Over the years, everyone from odds-makers to octopi have offered predictions on major sporting events worldwide. This Thanksgiving, Xbox One is getting in on the action. This time, however, the fate of NFL teams on turkey day lies in the gaming skills of one of their own.
For the first time ever, NFL players simulated two of the league’s premier Thanksgiving Day match-ups in a series dubbed Xbox One Game Before the Game. For each matchup, NFL players from the Seahawks, 49ers, Bears and Lions manned the controls of their own squad to square off against their Thanksgiving Day competition in a game of Madden NFL 15 on Xbox One at their local Microsoft Store. Throughout the contest, each player trash-talked the other on video chat via Skype, showcasing the unparalleled Madden NFL 15 experience on Xbox One.
The first Game Before the Game previewed the primetime NFC West showdown between the Seahawks and 49ers, with Doug Baldwin leading Seattle on the field against Stevie Johnson and San Francisco. Johnson and the 49ers jumped out to an early 10-0 lead on a Frank Gore two-yard touchdown run and Phil Dawson 19-yard field goal. But Baldwin stormed back, scoring 14 points in the 4th quarter on a pair of Russell Wilson touchdown tosses, the first to Jermaine Kearse and the other to, of course, Doug Baldwin himself, to give Seattle the win, 14-10.
Baldwin even got a keepsake of his game-winning touchdown catch. “You get to experience something in the game that you want to save, just tell the Xbox to ‘record that,’ and it saves (your highlights) so you can look back in the future,” he said after the game.
Meanwhile, one of the NFL’s oldest rivalries played on out Xbox One with Alshon Jeffery guiding the Bears against Golden Tate and the Detroit Lions. Defense was the name of the game in this one, with neither team putting points on the board until Jeffery ran Matt Forte up the middle for a three-yard touchdown run with just one minute left in the first half.
Jeffery maintained his lead throughout much of the second half, but just went the outcome looked most-dire for Tate, the Lions came roaring back. First, Tate guided Detroit on an eight-play, 56-yard drive capped off by a Jed Collins one-yard touchdown run to tie the game 7-7 with a minute left.
After forcing Jeffery and the Bears to a three-and-out, Tate got the ball back with just 39 seconds on the clock. That’s when Tate rolled quarterback Matthew Stafford out and found, who else, but Golden Tate on a 44-yard bomb to put the Lions in field goal range. After calling a timeout, Tate trotted out kicker Matt Prater to drill the game-winning 46-yard field goal, giving Detroit an improbable 10-7 victory.
“That was a lot of fun,” said a victorious Golden Tate. “I had never been a part of something like that. I just learned today that you can Skype your opponents and talk to them and see their interactions.”