Tecmo Bowl pits the player versus the computer in 11-game, single-elimination playoff action. Players also can go head-to-head with a human opponent in action or coach mode. The player can select from 12 teams. On offense there are usually two run and two pass plays to choose from.
The player takes control of the quarterback before the snap and then either hands off to the running back or works through his receiver progression from the top to the bottom of the screen.
Defense consists of trying to guess which offensive play the opponent will select and then taking control of one of the defensive players before the snap. A very simple power-meter system is used for kicking field goals, extra points and punts.