REGINA — It wasn’t until after the game that Nik Lewis realized how close he’d come to seeing his streak of 1,000-yard receiving seasons come to an end.
The Calgary Stampeders’ slotback was 52 yards shy of that plateau heading into Saturday’s regular-season finale in Regina, but through 59 minutes had made just four catches for 51 yards, leaving him a yard shy.
But with No. 2 quarterback Drew Tate in to mop up after the Riders scored their last touchdown, Lewis made two more catches in the closing minute, for 10 and four yards respectively, to make it six straight years over 1,000.
“I had no clue,” said Lewis on Sunday. “I asked (Stamps director of community and media relations) Mike Petrie 20 or 30 minutes after the game and he told me(jokingly) I had 999 yards. But Drew hooked me up with a couple balls late in the game.”
Tate, too, was unaware of just how close Lewis was to missing out on extending the streak; in his limited playing time, he was 4-for-5 for 42 yards, and just missed rushing for a touchdown on the game’s final play, a 20-yard dash that fell three yards short of the end zone.
“Whenever you get called upon to do a job, you go do it, whether we’re winning in the fourth or losing in the fourth,” said Tate. “I’ll try to move the team as best I can.”
For Lewis, the 1,000-yard achievement helped soothe some of the frustration of an at-times maddening season during which he didn’t score a touchdown until the Stamps’ next-to-last game after scoring 10 majors in 2008.
“It’s good to get to 1,000, but it’s still a year that wasn’t up to the standard that I thought it would be,” he said. “My sixth year, I thought it would be better. I know it gets harder, you get a little more focus from the defence, but at the same time I expected better from myself. I’ll continue to push and try to be a better player.
“I was glad to get the thousand; it keeps the pressure on to do it again next year and keep the streak alive. I don’t know if I’ll catch Terry Vaughn (who has the CFL record of 11 straight 1,000-yard seasons); I don’t know if I’ll play that many more years. But I’d love to keep the streak alive.”
At the very least, the frustration will add some motivation for the post-season push, said Lewis.
“It would be nice to come out in these last three games and put on a show for everybody,” he said. “For Stamps fans (Sunday against Edmonton in the West Division semifinal) and then go down to Riderville and put on a show for them, and then come back here and put on another show (in the Grey Cup).”