Here at Stat Box Stories, we traditionally play as the underdog (or as a favorite team) when we put together articles using sports video games. For this weekend’s NFL Conference Championship Games, the decision was made to introduce a new type of article: Both Sides Story. With the games of such importance this weekend, instead of playing the game once, each game was played twice: once as each team involved in the match-up. Both playthroughs had full stats recorded, along with screenshot and video highlights; read on to find out how the Both Sides Story played out for the San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons in the 2013 NFC Championship Game!
Taking control of the 49ers on the road for their second consecutive NFC Championship Game, the game was an exciting opportunity to control new starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his dual-threat abilities on offense. San Francisco jumped out to the lead just over halfway through the opening quarter on a 3-yard touchdown run by Frank Gore. The quarter ended with a 23-yard Matt Bryant field goal to get Atlanta on the board and trailing by only 4 points.
On the ensuing kickoff to begin the second quarter, Ted Ginn, Jr. fumbled the ball and possession went right back to Atlanta. The Falcons wasted little time taking advantage of the opportunity, scoring from 1 yard out on a Michael Turner run to take a 10-7 lead. The next 49ers possession ended with a double whammy; tight end Vernon Davis broke his collarbone after making a catch and fumbled the ball away to Atlanta, setting up another scoring drive for the Falcons. With 4:04 left in the half, Matt Ryan found Roddy White from 3 yards out to go up 17-7.
Scoring became frantic at the end of the quarter, with Kaepernick finding Michael Crabtree deep for a 68-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to a field goal. With just over a minute left, Ryan led the Falcons into field goal range and went up 20-14 on a successful 43-yard field goal by Matt Bryant. In a move reminiscent of the Seahawks-Falcons game from the Divisional Round, however, a poor squib kick gave San Francisco the ball in Falcons territory with just enough time to set up a 37-yard field goal by David Akers to cut the lead to 20-17.
On the first drive of the 3rd Quarter, the 49ers chewed clock and took the lead for the first time since the opening quarter on a 27-yard scramble for a touchdown by Kaepernick. With 1:21 left in the quarter, however, Matt Ryan found Julio Jones on a 35-yard pass in the back of the end zone for a toe-tap touchdown.
With a field goal deficit, the 49ers were playing from behind in the final quarter. With 3:28 left in the game, a drive led by multiple bruising runs by Frank Gore was finished off with a 1-yard scoring run by LaMichael James to re-take the lead. The 49ers extended the lead to a full touchdown on a 36-yard field goal by David Akers just past the two-minute warning. That’s when the game again took on early similarities to the Seattle-Atlanta contest.
Only ten seconds after the Akers kick, Matt Ryan found a poorly-covered Roddy White for an 80-yard touchdown to tie the game up at 34. With 1:41 remaining on the clock, however, that left more than enough time for the 49ers. Kaepernick orchestrated long drive, converting first downs and forcing Atlanta to burn through all of their timeouts, and San Francisco was able to win the game on another 36-yard field goal by David Akers as time expired.
After such an exciting game in the first run of the NFC Championship, the playthrough using the Falcons was something of a letdown by comparison. The only points of the first quarter came on a 46-yard field goal by Matt Bryant. Early in the second quarter, the Falcons faced 4th-and-Goal at the San Francisco 2-yard-line and played for the touchdown; the gamble paid off when Matt Ryan connected with Tony Gonzalez to go up 10-0.
The Falcons added more points on a 22-yard field goal by Bryant with 3:33 left in the half before Atlanta found the end zone on yet another 4th-and-Goal conversion ending with a touchdown pass between Ryan and Gonzalez. With the score 20-0, the 49ers played for points with under a minute remaining, but were forced to settle for a 42-yard field goal and a 17-point deficit going into halftime.
Atlanta’s opening possession of the second half succeeded in both chewing clock as well as putting more distance between the Falcons and 49ers, ending with a 5-yard pass from Ryan to Harry Douglas to extend the lead to 27-3. Just one minute later, Colin Kapernick threw a 71-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis for San Francisco’s first touchdown of the game, but the two-point pass conversion attempt fell incomplete to leave the score at 27-9.
Early in the fourth quarter, Atlanta added more points with a 2-yard run by Michael Turner, and a turnover by San Francisco led to another Falcons possession and yet another touchdown when Ryan found Julio Jones for a 58-yard pass. San Francisco was able to add more points to their total on a 32-yard field goal with 2:40 remaining, but the game’s result had been long decided by that point.
Despite San Francisco being favored on the road in this game, the game where the 49ers were user-controlled was a much tougher battle to earn victory; by comparison, when Atlanta was user-controlled the game was a complete and utter rout. Despite the game results being split, Matt Ryan had the better quarterback performance in each game, throwing for a combined 721 yards, 7 touchdowns, and a single interception. Colin Kaepernick’s numbers were more modest, with 538 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. Kaepernick did contribute 49 yards on 3 rushes in the user-controlled game, however, including a 27-yard touchdown run.
When user-controlled, each team had a 100-yard rusher; Frank Gore rushed 29 times for 135 yards and a touchdown for the 49ers, while Michael Turner rushed 35 times for 102 yards and a touchdown in single game performances. Game playthroughs featured multiple 100-yard receivers in each game; in the San Francisco game, Michael Crabtree got 104 yards and a touchdown while Julio Jones (174 yards, 1 touchdown) and Roddy White (129 yards, 2 touchdowns) starred for the Falcons. In the Atlanta game it was all about tight ends, as Vernon Davis got 104 yards and a touchdown while Tony Gonzalez had 114 yards and two scores.
The team with more yards of total offense won each game, with Atlanta out-gaining the 49ers 385-337 and San Francisco topping the Falcons 463-368. The 49ers had the highest team rushing total in the San Francisco game with 190 yards, while the Falcons had the highest team passing total in the same game with 318 yards. The winning team in each game converted 19 first downs. San Francisco won despite losing the turnover battle 3-1, while Atlanta’s win came in a game where they forced 2 turnovers and only lost the ball once. In San Francisco’s loss, the 49ers were a woeful 1-for-10 on 3rd Down. The 49ers were also penalized 6 times for 60 yards in their loss; far and away the highest penalty total in either game.
The playthroughs are split, but in real-life only one team can represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLVII! Comment to let us know who you think will emerge victorious at the Georgia Dome, and let us know the scores of your own playthroughs using Madden NFL 13.