John Madden Football FAQ/Strategy Guide v1.1
would you recommend this guide? 
: : : : John Madden Football FAQ/Strategy Guide

John Madden Football FAQ/Strategy Guide

by VinnyVideo   Updated to v1.1 on
         __                              _    ___    ___    ___
     |  /  \  |   | |\   |      /\ /\   / \  |   \  |   \  |    |\   |
     | |    | |   | | \  |     |  |  | |   | |    | |    | |    | \  |
     | |    | |---| |  \ |     |  |  | |---| |    | |    | |--- |  \ |
     | |    | |   | |   \|     |  |  | |   | |    | |    | |    |   \|
 \__/   \__/  |   | |    |     |  |  | |   | |___/  |___/  |___ |    |
            ___   __     __   _____  __       _
           |     /  \   /  \    |   | _\     / \  |    |
           |    |    | |    |   |   |  /_   |   | |    |
           |--- |    | |    |   |   |  _ \  |---| |    |
           |    |    | |    |   |   | |_) | |   | |    |
           |     \__/   \__/    |   |____/  |   | |___ |___

Table of Contents
[INTRO] Introduction
[MODES] Modes of Play
[CONTR] Controls
[SCOUT] Scouting Reports
[OFFPB] Offensive Playbook
[DEFPB] Defensive Playbook
[NOTES] FAQs and General Tips
[REALL] Comparing with Reality
[VERSN] Version History
[COPYR] Copyright
[CONTC] Contact Information

Introduction                                                         [INTRO]
There are people who only buy Ford trucks or Chevrolets (not as many as there
used to be, or they wouldn't be getting bailed out). Others swear by Japanese
nameplates. An increasing number of car buyers buck the trend and choose
something newfangled like a Kia or a Hyundai. In that vein, I guess I've always
been a Nintendo person, and all my guides thus far have been for games made for
Nintendo systems. But I'm being a little bit wilder here - my first guide for a
Sega Genesis game! Wow, wild. Born to be wi-i-i-ld! OK, that was stupid. I had
to come up with some kind of opening paragraph to bore you before I type the

While John Madden Football doesn't have today's graphics or updated rosters, it
has a decent playbook for its time, exciting music, and decent sound effects.
The graphics aren't much better than an NES game, and the animation can
sometimes be jerky. That said, you have to remember that this was the second
Madden game. Many familiar features of later Madden games aren't included, like
season play, although there is a playoff mode. Formations are pretty limited;
there's no 3-4 defense, I-Formation, or single-back sets. John Madden Football
has no actual players (or even player numbers), and only 16 teams (mostly the
better teams of the 1989 season) are included. No substitutions can be made,
although you can choose between four different sets of offensive players.
Learning all the spins and other moves won't take long - it's a lot simpler
than the ultra-complicated play control in the newer Madden titles.

Modes of Play                                                        [MODES]
---Regular Season---
Here you can play an exhibition game using the teams of your choice. You can
also select the quarter length. Remember that a "John Madden" team means it's
controlled by the computer.

This lets you play a series of playoff games. You can resume your game by
entering a password (highlight "New" and press Left or Right to reach the
password entry prompt).

---Sudden Death---
Sudden Death is essentially an overtime period that matches up the teams of
your choice. The first team to score will win the game.

Controls                                                             [CONTR]

Control pad any direction - Move player
START - Pause game

Start the power bar - C
Stop the power bar - C (when it's near the top)
Aim kick left/right - Control Pad left/right
Call an audible - A
Line up for an onside kick (after calling an audible) - C
Return to standard kicking formation (after calling an audible) - A/B
Control the kick receiver - Control pad any direction

---Before the snap---
Fake snap signal (HUT!) - B
Snap the ball - C

Select player to control - B
Does weird things - C

---Audibles (either offense or defense)---
Call an audible - A
Select an audible play (after calling an audible) - A, B, or C

---After the snap---
Dive/QB slide - A
Spin - B
Burst of speed/break tackle - C

Dive - A
Control player closest to the ball - B
Jump and raise hands - C

Move the quarterback - Control Pad any direction
Bring up passing windows - C
Pass to receiver A, B, or C - A, B, or C

Dive - A
Take control of receiver closest to the ball - B
Jump and raise hands - C

Fake snap signal (HUT!) - B
Start power bar/snap the ball - C
Aim the kick - Control Pad Left/Right
Kick the ball - C

---Play Calling---
Move play selection highlight - Control Pad Up/Down
Return to formation select screen from play screen - Control Pad Up

Move highlight up/down - Control Pad Up/Down
Cycle through choices - Control Pad Left/Right
Select highlighted option - START

Scouting Reports                                                     [SCOUT]
These are the scouting reports as they appear in the game.

---Atlanta scouting report:
 + Updated, smart passing game
 + Bad boy linebackers
 + Quick cornerback play
 - Slo..o...o...w running backs
 - No outside pass rush
 - Coverage's soft underside

---Buffalo scouting report:
 + Punishing running attack
 + Real man offensive line
 - Quarterback's off year
 - Uneven secondary play
 - No push from the pass rush

---Chicago scouting report:
 + Multipurpose running game
 + Good cover at the corners
 + My kind of kicker
 - No real quarterback
 - Thin at the wide outs
 - No leadership at safety

---Cincinnati scouting report:
 + Crafty quarterback
 + Running game's 1-2 punch
 + Great defensive backfield
 - Uneven defensive line talent
 - Linebackers slipping
 - Poor special teams play

---Denver scouting report:
 + Golden-armed golden boy
 + Three quality receivers
 + Powerful, slashing back
 + Great pass coverage
 - Soft defense against the run
 - Short-ranged kicking game

---Houston scouting report:
 + Smart, mobile quarterback
 + Good complement of backs
 + Veteran safeties
 + Good kicking game
 - No LB intensity against run
 - Immobile offensive line
 - Weak at the corners

---Kansas City scouting report:
 + Best secondary in football
 + Dominant fullback
 + Great offensive line play
 - Receivers' talent not there
 - Linebackers lack some speed
 - Still looking for the QB

---Los Angeles (NFC) scouting report:
 + Passing machine
 + Smothering offensive line
 + Money kicking
 - No deep pass defense
 - No pass rush
 - Second class running game

---Miami scouting report:
 + Cannon-armed quarterback
 + Quick wide receivers
 + Improving secondary
 + Good kicking game
 - No pass protection
 - Still no running game
 - Soft left corner

---Minnesota scouting report:
 + All Pros everywhere
 + Big play receivers
 + Awesome pass rush
 + Great safety run play
 - Poor passing QB
 - Offensive line underachieves

---New England scouting report:
 + Good at the wide outs
 + Strong left offensive line
 - Smart but aging quarterback
 - No rush from defensive line
 - Weak punting hurts defense

---New York scouting report:
 + Tough, clutch quarterback
 + Smart, veteran linebacking
 + Rock solid kicking game
 - Aging running game
 - Secondary talent missing

---Philadelphia scouting report:
 + Ultimate weapon quarterback
 + Overpowering defensive line
 - Receivers are little help
 - Running game is led by QB
 - Random kicking game

---Pittsburgh scouting report:
 + Good pair of receivers
 + Offensive line opens holes
 + Sharp secondary
 + Great money kicking
 - Soft run defense
 - No pass rush hurts secondary
 - QB strong, but not a star

---San Francisco scouting report:
 + Big money quarterback
 + Spectacular receiving corps
 + Bruising double fullbacks
 + Quality defensive front 7
 - Some holes in the secondary
 - Bad punting puts 'D' in holes

---Washington scouting report:
 + Wealth of aerial weapons
 + Strong running game
 + Overachieving defensive line
 + Offensive line
 - Aging defensive backfield
 - Weak inside linebacking
 - Popgun kicking

---All-Madden scouting report:
This is my kind of team. Set the power running game. Then bomb 'em deep. Great
man to man defensive coverage, while a brutal pass rush does it's [sic] job.
Linebackers destroy the other guy's running game. Special teams make yardage,
and score when it counts. My kind of guys...

Offensive Playbook                                                   [OFFPB]
A few notes: Since you're playing an old football video game, I'm assuming you
have some grasp of football theory, rules, and terminology; you know what a
tight end or shotgun formation is. That said, I'm still going to explain
certain terms for the less football-savvy. Remember that results may vary
depending on defense, down, hashmarks, personnel, and other factors. No play
will succeed 100% of the time. I've tried to test each play against a variety
of defenses, but there's still a chance I may have misjudged a few plays. The
five-receiver formation wasn't around in the NFL in 1990, so don't go looking
for that, the Wildcat, 7-DB "quarter" defenses, or zone blitzes. For those of
you who are counting, there are 35 plays on offense and 64 plays in the
defensive playbook. While many of these plays (or plays that are very similar)
appear in the playbooks of newer Madden games, I don't recommend trying to use
this guide with any games other than the Super NES version of John Madden

Far (6 plays)
This formation is best for running, although it contains one passing play. The
only difference between the "Far" and "Near" formations is whether or not your
halfback is on the same side of the formation as the tight end.

---FB Trap Left---
Not the best running play in the book, even among fullback runs. If you run the
play the way it's drawn, you probably won't gain more than a couple of yards,
so you might prefer to run off right guard.

---HB Sweep Right---
On this play, the halfback takes the pitch and must run almost to the sideline
before turning. There's obviously a risk here, since a blitzing LOLB will often
stop you for a loss. However, a fast back can easily gain 5-10 yards.

---FB Counter---
Unless you have a very fast fullback, your back will be stuffed for a big loss,
since you take the pitch a considerable distance behind the line of scrimmage.
Not a good play.

---FB Lead---
The halfback lead blocks for the fullback, who runs between the left tackle and
left guard. This is a good way to use a fullback who can break tackles. Don't
be too fast in plowing through the line; wait for the blocking to set up before
making your move.

---Cross Right---
The split end (B) runs a very effective deep in. The tight end (C) is on an out
pattern, and the halfback (A) will be available in the flat.

---HB Screen---
Your primary option for this screen pass is, of course, the halfback (A). A
fast halfback can easily get a touchdown if you throw a quick, hard pass. You
can also try the split end (B) on the corner or the tight end (C) on the out.

Near (6)
The Near formation is identical to Far, except that the halfback is positioned
on the same side of the field as the tight end.

---HB Trap Left---
This trap play is pretty reliable at earning four or more yards, although
you'll be stopped for a loss if the MLB is blitzing.

---FB Off Tackle---
Not a bad play, but hardly remarkable or memorable. It's difficult for your
fullback to build much momentum with this play. Running between the right guard
and right tackle is generally most effective.

---HB Counter---
In a counter play, the running back steps in one direction to fake out the
defense, and then he runs in the opposite direction. This is more like a plain
old sweep right, and it will frequently gain 10 yards.

---HB Screen---
Your primary option for this screen pass is, of course, the halfback (C). A
fast halfback can get good yardage, especially versus a blitz, but against a
short zone, you'll have little luck. You can also throw deep to the streaking
receivers (A and B), but they play so close together the defensive backs will
have an easy time covering them.

---Play Action---
This is more of a flood right than a play action. The halfback (B) is a good,
safe option in the flat. The flanker (A) on the deep post can earn big yardage,
while the tight end (C) will need to be quick to gain anything more than five

---Cross In---
On this play action pass, your main target is the flanker (B) on the streak.
The tight end (C) runs a very short out that's good if you want to get the ball
off quickly, while the halfback (A) faces too much traffic against a standard
4-3. It takes a little while for this play to get going, so try something else
if you're expecting a heavy blitz.

Pro Form (7)
The Pro Form formation, also known as Split Backs or other names, is very
similar to Far/Near. It's good for both running and passing, and it's probably
the formation I use most frequently. As the most popular formation of its time,
the Pro Form has the largest play selection of any set in the game.

---FB Center Trap---
This is another fullback run, which will be pretty effective if your fullback
runs well. Be patient and let the blockers block.

---HB Toss Left---
This is a good running play for more experienced players. If you can beat the
right cornerback, you should reach the sideline and score.

---HB Off Tackle---
The halfback runs between the right tackle and tight end or flanker. What more
can you say? This is a good general-purpose run that should consistently gain
good yardage with little risk. One of the best rushing plays in the game.

---FB Draw---
This is a relatively rare draw play to the fullback. It looks like the
quarterback's throwing, but he's not. This works well if the defense is playing
for the pass, but unless your fullback is fast, you'll lose big yardage against
a blitz. Not recommended.

---Down & Out---
The halfback (A) is a very good option against blitzes and deep zones. The
tight end (B) on the post also works well against blitzes, while the flanker
(C) on the post is more of a deep threat. Overall, a nice play.

---Cross Pass---
The B receiver runs a post pattern that can gain big yardage but can also be an
interception hazard if the safety picks him up. The flanker (C) goes deep,
while the halfback (A) in the flat is a safe and remarkably effective option.

---Flea Flicker---
This play doesn't appear in the playbook, so the only way you can use it is by
calling Audible A (see the FAQs). The quarterback pitches out to the halfback,
who promptly returns the ball to the quarterback. From here, you can either run
or throw deep to a receiver. This is the riskiest play in the game, but it
frequently results in a massive gain.

Shotgun (6)
The Shotgun formation is good for passing because of its "shotgun" snap - the
quarterback gets the ball several yards behind the line of scrimmage instead of
from right under center. It isn't great for running, though. The John Madden
Football version of the shotgun formation has three receivers, one tight end,
and one running back.

---FB Draw---
This can earn a surprising amount of yardage if the defense is expecting a
pass. Either hit the hole between the pulling right guard and the center, or
run off left tackle.

---Flood Right---
If he's open, go for the flanker (B) on the deep post. Throwing to the tight
end (A) will succeed against deep zones. Your last option is the back (C), who
will take a while to get open.

Try a quick, hard pass to the C receiver on the out. The A receiver runs
something more like a slant. If the middle is clear, throw to the halfback (B)
on the slant.

---Post Up---
Your best option is the split end (A) on the deep post. If he's double-covered,
look for the shorter tight end (B) or the C receiver on the out-and-up. This
play will shred short zones and slow cornerbacks in man coverage.

---Deep Outs---
Your main target is the split end (A) on the deep out, who will probably score
a touchdown if he catches the ball. Also look for your interior receivers (B
and C) on posts. This play is best if you need quick yardage, especially in a
two-minute drill.

---Flag Left---
The flanker (C) runs a flag pattern, while the B and A receivers cross on the
left side of the field. The A receiver may be a good option if you need to get
out of bounds in a two-minute drill.

Goal Line (6)
This formation is full of plays that are useful only in short-yardage
situations, especially near the goal line. There are two backs, two tight ends,
and a receiver.

---FB Cut Right---
The goal of this play is to avoid the congestion in the middle by running off
right tackle, although sometimes it's also possible to plunge through the
middle. While nothing is guaranteed inside the five, this play works very
effectively, especially when you need two or three yards.

---FB Lead Left---
This is a halfback dive. If you need 1-2 yards, FB Lead Left is a good play to

---HB Pull---
A good choice if you only need a yard or two. It's not particularly glamorous,
though. As with FB Lead Left, you may prefer to run around the line for the

---FB Lead Right---
Just like FB Lead Left, although slightly more effective.

---HB Cut Left---
Another fullback dive, but this is a bit riskier than HB Pull.

---Flood Left---
This is the only passing play in the Goal Line formation. Everyone heads left.
The A receiver on the out is your most effective option, as he's the least
likely to be in considerable traffic. You could also roll out to the right and
run for the score.

Field Goal (2)
Use the "Special Teams Field Goal" player set to access these plays.

---Field Goal---
This play lets you kick a field goal. What a surprise! Don't try to kick a
field goal unless you're inside the opposition 30 or so, though. In newer
Madden games, this is the play to select when you want to kick an extra point
after a touchdown, although the two-point conversion wasn't around in the NFL
in 1991.

---Fake FG---
Fake field goals are very risky, so use them carefully. Your best bet is the A
option on this standard pass-based fake field goal. Ignore the kicking meter.
As with fake punts, fake field goals are most dangerous against human

Punt (2)
These plays will appear only when you select the "Special Teams Punt" player

When it's fourth down and too far to kick, you will usually want to punt. And
this is the play to select when you wish to do so.

---Fake Punt 1---
As you know, fake punts are risky. This is the pass form of the fake punt. Look
for your A, B, and C receivers and throw to whoever's open. Your B man is
safest, while A and C are best for longer gains. This play can be quite
effective against human players, if just for the shock value alone.

Defensive Playbook                                                   [DEFPB]
I'm not going to be as verbose on the defensive plays. Instead, I'm just going
to give a few details about each play; you can tell a lot just from the names
and diagrams.

4-3 (18)
The 4-3 system has four defensive linemen, three linebackers, two cornerbacks,
and two safeties. It's the primary defensive set of 10 of the 28 teams in the
actual 1990 NFL season. Most teams actually used the 3-4 system, but this game
doesn't have three-linemen defensive sets. Oh well.

---Full Blitz---
All three linebackers are blitzing, in addition to a safety. The offensive line
won't be able to hold back the eight-man rush for long. However, the receivers
will be in single (or no) coverage, since only three guys are defending the

---Wide Zone 1---
Seven men are in coverage, so passing won't be easy. The quarterback won't be
under much pressure, though.

---Medium Zone---
This is a medium zone defense, which contains the pass effectively but may have
difficulty against the ground game, especially runs off guard.

---Short Zone 1---
Needless to say, this is a short zone defense. It's designed to contain the
short pass without being too weak against the rushing game and deep threats.

---Man/Zone 1---
A balanced defense.

---Triple Zone---
Triple Zone will usually put the opposition flanker in triple coverage, but the
split end will have just one man to beat. The linebackers are playing man-to-
man to stop the run.

---Wide Zone 2---
This is a fairly standard zone defense.

---Short Zone 2---
This short zone is very similar to Short Zone 1.

---Man Left---
A man-to-man defense, with more protection on the left side of the field than
the right.

---Man Right---
The mirrored form of Man Left. Surprise!

---Left LB Blitz---
The left-side linebacker (technically the RLB) is blitzing in this man-to-man

---Right LB Blitz---
Basically a mirrored form of LLB Blitz. One safety plays very deep.

---Cheat Left---
All of your linemen rush toward the left side of the defensive line. The idea
is to block the left tackle and allow the blitzing RLB to come around to sack
the quarterback or stop left outside rushes. It'll take some time for this to
happen, though, especially if you don't have a fast linebacker. I recommend
that you control the RLB if you want a sack. The receivers and tight end will
be matched up in single coverage.

---Jam Middle---
Both outside linebackers blitz, while the linemen rush toward the middle of the
line. This play is good at stopping the inside run but is weaker against
sweeps and passes to the flats.

---Cheat Right---
The same as Cheat Left, only to the right. Consider taking control of the LLB.
Even if you don't get the quarterback, you might be able to tip his pass or
stop a sweep right.

---Wide Zone 3---
Four men are playing deep to protect against the long ball, but watch out for
runs and passes up the middle.

---Man/Zone 2---
The linebackers play to stop the run, while both safeties play deep to back up
the cornerbacks. This looks a little like a Cover-2. A good first-down call.

---MLB Blitz---
The middle linebacker blitzes, crushing the inside running game and putting
enormous pressure on the quarterback. A pass up the middle could be dangerous,
though. This is known as Monster Blitz in John Madden Football '93.

Nickel (10)
The Nickel defense is best used in passing situations, as there are five
defensive backs instead of four.

---Full Blitz---
Both linebackers blitz. Two defensive backs are also blitzing, but they're too
far away from the line of scrimmage to do anything unless you're controlling

---Bump & Run---
In Bump & Run, the linebackers play outside to stop outside runs. The defensive
backs play man coverage.

---Full Zone---
Every zone is covered here, including the flats. However, this play is very
vulnerable to an inside run, particularly a draw play.

---Deep Zone---
Everyone goes deep, so use this only when your opponents are in a two-minute
drill and are trying to gain yards quickly. It's best against a "Hail Mary" or
similar play.

---Circle Zone---
This is a zone defense that's shaped in a circle. The weak point is the middle
of that circle, although even short passes up the middle aren't going to cause
too much damage.

---Safety Blitz---
Two sets of defensive linemen are stunting, while the center safety comes
charging forward. He won't reach the QB unless you take control of him manually
or use an A audible, though. This safety charge could leave a gap in the deep
zone in the center of the field.

---Tight Man---
One linebacker is blitzing, and the defensive backs are in man coverage. The
defensive line is rushing towards the center, so the inside run won't be able
to do much, but an off left tackle could be dangerous.

---Double Blitz---
Woof! Both linebackers are blitzing, so this is a good way to put pressure on
the quarterback without forsaking receiver coverage. This play is called Red
Dog in the next version of this game.

---Double SE---
Identical to Double FL, except this puts the split end (or usually the flanker)
in double coverage.

---Deep Zone---
This play is also found in the Cover section of the Nickel playbook.

---Double FL---
This double-teams the flanker, or more commonly, the split end. A fine way to
shut down a particularly dangerous receiver.

---Bump & Run---
This too is in the Cover playbook.

Dime (9)
The Dime formation is even more pass-oriented, with six defensive backs and
just one linebacker. Since it's weak against most running plays, especially the
inside run, the Dime should be reserved for obvious passing situations.

---Double Blitz---
The second cornerback and linebacker blitz, with the other five defensive backs
providing the other assignments.

---Center Blitz---
The lone linebacker blitzes, and the secondary plays man coverage.

---Short Zone---
The cornerbacks and linebacker protect against the short pass, while your
safeties drop back to provide a last line of defense.

---Deep Zone 1---
The classic prevent defense. All of your defensive backs head deep to prevent
the big play. Because of its passive nature, you definitely don't want to use
it except when necessary.

---Deep Zone 2---
This deep zone stops the outside pass but may be vulnerable against passes in
the flat. Good in a two-minute drill.

---CB Blitz---
One of the cornerbacks blitzes the quarterback here, while the rest of the
secondary is able to fill the hole.

---Double SE---
This play double-teams the receiver lined up on the right side of the offense,
which is usually the flanker, not the split end.

---Double FL---
This play usually double-teams the split end.

---Safety Blitz---
One of your safeties will be blitzing, but unless you take manual control of
Him or use an A audible, you won't come near the quarterback. The LB is also

---Short Zone---
The last three plays are all redundancies of the Cover set.

---Deep Zone 1---
This is the same as the Deep Zone 1 found in the Cover portion of the playbook.

---Deep Zone 2---
Another redundancy.

Big (9)
The Goal Line formation counters the offensive version of the Goal Line. This
should only be used near the goal line or possibly in certain obvious short-
yardage situations.

---Man Left 1---
In this man coverage system, the safety provides extra coverage on the left
side of the field.

---Safety Blitz---
One of the defensive backs will blitz.

---Man Right 1---
Similar to Man Left 1, except the safety covers the right side of the field,
and two pairs of linemen are on stunts.

---Man Right 2---
Basically a mirrored Man Left 2.

This is a man-to-man defense that's good against the pass down the middle.

---Man Left 2---
This is more aimed at stopping the pass and the outside left run.

Very similar to Left.

This is more geared toward stopping the inside run.

This is a general-purpose goal line defense that rushes toward the left side of
the line.

Special Teams (3)
These plays are designed to defend against punts and field goals.

---Punt Block---
Here your team goes all out trying to block the punt, but you won't be able to
get much of a punt return.

---Punt Return---
Your personnel will be blocking for the return man in an attempt to get a good

The most conservative pass defense in the game. All of your defensive backs
head deep to prevent the big play. There are only three down linemen. Because
of its passive nature, you definitely don't want to use it except when you're
expecting a "Hail Mary."

---Special Teams Field Goal---
Use this if you know your opponent will be kicking a field goal.

FAQs and General Tips                                                [NOTES]
Q: What plays are audibles?
A: In John Madden Football, you can't set audibles manually. Each audible can
be used regardless of your set or formation.

A: Pro Form Flea Flicker
B: Far Cross In
C: Pro Form FB Draw

A: Safety blitz
B: Normal 4-3 defense
C: 4-3 stunt

Q: What's the difference between each player set?
A: Before calling an offensive play, you must choose between six different sets
of players. Unless you're kicking a field goal or punting, you'll have four
options to choose from on normal plays. The player positions will not differ
depending on the team you select; for example, the fourth-string wide receiver
will always be the flanker in the Big set, whether you're using the Chiefs or

Normal: Your top two wide receivers, a tight end, your starting halfback, and
a fullback: Your normal setup. Use this when you're in the Pro-Form, Far, or
Near formations.

Fast: This set features four wide receivers and your backup running back. This
should be selected exclusively when using the Shotgun formation, because the
lack of a tight end and fullback will make running difficult in other
formations. Also, you'll have your third receiver replacing the normal

Hands: This can work when using the Shotgun formation or when you know you'll
be passing from a two-back system. Your standard starting halfback will be the
fullback, and the backup HB will play halfback. Your third receiver will play
split end and your fourth receiver will be the tight end, while the standard
flanker remains in the game.

Big: This two-tight end set works well in the Goal Line formation, but it might
also be worth a try when you know you'll be running in the Pro-Form, Far, and
Near formations. The tight end replaces the split end, and your fourth receiver
inexplicably becomes the flanker.

Special Teams Field Goal: It's what it says: Field goal plays.

Special Teams Punt: Pick this set when you punt.

Q: How do I use a hurry-up offense?
A: You can't. Sorry.

Q: How do I kick an onside kick?
A: As in real life, onside kicks are very difficult to execute properly. First
press A to call a kickoff audible, and then press C to change your team's
alignment. Press C to start the power bar, and hold Right on the Control Pad to
angle the kickoff toward the side where all your players are. You want to stop
the power bar when it's on the way down. It takes a lot of practice to do this
right, and even still your odds aren't great.

Q: Where's the Kneel Down play?
A: There isn't one. If you need to run out the clock without risking a fumble,
try something like FB Pull from the Goal Line formation. Another option is to
select a passing play and dive backwards right after you take the snap.

Q: Is there fatigue in this game?
A: No. No matter how fast a player runs, no player ever gets fatigued. Players
could first tire in Madden '97.

Q: What's the best way to put pressure on the opposing quarterback?
A: Select the middle linebacker. Charge past the center and squash the
quarterback! Even better, start running toward the line of scrimmage before the
snap to get a running start. There's another way, too...

Q: Where is the line of scrimmage?
A: According to this game's nearsighted referee, it's at the feet of the
offensive linemen, not the ball. With a little practice, you can line up a
safety or other fast player in the "neutral zone" and squash the quarterback,
deflect the pass, or stop the runner for a loss. This works especially well
from the Punt Rush play when you know the defense will punt.

Q: Why is the computer controlling my quarterback?
A: If you don't press any buttons after the snap, the computer takes over. The
same goes on defense. You can usually generate better results than the
computer, though.

Q: How do I call a timeout?
A: From the pause screen, just press A, assuming you have one or more timeouts
remaining. As you probably know, timeouts stop the game clock, so they're
useful in a two-minute drill or when you're about to get a delay of game

Q: What penalties appear in this game?
A: Basically, you can get a delay of game penalty if you take too long to call
your play on offense, and on defense you can get called for offsides by moving
past the line of scrimmage before the snap. A few other penalties are rare,
like illegal procedure (kicking the ball out of bounds on a kickoff). You can't
get called for pass interference, so feel free to abuse opposing receivers to
your heart's desire.

Q: What other tips do you have?
* If you call an audible by mistake, just wait a couple of seconds and you can
snap the ball as normal without calling an audible (wait for "Audible" to
* This is common sense, but if you have a good running back and a weak passing
game (Chicago is a good example), run the ball a lot. Likewise, if you pass
well but can't run (like Miami), you'll want to keep the ball in the air.
* Run straight if you want to keep going fast; zig-zags slow you down.
* Blitzes don't just increase the chances of a sack; they also make it easier
to deflect passes.
* Remember you can move your defenders a little past the line of scrimmage
before the snap, making it easier to sack the opposing quarterback.
* If you're playing on an emulator, assign the A, B, and C buttons to the X, C,
and V keys, respectively, to ease play-calling.

Q: What other notes do you have for the game?
A: Just a few miscellaneous tidbits:
* I don't include a team stats section because there's no objective way to rate
the teams.
* You might enjoy slamming into opposing players after the whistle blows. You
won't even get called for unnecessary roughness for doing so.
* Notice how John Madden on the opening screen looks tougher and more youthful.
He stopped aging somewhere around the 1992 season.

Q: How many guides have you written?
A: This is my 55th full walkthrough, not including my Link's Awakening maps and
other stuff. Visit to see the
complete, current list.

Comparing with Reality                                               [REALL]
The Comparing with Reality section, familiar if you've read my Formula One
guides, is a brief summary of the 1990 NFL season. More in-depth information
can be found at,, and assorted other Internet and print

The New York Giants edged the Buffalo Bills 20-19 to win Super Bowl XXV in
Tampa. The Bills would have won had they made a last-second field goal, which
they instead missed. It was the closest - and one of the best - Super Bowls
ever, and it also began Buffalo's string of four Super Bowl losses in as many

1990 was hardly a year of parity, in part because most winning teams had stable
quarterbacking situations and in part because the salary cap and free agency
(except Plan B) didn't exist yet. No one was surprised to see teams like the
Giants, Bills, and 49ers winning, and only a few weaker teams from 1989, like
Oakland, experienced a resurgence.

Lots of less exciting stuff, happened, too; Commissioner Paul Tagliabue named
Dr. John Lombardo as League Drug Advisor for Anabolic Steroids, and college
juniors first became eligible for the NFL draft.

Version History                                                      [VERSN]
This is the first guide I've completed in just one day of work, so the Version
History is hardly worth including.

Date    | Version | Size |
2-26-09 |  1.0    | 41KB | Began - and finished! - guide.
9-29-09 |  1.1    | 42KB | Made a couple of small changes.

Copyright                                                            [COPYR]
(c) 2009 Vinny Hamilton. All rights reserved.

All trademarks mentioned in this guide are copyrights of their respective

You can print this guide out for your personal use.
You can download this guide to your computer for personal use.
You can post this guide on your Web site as long as you give proper credit to
me AND you don't change a single letter, number, or symbol (not even a tilde).
Remember that the latest version will always be available at, but
don't count on there being many (if any) updates.
You can translate this guide into a foreign language and post the translation
on your Web site if you ask for permission first.
You can't post this guide on your Web site and say you wrote the guide
You can't post this guide on Web sites that contain (or have links to sites
that contain) sexually explicit images of nude humans (that is, pornography),
racism, gambling, or flattery of totalitarian regimes.
You can't post this guide on your Web site if you're going to change anything
in this guide that took me so many hours to write.

If you don't comply with these guidelines, your hard drive will be reformatted
(permanently erased) inexplicably and you will suffer from constipation for the
remainder of your life. Heed this warning.

Contact Information                                                  [CONTC]
If you have any questions or comments about this guide, send an e-mail to Remember that not all e-mails will be read. Please
follow these rules:

Do include "Madden Football" in the subject line.
Do send polite suggestions about ways to make this walkthrough better.
Do ask any questions you have about John Madden Football gameplay. I will
answer them eventually if you follow all of these guidelines.
Do tell me about any errors or omissions you find in this guide.
Do make a reasonable effort to use decent spelling, grammar, usage,
punctuation, and capitalization so I can understand what you're saying.
Do use patience. I check my messages rather sporadically.
Do not send spam, pornography, chain letters, "flames," or anything that
contains profanity or vulgarity. Again, violation of this rule will result in
permanent constipation, so be careful!

And lastly, a public service message: Fight for and affirm the rights of all
humans, regardless of race, age, or creed! And... Don't forget to exercise
regularly and maintain a balanced diet. I don't know if anyone reads or heeds
my public service messages, though.

For Angie