Eric “Problem” Wright versus Zack “Serious Moe” Lane. Arguably the two greatest Madden players of all time faced off in the second match of the semi-finals. Problem, with a chip on his shoulder due to not winning a Madden Challenge since 2013. And Serious Moe, also with a chip on his shoulder, having not qualified for the Madden Classic Live Finals. Both players with a lot to prove. Unfortunately, one must go home!
Starting off with the ball, Problem looked to establish the run game against Serious Moe's defense. Moe had allowed 100-plus yards rushing on average during the previous week's group stage and quarterfinals, so Problem hoped to exploit this weakness early and often with Ricky Williams.
However, having built up a defense designed for the run game, Serious Moe was ready, putting Problem into an early 3rd and 8. Needing a huge completion, Problem went with Terrelle Pryor, finding Mike Evans deep in Moe's territory. First down. Then, facing a 4th and goal from inside the 1-yard line, Problem went for the touchdown, calling Ricky Williams' number on a Power O against a QB Sneak defense set up by Serious Moe. “Run Ricky Run” walked in for the score and a 7-0 lead.
Serious Moe, opting for the New Orleans Saints' offensive playbook, appeared well-prepared for Problem's Nickel Normal defense on his first drive. Deion Sanders provided the catalyst, catching two huge passes on 3rd downs, getting inside the Problem 5-yard line at the end of the first quarter. Serious Moe then targeted Jimmy Graham on a big 4th and 1 goal line leap, but Problem and his vaunted defense stood tall, forcing a turnover on downs.
Staying true to his style, Problem protected his lead by relying on his run game near the end of the first half, keeping the clock moving by feeding Ricky Williams and hitting shallow crosses. He passed midfield at the 2-minute warning with a big completion to Herman Moore, and then a few plays later hit Jimmy Graham between the safeties for a 40-yard gain. 1st and goal with 1:30 left. Making Serious Moe waste his last timeout, Problem then settled for a field goal and a 10-0 lead with :46 remaining.
Knowing he’d have the ball at the beginning of the 2nd half, Serious Moe came out aggressive. He hit Jerry Rice for a long gain, but the tempo fed right into Problem's game plan, as Harrison Smith picked off a pass intended for Deion Sanders with :26 seconds left in the half, giving Problem a chance for a few insurance points. A wheel route to Ricky Williams down the sideline, and a scramble out of bounds with 10 seconds left set Problem up with 1st and goal from the 6. Problem, seemingly having the right call for every situation, went with a Mid Draw to Ricky Williams for his second rushing touchdown and a commanding 17-0 halftime lead.
Desperately needing a score out of halftime, Serious Moe looked to be pressing a bit. Aiming for Jerry Rice deep down the sideline, the pass went incomplete. Needing points badly, Serious Moe then tried a 4th down conversion, but again had an incompletion with a pass over the middle dropped to the turf. Problem had the ball with a seemingly insurmountable 17-point lead. He started running the play clock all the way down to 2 seconds left before snapping the ball, and just kept giving the ball to Ricky Williams, letting him chew up yards against Serious Moe’s Dollar/Nickel defensive fronts. Ricky then walked in for a touchdown and a 24-0 lead with 1:32 left in the 3rd quarter.
Knowing he was in a deep hole, Serious Moe picked up the tempo, attacking the seams. However, the Nickel pressure from Problem was too much, and he sacked Serious Moe, forcing and recovering a fumble. On the very next play, Serious Moe's defense flashed into Problem’s backfield, stopping Ricky Williams, forcing a fumble of their own, and recovering it to end the 3rd quarter. Opening the 4th quarter, Serious Moe continued to pick up the pass rush, and continued to feed Williams the ball on the ground at the expense of valuable time ticking off the game clock. Inside the 5-yard line, he looked for Ricky Williams on a check down for a TD. The 2-point conversion was good, making it a two-possession game at 24-8.
Serious Moe followed with a deep kick, needing two stops to get back into it. Forcing a 4th and inches with 2:40 left, Problem faced a tough decision. But instead of making it, he challenged the spot! And the call was overturned, giving him a fresh set of downs. Problem would go on to convert another first down, running Moe out of timeouts, and then punting the ball all the way down to Serious Moe’s 2-yard line with 1:20 left in the ballgame. At that point, Serious Moe simply did not have enough time or timeouts to mount the comeback. With 30 seconds left, Problem was content to allow an underneath pass, watching the clock tick out on Serious Moe's fantastic Madden Bowl run. Problem wins, 24-8.
Problem now moves on to the Madden Bowl Finals to face Chris “Dubdot” McFarland, aka Dubby, where they will battle with $75,000 on the line!