Two quarters of poor execution, poor play-calling and a lack of intensity was enough.
“I couldn’t take it anymore,” said Keith Morris. “The Raiders shouldn’t have even been close to me, let alone leading at the half. I really let myself have it.”
Morris, playing as his beloved San Diego Chargers on Madden NFL 10, coasted through the first six games of the season, beating the computer by an average of 34 points. But Sunday he found himself trailing the lowly Raiders 13-3 at halftime.
“I’d love to say that the computer was outplaying me or that the computer was cheating,” he said. “But that simply wasn’t the case. I was beating myself. I wasn’t concentrating, I wasn’t taking the game seriously and you can’t do that at the All-Madden level and expect to win.”
Morris’ first half was marred by play-calling that was either overly aggressive (going for it on 4th-and-4 at his own 38-yard line) or too predictable (running his trusty wide receiver screen play three plays in a row, leading to a three-and-out). Many passes were thrown downfield into coverage when safer options for fewer yards were available. And on defense he was trying too hard for sacks and interceptions, giving up big play after big play.
“I thought it would be an easy win and I wanted to embarrass them and pad my stat totals,” he said. “Well, I was the one who got embarrassed. Also, I think my concentration was hurt by the fact that I was eating dinner and texting back and forth with my girlfriend.”
But faced with a 10-point deficit at the half, his assumption of a perfect season on the ropes, Morris took a look in the mirror.
“I took a leak, washed my hands and looked up and saw my reflection in the bathroom mirror,” he said. “And I didn’t like what I saw. I didn’t like what I had become. I saw a loser. I saw someone considering pressing the reset button. So I gave myself a talking to. Tensions were high, but everything stayed under control. I mainly just told myself that I was better than what I showed, and that I had to go back out into the living room and prove it – and whatever happens happens, but no hitting reset.”
His passion reignited – and his sandwich finished – Morris concentrated and executed through a textbook, three-minute scoring drive to open the third quarter and close the gap to 13-10. He then came up with a stop on defense, turned that into another seven points and was well on his way to a victory with a comfortable final score of 34-20.
“These are the games that championship teams win,” said Morris. “I’m proud of myself. And I’m proud of the tiny digital men I control. I couldn’t do it without them.”