Using the headline “never a dull moment” in this league is probably one that could cover most weeks. We used it last week because things looked about as crazy as they’d been all season long.
One week later, things have turned on a dime and look completely different, specifically with the fortunes of two teams. At this point, I don’t think it would surprise anyone if we might see a few more swerves before the end of this 2013 campaign.
|Related: Week 14 Action|
Calgary vs. Hamilton
Four point swing
The theme of last week’s first blurb looked like it was going to continue on Saturday night, or at the very least stay status quo. The Edmonton Eskimos had a huge lead over the road weary Toronto Argonauts at Commonwealth Stadium, and the then-reeling Montreal Alouettes had a tough home date with the angry Roughriders one day later.
It sure did seem like things were set up for a pair of four win teams with one playoff spot to fight for in the final stretch of the season. Then the games played out.
To be perfectly honest, as much as the Eskimos gave up 33 unanswered second half points in their 34-22 loss to the Argos, I came away more impressed with Toronto. The Argonauts set a CFL record with a 4-0 road trip and won every game with outstanding fourth quarter performances.
Quarterback Zach Collaros is still learning, but one thing is for sure: he knows how to win games when given the football with things in the balance. A tip of the hat goes to the double blue.
We can start laying the blame game on Edmonton, but they were going to be in tough. Their most valuable player was injured in the first half, and at this point, the Eskimos just aren’t the same team without quarterback Mike Reilly. The guy will do anything to win a game, but even he couldn’t stay in after the hit he took…well, he could for one more, touchdown scoring, play. But that’s a matter for another time.
Kerry Joseph did what he could, but the Eskimos offence gradually became less effective as the game rolled on. On seven occasions in the second half, Edmonton was forced off the field after an offensive series where they ran four or less plays.
The toll that took on their defensive group was as noticeable as I can remember, and it showed most glaringly on the scoreboard.
So, while I stop short at the “how could you collapse like that?” stone throwing, the implications of the Eskimos loss can’t be ignored. They had a great opportunity to put the heat on Montreal, win a third straight game, and pick up a real confidence booster in knocking off the defending Grey Cup champs.
Things got worse the following afternoon.
Montreal deserves a ton of credit for what they did on Sunday. It was tough sledding from start to finish in their 17-12 win over Saskatchewan, but the Alouettes got through the mud and won their fifth game of the year.
Yards were extremely hard to come by for both teams and the game won’t be making any “game of the year” lists anytime soon. That said, from a players perspective, I bet games like that are the most satisfying.
Give credit where credit is due. The Montreal defence has been a pretty solid unit all year long, and they came to play against the Riders.
They picked off Darian Durant three times and held four different runners to a combined 15 yards. Yes, Kory Sheets would have made a difference, but the way that game was going he probably would only have boosted the final Rider run total to about 30.
It was also no coincidence to see a Montreal win following one of their least penalized 60 minutes of the season.
The Als took just eight penalties against Saskatchewan, compared to a whopping 16 in their Week 13 loss to Hamilton.
Montreal has been their own worst enemy far too many times this season, so it was good to see them make sure they weren’t beating themselves on Sunday.
BC is eagerly anticipating the return of Travis Lulay to their lineup, but they’d like to hold him out as long as possible, just to make sure he’s as good to go as he can be. A poor performance from Thomas DeMarco against Winnipeg may have forced their hand to accelerate Lulay’s timeline.
Luckily, the Lions defence took it up on themselves to make DeMarco’s life as easy as possible.
It’ll be tough not to hand the Defensive Player of the Week award to Adam Bighill, as the Lions linebacker was dominant in Winnipeg. The third year CFLer forced a pair of fumbles, scored a touchdown, and finished with one sack and ten tackles, terrorizing the Bombers all over the field.
It was once thought he and Solomon Elimimian couldn’t coexist in the middle tier of the Lions defence. Those thoughts no longer exist, and were further extinguished on Friday as the two combined for 15 tackles, two sacks, and three turnovers.
With all that help from his defensive mates and another perfect outing for Paul McCallum, DeMarco merely had to manage the game, which he did just fine. The second year Lion threw just six incomplete passes and one touchdown while handing off 20 times to the tune of 112 yards.
Regardless of the opponent, BC was on their game and looked scary while dismantling the Bombers.
Less than 24 hours later, it was Calgary’s turn to terrorize an opposing attack. The Stampeders forced Henry Burris to throw three interceptions and held the league’s leading passer to just 134 yards in a huge bounce back game for the Red and White defence.
The Stamps were not happy at all with their performance at home to Toronto last week, and made sure those memories were erased very quickly.
It was the Calgary secondary specifically that was suspect against the Argos. The benefit of the doubt was easily given following that game, though, as the Stamps defensive backfield had been pretty darn good in every game prior.
Still, they wanted to atone for a game they weren’t pleased with, and that they did, lead by Jamar Wall’s two interceptions.
There was an individual looking to have a bounce back game as well. Quarterback Kevin Glenn was quick to admit his week 13 performance against Toronto was not his best work. He made a couple of costly mistakes against the Argos, including a third quarter endzone interception that helped turn the tide of the game.
Against the Tiger Cats, however, Glenn got the job done and established a new dangerous target in the process. Receiver Jabari Arthur caught his first touchdown pass last weekend and added two more on Saturday afternoon.
The return of Maurice Price was huge to Calgary’s attack, as he gives them their most explosive threat when throwing the football. Having a big target like Arthur utilized as he was makes things even scarier for the CFL’s best team.
The Lions and Stampeders are separated by just one game in the West Division currently, and both teams each have a win against one another this season. The schedule sets up beautifully in the final weeks, as these two teams still have a pair of head-to-head meetings still to come. Mark week 16 at McMahon and week 19 at BC Place on your calendar for these two powerhouses.
Pat Steinberg is the co-host of the drive home program on Sportsnet Radio FAN 960 in Calgary. He also reports on the CFL and the Stampeders and hosts pre and post-game programs for the team. He looks forward to traveling to the Grey Cup every year. Follow Pat on Twitter @Fan960Steinberg.