all of the eligible receivers and at least one of the ineligible ones (Galbreath) are open. Mitchell floats a beautiful pass downfield to Mark Clayton and all of a sudden a sliver of false hope has appeared with the Fish down at the 11 yard line.

The Dolphins continue to ride that Paige play and he gains another blue collar three yards. But on second down, the Bills rush seven guys directly at Scott Mitchell. Scott, fleeing for his life in the face of a CPU-aided blitzkrieg, somehow finds Ferrell Edmunds who shimmies into the end zone for a pretty impressive touchdown from the Scott Mitchell-led Dolphins.

14-10, Buffalo

Bills Drive #3

Stoyanavich almost boots the ball to the opposing 35 on the ensuing kickoff setting Buffalo up with great field position, to complement their other inherent advantages. With the Bills in the shotgun it's pretty obvious which play is going to be picked and hey, the Dolphins finally caught on! The snap to Thomas is swallowed up for a loss of four and Buffalo's first bad offensive play of the day. Thurman off-tackle sets the Bills up in a 3rd and 9. QB Bills goes back to pass and a decent Miami rush comes at him. Just when it looks like Buffalo may be unthinkably, PUNT KICKING, the nameless gunslinger finds Keith McKeller for fifteen and a fresh set of downs.

An incompletion and a Mueller handoff (which as you all know, consistently result in the same amount of earned yardage) have Buffalo facing 3rd and long. Going playaction, QB Bills has James Lofton and Thurman wide open and TD ready, but instead he decides to throw it to a covered Andre Reed who in a move as surprising as the cancellation of The John Henson Project, still makes the catch for a first down at the 11.

The Dolphins actually pick the next play, which is the fake-to-Mueller-pitch-to-Thomas play. For some reason on Tecmo, that always seems to go for yards even when it's picked, but even so, I'm sure I'm not alone in still blaming Buffalo for the easy touchdown.

21-10, Buffalo

Dolphins Drive #3

The Dolphins picked a good time to learn how to tackle
With 96 yards to cover and just over a minute to do it, Scott Mitchell is heard remarking as he takes the field that he is up to the task. After Sammie Smith makes a diving grab at the fifty and carries the ball into Buffalo territory, I'm beginning to believe him. I'm not going to validate his other claim of "I let the dogs out" though, because that's just fucking stupid.

The next three plays make him pay for his disrespect to the venerable Baha Men after Leon Seals takes his head off, the Bills nearly intercept his 2nd and 18 pass, and Shane Conlan sacks him for bailing from the pocket like a pussy when he had two receivers open downfield. Stoyanavich is called on to hit from 56 and his attempt bangs into the upright and back into play, which in Tecmo, like every other form of football except maybe Canadian, is not worth three points.

Bills Drive #4

With only 18 seconds left in the half, QB Bills hits an open James Lofton who sprints past his diving defender. A touchdown seems inevitable, but the poor-tackling Miami lynch mob catches him at the five and simultaneously falls on him to prevent him from putting more points on the board.

End of 2nd Quarter: Buffalo-21, Miami-10


In each of their previous two playoff games, Miami gave up 24 points to the opposition and won the game. I will predict that if Miami holds Buffalo to only a field goal in the second half, they will win again. I also predict that if Miami holds Buffalo to only a field goal in a half of playoff football, that the planet Jupiter will grow a mouth and start eating itself. Meanwhile, let's all watch the Tecmo blimp. Yay, blimp!

3rd Quarter

Dolphins Drive #4

After the requisite twelve men have separately kicked the live ball, I hope the Dolphins recover it
With the Dolphins starting from their own 40, Scott Mitchell puts on display a theory I've had for years in MAN vs. MAN Tecmo games. When quarterbacking with Marino, you never get any of the bullshit jumping completions that are often necessary for wins in close games because his photon transmitter connected to his shoulder is incapable of throwing a ball with anything but flat trajectory. Sometimes it's better to put Mitchell in, lob some shitty passes up for grabs, and hope you get lucky. The COM Dolphins have done just that- albeit due to Buffalo-brokered injury- and Sammie Smith came down with the ball for a touchdown.

21-17, Buffalo

Bills Drive #5

Starting at their own six, Thomas takes the pitch and gets five yards. The Bills then go to Mueller, a play which has also been picked by the Dolphins. Please contain your deserving cries of disbelief over the Dolphins picking the Mueller play for a moment, because he puts the ball on the turf. After the standard period of mindlessly booting the ball around the field, Jarvis Williams picks it up, coasts into the end zone, and puts the Fish in the lead for the first time today!

24-21, Miami

Bills Drive #6

On first down both teams again pick the Mueller play, which defies comprehension. But the result is a one yard loss for the Bills, so I can live with that. The Bills then wisely fake the handoff to Mueller and instead toss it to Thomas, who looks to be going for a bunch around the corner but is corralled near the sticks to set up a crucial 3rd and 2 for the evil empire. Naturally, Thomas takes the ball and kicks it outside for a huge gain down to the ten yard line.

Thomas takes one more handoff to the two, before Buffalo gives Mueller his second touchdown of the game.

28-24, Buffalo

His heels have clearly broken the plane
Dolphins Drive #5

Seven years after their last play, the Dolphin offense finally steps onto the field again and takes over at the 44. And Mitchell is on serious fire right now as he hits Mark Duper in stride. Duper streaks another ten yards before being horse-collared down at the goal line. Paige hs no trouble picking up the last yard and the Scott Mitchell-led Dolphins are going toe-to-toe with the Bills, which both thrills and perplexes me at the same time.

31-28, Miami

Bills Drive #7

With only 13 seconds left, Buffalo manages to squeeze in a zero yard gain by Mueller and an incomplete pass. To the fourth we go; finish the job Mitchell!

End of 3rd Quarter: Miami-31, Buffalo-28

4th Quarter

The Rise of the Fourth Reich
Bills Drive #7 (Continued)

On a huge third down, the Dolphins again neglect to cover James Lofton and he hauls in pass and brings it down to the Miami 30.

On th ensuing play, QB Bills takes off to scramble and picks up three yards and GETS HURT! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Zack Morris Time Out
Realize what is happening here. As if the Miami/Buffalo showdown wasn't interesting enough with the winning streak, we-hate-Buffalo, and Mueller-is-a-slow-white-man subplots, we now have a fantastic back-and-forth battle that is going to hinge on the play of Scott Mitchell and the Fourth Reich in a crucial fourth quarter! Sweet merciful Bob Nelson...

Miami picks Reich's first play and he stands there like a statue of Goebbels as John Offerdahl drops him for a huge loss. On 3rd and a kilometer, Reich ignores the open receivers and tosses an incomplete pass to a covered Thurman Thomas five yards away. But his poor play is forgiven, if only momentarily, when Scott Norwood (I know, I know) drills a 55-yarder right down the middle.


Dolphins Drive #6

With 3:22 remaining, the ball on the 34, and the game tied at 31, Scott Mitchell again takes the stage to the hush of the transfixed audience.

Ferrell Edmunds stars in: The Stretch of Destiny
Out of the gun, the Bills blitz Mitchell viciously. Our hero wisely lets Shane Conlan give him his medicine rather than risk a pick. On 2nd and 23, Sammie Smith takes the handoff around the end and is able to get the Dolphins almost back to the original line of scrimmage at the 33. The Dolphins call a timeout and have an impassioned discussion about how in the hell Scott Mitchell can be playing this well. They decide not to tempt fate and break the huddle with the Tony Paige up top play. The bruising fullback rewards them with fourteen yards and a new set of downs near midfield.

The Fish use another timeout and set up the roll pass. Mitchell gets to the top of the screen and has Clayton wide open downfield but gets stage fright and can't pull the trigger. He doesn't get stage fright in other ways, however, as he pisses his pants and picks up two yards on a scramble. Miami is forced to burn their last timeout with 2:15 left to get Mitchell a new set of trousers and to shame him with their hurtful comments.

Refreshed by a shot of Gatorade and Gold Bond powder, Mitchell drops back to pass again. He throws to an uncovered Ferrell Edmunds but overshoots him. But Edmunds pulls off an indescribably great diving catch and gets up and sprints towards paydirt. The Bills catch him at the goal line but in his dying moments, Ferrell stretches the ball across the goal line for the go-ahead score.

Ferrell Edmunds: 1964-2007. "Parent of five and hero to the Leonardite"

38-31, Miami

Bills Drive #8

Starting at their own 38 with 1:34 remaining, the douche bags' season rests on the Fourth Reich's shoulders. After a tipped ball on first down, Thurman Thomas takes a handoff and slashes his way to the 48 for a first down with 1:05 left. The Bills burn a timeout to appeal to the CPU to pull a rabbit out of its silicon hat.

Out of the shotgun, Reich hits Andre Reed for a gain to the Buffalo 39 with :52 on the clock and another first down for the Bills. Out of the timeout, Reich rolls out to the bottom of the screen. He fires back all the way across the field to the top where James Lofton is wide open in the end zone, which as we all know, never works. The ball falls harmlessly incomplete.

33 seconds left

From under center, Franklin drops back and has nobody open whatsoever. He heaves a prayer into the end zone destined for a triple-covered Andre Reed, but it flies out the back for an incompletion.

9 seconds left

For the game

And the right to go to the Super Bowl

P.S. Fuck you, Buffalo

Out of the shotgun, Reich stands on the NFL shield for an eternity looking for an open receiver. Time has long since dwindled off the clock. Reich finally lobs the ball to Thurman Thomas looking for a miracle....and it sails out of the end zone. The Bills have been destroyed. The peasants rejoice.

Closing Thought

Absolutely amazing game. I never would have thought that Boise State, I mean, Miami could have pulled this one out amidst such stiff obstacles. Scott Mitchell is not only player of the game, but Time's Man of the Year for his superhuman play in felling the hated Bills. Onto the Super Bowl, Scotty! And Marino, no need to come back. We've found our hero, thanks.