Rejoice, 49ers fans. Your team will win Super Bowl XLVII, according to Madden NFL 13 simulations.
Newsday simulated the Super Bowl five times using the most recent edition of EA Sports’ hit football franchise on the Sony PlayStation 3. In all five instances, the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Baltimore Ravens.
Each game was kept as true-to-life as possible, right down to the Super Bowl presentation setting. The AI controlled both teams in each game. Each game was simulated at All-Madden difficulty, with 15-minute quarters and the play clock accelerated down to 15 seconds.
Both teams had the most recent online rosters and depth charts as provided by EA Sports. The 49ers entered with a 91 overall rating, while the Ravens had an 88 overall rating.
Below is a recap of each simulation:
GAME 1: 49ers 41, Ravens 13
The 49ers controlled the game from the opening coin toss, scoring on the first drive of the game en route to opening up a 31-0 third-quarter lead.
Dual-threat quarterback Colin Kaepernick did all of his damage in the pocket, completing 23 of 31 passes -- including his first 15 in a row -- for 314 yards and two touchdowns. Frank Gore ran for 126 yards and scored on two 1-yard plunges.
The 49ers defense attacked Joe Flacco (22-for-44, 329 yards, TD) early and often, sacking him an incredible nine times and intercepting four of his passes. Unheralded linebacker Ahmad Brooks racked up five sacks, and eventual Super Bowl MVP Justin Smith had two sacks and returned an interception 16 yards for a first-quarter touchdown.
GAME 2: 49ers 46, Ravens 3
Yes, this game was as lopsided as the score indicates, despite the fact that both teams were scoreless until early in the second quarter.
So, what did the Ravens in? Trailing 16-3 after halftime, the Ravens failed to do anything after taking the second-half kickoff and were forced to punt. Three plays later, 49ers rookie tailback LaMichael James -- who was subbing for Gore -- took the handoff, broke through an arm tackle in the backfield and scooted 50 yards for a touchdown with 12:08 left in the quarter. (The two-point conversion to try and make the score 24-3 failed when Kaepernick’s pass to Michael Crabtree was swatted away in the end zone.)
Then things quickly went downhill for the Ravens. Two plays after the ensuing kickoff, Flacco was sacked and fumbled. Patrick Willis recovered the fumble, and on the very next play Kaepernick found a streaking Randy Moss down the field for a 21-yard score with 11:21 left. The 49ers kicked off to the Ravens, and on the first play from scrimmage, Rice coughed up the ball at the Ravens’ 27. Chris Culliver scooped up the loose ball and scampered into the end zone for the touchdown, making the score 36-3 with 11:10 left in the third quarter.
The Ravens had given up 20 points in 58 seconds, and the rest of the game was just a formality.
Culliver won Super Bowl MVP honors after returning Rice’s fumble for a touchdown, while Brooks totaled three of the Niners’ five sacks.
GAME 3: 49ers 26, Ravens 9
The Ravens got their first lead of the simulation series early in this game, thanks to a safety by defensive back Cary Williams. Williams took Gore down in the end zone to put the Ravens up, 2-0, with 2:49 left in the first quarter.
Of course, the lead would be short-lived. Kaepernick tossed a 26-yard touchdown to Vernon Davis on the 49ers’ next drive, and David Akers hit a 24-yard field goal to put San Francisco up 10-2 midway through the second quarter. But Flacco kept his team in the hunt late in the first half, hitting Jacoby Jones on a 9-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone to pull the Ravens to within one.
The 49ers would pull away in the second half to seal the win. Frank Gore scored on a 1-yard dive midway through the third quarter, and Akers would add three more field goals to ice the game.
Kaepernick completed 13 of 22 passes for 131 yards and threw one touchdown and one pick. Gore had 131 rushing yards and a score on 31 carries, and Davis had four catches for 70 yards and a touchdown.
Rice left the game in the first quarter with an upper body injury, finishing with eight rushes for 15 yards. Backup running back Bernard Pierce had 85 yards from scrimmage (37 rushing, 48 passing) in Rice’s place.
Defensive end Ray McDonald (five tackles, two tackles for a loss, one sack, one interception and one fumble recovery) was named Super Bowl MVP. And in what became a recurring trend throughout all five games, Brooks had three of the 49ers’ six sacks.
GAME 4: 49ers 13, Ravens 6
The Ravens found themselves playing catch-up from the very beginning as backup safety Trenton Robinson picked off Flacco’s first pass attempt of the game and returned it to the Baltimore 23-yard line. From there, the 49ers put it in Gore’s hands, as he accounted for all of San Francisco’s yardage en route to a 1-yard, off-tackle touchdown less than two minutes into the game.
Justin Tucker hit a 38-yard field goal on the Ravens’ next drive to make the score 7-3. Akers added two field goals in an otherwise uneventful second quarter, and the Ravens added another field goal in the third quarter after a controversial booth review overturned an apparent Rice fumble on a third-down conversion.
Things got exciting late in the fourth quarter. The Ravens, needing a touchdown to tie the game, went into their hurry-up offense following the two-minute warning. Flacco found Rice on a 46-yard pass over the middle that brought the Ravens to the San Francisco 28. Flacco spiked the ball to stop the clock and bring up second and 10, but he would be sacked on each of the next two plays as the Ravens turned the ball over on downs with 45 seconds remaining.
But the game was nowhere near over. Lewis forced a Gore fumble, which Ma’ake Kemoeatu recovered and brought to the 49ers’ 15-yard line. With eight seconds left, Flacco tried to find an open receiver in the end zone, but he held onto the ball too long and Smith sacked him from behind as time expired.
Kaepernick threw for 103 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions. Flacco had 206 passing yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions.
Gore finished with 30 carries for 87 yards and a touchdown, while Rice had 33 rushes for 54 yards and five catches for 75 yards. Lewis had seven tackles, including four for a loss, and a forced fumble. Brooks had two of the 49ers’ six sacks.
Smith was named Super Bowl MVP after recording 10 tackles, two tackles for a loss and two sacks, including the game-clinching sack.
GAME 5: 49ers 28, Ravens 16
This game had a nearly identical start to the previous simulation -- the Ravens got the ball to start the game, Flacco was picked off on his first pass attempt of the game and the 49ers capitalized on the turnover with a short touchdown run by Gore.
This time, the 49ers would stay in control all game. McDonald returned a Flacco fumble 14 yards for a touchdown to put the 49ers up 14-0 with 7:22 left in the first quarter.
Flacco would score on the next drive with a six-yard touchdown run out of a spread formation, but Kaepernick responded with an 82-yard bomb to Michael Crabtree on the next drive to make the score 21-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Tucker hit two field goals in the second quarter to tighten things up, but Kaepernick would score on a one-yard run to put the Ravens up 28-13.
The Ravens tried to mount a late comeback despite being down by more than two touchdowns. A deep pass from Flacco to Pitta set up a 50-yard Tucker field goal, and -- stop us if you’ve heard this before -- Lewis forced a Gore fumble to give the Ravens one last shot.
The Ravens would come up empty-handed, though, as Jones dropped a fourth-down conversion pass. The 49ers ran out the clock to complete the perfect five-for-five simulation.
Defense was the order of the day for both teams. Neither quarterback was particularly accurate -- Kaepernick tossed three interceptions, and Flacco had two. The 49ers shut down Rice, limiting him to 11 yards on 22 rushes, while Gore went for 65 yards and a touchdown.
Lewis had nine tackles, including two for a loss, and two forced fumbles in his final NFL game. Brooks had two of the 49ers’ six sacks, and McDonald earned Super Bowl MVP honors after returning Flacco’s fumble for a touchdown.