GM - EllisToLeafsNation & Adam Sinister
Coach - George Halas
QB - Dan Marino
RB - Emmitt Smith
FB - Marion Motley
WR - Michael Irvin
WR - Torry Holt
TE - Tony Gonzales
LT - Anthony Munoz
LG - Jim Parker
C- Alex Wojciechowicz
RG - Walt Kiesling
RT- Matt Light
DE - Andy Robustelli
DT - Bill Willis
DT - Curley Culp
DE - Coy Bacon
ROLB - George Connor
MLB - Willie Lanier
LOLB - Bill Bergey
CB - Nnamdi Asomghua
FS - Ken Houston
SS - Brian Dawkins
CB - Dave Brown
K - Jim Bakken
P - Rohn Stark
KR - Wes Welker
PR - Wes Welker
BN - Cliff Branch (WR)
BN - Steve Tasker (WR)
BN - Sam Madison (CB)
BN - Troy Brown (WR/CB)
This will be our toughest test yet, but having home field advantage should be a big boost for us. Ralph Wilson Stadium (nee Rich Stadium) in the winter has been the site of many of Marino's nightmares in the past.
Offense: This game will see a steady dose of Dickerson and Grange. Our line (and especially that right side of Langer-Little-Hubbard) should be able to open enough holes against the Chargers front 7 for our fast and talented RBs to break through. Centers will also be providing some lead blocks as well.
In the passing game, once again the key is ball security and moving the chains. Staubach might just be the best QB in this draft when it comes to not throwing picks, which is crucial against the talented secondary of the Chargers. Art Monk and Todd Christensen will be heavily targeted also in our possession-based attack. With Swann and Smith, we will also be able to keep the safeties back to respect their deep play ability to open up some more space for Monk and Christensen. And out of the backfield, we have the ever dangerous Larry Centers (who is also great at blitz pickup) and Red Grange, who we can line up split wide as well as in the backfield. With the emphasis on the run this game, we will also use some more 2 TE sets, but when we do Wesley Walls is still a very capable receiver. The Chargers pass rush will have a tough time getting to Staubach, and we love our tackles of Shell and Hubbard against their ends. Our interior of Munchak-Langer-Little should also do well against the rush up the middle. In order for the Chargers to get to Staubach, they're going to have to bring extra guys which will further create more space for our receivers. We think that with these many targets and Staubach's great decision making, we can find some good matchups and work our way down the field.
Here is where we think we will win the game though. The Chargers offense is we believe the strength of their team, but we really like the matchups we can generate. The Chargers have a dominant left side to their line (Munoz and Parker), but they'll be going up against the right side of our defense...which means the greatest defensive player in NFL history with Lawrence Taylor, who simply cannot be neutralized. We think Hampton (and Hubbard when we rotate our linemen) can hold their ground enough to allow our linebackers to make plays on that side. Baumhower was the most dominant DT of his day and lining up across from Wojciechowicz should be a good matchup for him to get some penetration up the middle. And on the other side of the line, we are salivating at the thought of seeing an elite end like Youngblood go up against the combination of Kiesling and Light. We don't think either guy can contain Youngblood on their own, and if he gets double teamed that means our linebackers will be more free to blow up plays.
Containing Emmitt Smith will be key, but because we think we can control the trenches that will let our excellent quartet of LBs (Taylor, Thomas, Mills, and Webster) make plays. The hard hitting Cliff Harris and Jack Christiansen will also creep up from the safety spot if needed to bring another guy into the box.
In the passing game, we absolutely love the matchups of our CBs against their WRs. Mel Blount and Jimmie Johnson are both elite man-to-man defenders and we feel fully comfortable putting each of them on an island with Irvin and Holt. This is key to our whole defense, because since those guys won't need as much safety help this will allow Harris and Christiansen to creep up against the run, or sit back and make plays on Marino's throws and police the middle of the field. The one receiver who we are concerned with is Tony Gonzalez, but we think a combination of our safeties and our OLBs can contain him. We especially will use George Webster on Gonzalez. Webster was originally a DB-LB "roverback" in college because he has the speed and coverage skills to go against WRs (the man once caught Bob Hayes from behind) as well as the size to play LB, which makes him perfect to matchup against Gonzalez as well as their backs out of the backfield. Getting pressure on a QB is gets the ball out as fast as Marino may be challenging, but Youngblood and Baumhower should be able to rush those throws a bit and because we like our matchups in coverage, this will give us flexibility to bring extra pass rushers from our LBs/safeties and still have excellent coverage behind them. When Hubbard rotates in, since he actually started his career at LB (and he was indeed a star LB for the Giants), this gives us even greater flexibility to drop him back and dial up exotic blitz packages.
And having a defensive mastermind as coach means that Belichick can dial up schemes to specifically exploit those matchups, which cannot be understated.
Special Teams: Stenerud is of course the only dedicated kicker in the HOF. Moorman knows the treacherous conditions of Ralph Wilson Stadium well and is quite prolific against the elements as well. Hall and Christiansen are prolific returners as well, and we always have Red Grange to take kickoffs as well.
In the frozen tundra of Buffalo in January, with a temperature at a bone-chilling 8 degrees, the Buffalo Bills hosted the San Diego Chargers. The Bills, being used to this type of weather, held the advantage.
Both teams have very solid running games, greatly aided by their tremendous offensive lines. The Bills' great front 7 is sure to put great pressure on the San Diego offensive line, and the game may hinge upon the ability for one of these units to dominate the other.
The game began as a chess match, as both teams weren't able to establish much of anything on offense in their first drives, with each picking up just one first down. When Rohn Stark punted the ball away from his own 35, Jack Christiansen fielded the ball on his own 18 yard line, and scampered up field to the San Diego 33, just being pushed out of bounds by Stark.
From there, Eric Dickerson was able to ramble off gains of 12, 8, and 10 yards to get the ball down to the 3 yard line. At the 3, Dickerson was stopped for no gain on 1st and 2nd down, and on 3rd down Staubach threw a beautiful fade route to Lynn Swann in the corner of the endzone, giving Buffalo the early 7-0 lead.
After this, the snow began to fall in increasingly large quantities. Emmitt Smith took this in stride, as San Diego utilized the ground game to get to the Buffalo 47 when the first quarter came to a close. The second quarter began much like the end of the first, Smith continued to find holes in the left side of his offensive line thanks to Munoz and Parker, and ran 35 yards to the Buffalo 12 when Lawrence Taylor lowered the boom, knocking the ball out. It was recovered by Mel Blount and taken to the Buffalo 28.
Apart from a 28 yard completion to Art Monk, the Buffalo offense proved ineffective, and the drive was ended by an Andy Robustelli sack.
San Diego got the ball back, and Marino was able to hook up with Torry Holt on a bomb downfield, a completion of 67 yards that evened the score up at 7-7.
When Buffalo got the ball back, they showed the commitment to the run that got them their touchdown earlier. Mixing quick screen passes and runs, they were able to dink and dunk down the field to the San Diego 28 when Eric Dickerson turned the right edge and saw daylight, but was stopped just short of the first down at the San Diego 19. They settled for the field goal, and a 10-7 lead.
San Diego attempted to run a 2-minute drill, but the pressure on Marino was too great for their drive to amount to anything, and the half ended with Buffalo up 10-7 on San Diego.
Getting the ball back to start the half, the San Diego offense stalled. They managed two first downs by Emmitt Smith, but weren't able to accomplish anything besides that. Buffalo's next drive suffered the same fate, as the defenses began to take over, taking advantage of the snow and inability for the skilled offensive players to run at full speed.
With 2 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, on a long 3rd & 15 Tony Gonzalez found a seam in the Buffalo defense, picking up a gain of 33 and getting the ball into Buffalo territory. From there, Emmitt Smith was able to effectively move the ball, and the drive was capped off by an 8 yard plunge into the endzone, giving San Diego the 14-10 lead.
For the first 10 minutes of the 4th quarter, the defenses bent, but didn't break as neither offense was able to keep a rhythm going, picking up a few first downs and stalling, eventually being forced to punt. San Diego took possession with a little under 5 minutes left, and was happy to run the clock out and move on the Super Bowl.
Smith and Motley both saw a number of carries, and San Diego was faced with a 4th & 7 on the Buffalo 43. It was too far away to attempt a field goal, and if they were able to convert on 4th down the game would be theirs. Halas called a slant play intended to go to Michael Irvin, but Mel Blount read the play and was able to step in front of the throw, and he was off to the races. Blount galloped into the endzone, giving Buffalo the 17-14 lead.
Marino tried his darnedest to get the game tied, but a sack by Lawrence Taylor crushed San Diego's hopes of reaching the Super Bowl, and Buffalo won the game 17-14. Mel Blount was named MVP for his game-winning interception return for a TD.