After recording just one interception and one fumble recovery in the first six games of the season, the Tiger-Cats defence has gotten more paws on the football as of late.
Hamilton swept the home-and-home series against Winnipeg in Weeks 8 and 9 due in large part to creating turnovers. The Ticats came up with two interceptions and one fumble recovery in both wins over the Bombers.
In Week 8, the Tabbies claimed a 37-18 victory on the road in the 'Peg. Rico Murray and Raymond Brown each picked off a pass and Jamall Johnson pounced on a fumble.
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During the Black and Gold’s Week 9 win in Guelph over Winnipeg, Johnson notched an interception while Dee Webb had a pick-six and jumped on a fumble as well. For Webb’s effort he was named the CFL’s Defensive Player of the Week, the first time in his pro football career he has won such an award.
“It’s exciting and humbling, but I know I couldn’t get that award without the other 11 players on the field,” Webb said. “I told the guys I wouldn’t get this without them, and I said someone needs to go out and get it next week and keep it right here in the Hammer.”
Both veterans, Webb and Johnson, believe health has allowed the Ticats defence to improve their level of play in recent weeks.
“Everybody getting healthy and getting some of our veteran players back in the back end has helped everybody get on the same page,” Webb said.
“As long as we can keep guys healthy - continuity is a big part of it,” Johnson explained. “You have guys playing together week in and week out and you get to know what other guys are thinking and how they’re going to react to certain things.”
Johnson believes the defence still has room to grow, but the Ticats leading tackler has liked what he’s seen from the unit during Hamilton’s win streak.
“The defensive line is playing lights out, they’re protecting us linebackers and the secondary is flying around, hitting and taking the ball away,” he said.
The Tabbies will need to make sure they come out with the same intensity at BC Place. Webb said it begins with trying to keep the fluids going into the body on the trip to the left cost so the energy level can be high come game time.
“The number one thing for us is to stay hydrated. With a five-hour flight everybody knows it takes a toll on your body and takes water out of your body. Our big focus is to be hydrated and be well prepared.”
BC has been a much different team on their home turf this season. The Leos are just 1-3 on the road, but have a perfect 4-0 record at home so far in 2013.
“It’s a championship program and all championship programs play their best ball at home,” Webb said of the Ticats Week 10 opponent.
“We know they’re going to come out fired up coming off a loss and coming back home. It’s another challenge for us to go out there and compete against a championship program that is known for winning. We have to impose our will on the opposite team, that is all.”
Dunk Dials In
Webb knew what was coming before the snap on his 24-yard interception return touchdown in Hamilton’s Week 9 win over Winnipeg.