It was a night of accomplishments for the BC Lions on Friday night. Travis Lulay got the work he needed to and seemed to emerge no worse for wear. Andrew Harris got the yards from scrimmage lead back from Jon Cornish. They closed out the regular season with a win while their defence added themselves to the club record book for the best 18 game season ever. Here is I saw this exhibition type game, from the stands.
All eyes were on the face of the franchise as he returned to his starting role behind centre. Lulay took a shot early on the shoulder on a tackle from James Patrick and it survived the test. He went 9-14 the rest of the way and his passes looked crisp and accurate for the most part. Lulay played just over a quarter before giving way to Mike Reilly. While his consecutive touchdown streak ended at 26 games, I’m sure he’ll take the successful test of the shoulder over that streak any day. So will his coach, teammates and the fans.
The Lions didn’t escape the mean nothing game unscathed and the state of the offensive line remains the primary concern of this blogger heading into the post season. Dean Valli left the game in the first quarter with what appeared to be a knee injury and if he can’t go its slim pickings at guard. Jesse Newman is having a horrible time out there and has knee issues of his own. The Lions are hoping that Jon Hameister-Ries will be ready for the Western Final, but just watching the man walk the sideline makes you realize that may be wishful thinking.
On the post game show they indicated that the Lions are looking at the logistics of flying Matt Norman in for the Western Final which would be tricky with his school schedule, but that they should be able to bring him in should they reach the Grey Cup. A healthy body on the line would certainly be a welcome addition.
Courtney Taylor and Nick Moore may give way to Geroy Simon and Arland Bruce for the Western Final, but both had strong games in relief again and Ernest Jackson and Shawn Gore were even better. For a team that at the beginning of the year had questions about the future of its receiver depth, the future looks pretty bright, as does the present.
We’re not going to take anything away from the defence, but it should be at least noted that the Riders were resting Darian Durant, Chris Getzlaf and the always dangerous Weston Dressler. Now that we have that out of the way; this Lions defence is the best in team history for a reason.
J.R. LaRose had a nice game at safety, and the defensive line did a great job all night long. At one point I decided to focus on Khalif Mitchell and it’s just amazing how much he gets double teamed and held. Adam Bighill picked up another interception and added another eight tackles to his regular season total.
Regardless of other issues, the fact remains that defence wins championships and the Lions are going to be very tough to beat with this group.
Lumbala had a couple of nice carries tonight and it sure would be nice to see a larger offensive role for him, because I think he can contribute. He’s a big load when he gets going and you would think he could be utilized more in short yardage situations, as well as down near the end zone.
One Last Thanks
On a non-football note, I want to send out one last thank you to our veterans who were saluted at halftime Friday night. The Lions do a fantastic job of this annual salute each year, and no matter how many times I watch it, it reminds me of how fortunate we are to live in such a great country and to enjoy the freedoms that we do because of these men and women.
Off To the Playoffs
I can’t believe the regular season is done and the playoffs are upon us. The Lions have set themselves up to play one game for a chance to defend their title in the 100th Grey Cup. I really hope that the fans in this city and province come out and pack BC Place on November 18th because this team deserves the support.
Until the Western final, take care and roar you Lions roar!
When the game started Friday night the BC Lions were apparently on Vancouver time as they didn’t start playing versus an eager Calgary Stampeders team until the 2nd quarter. There was no shortage of reasons why the Lions found themselves down 34-0 before they knew what hit them, and here’s how Brian Wawryshyn from BCLionsDen.ca saw it, from the couch.
Short field for the Stamps
The Lions started the game by giving the Stamps a short field, an occurrence that was frequent on the night. Paul McCallum continues to struggle punting the football, and that has to be a concern as the playoffs approach. I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing Hugh O’Neill dress for the Saskatchewan game because you may as well see what you have in him with live bullets flying. The Lions are giving up too much field position of late because of a poor kicking game.
Turnovers and penalties (the Lions took the first 10 of the game) also contributed to the poor field position for the Lions on a night where pretty much anything that could go wrong did.
If that was a preview of what life might be like on the offensive line without Angus Reid as the general, someone find me an anti-aging machine, stat. The Lions offence was clearly out of synch most of the night and it was mainly because the offensive line had no answer for the Calgary pass rush all night long.
There is no point in singling anyone out because as a unit they weren’t good enough. Not only was the pass protection poor the run blocking was awful as well, the five times they elected to hand the ball off to Andrew Harris, whose frustration was evident more than once last night.
While you’re getting me that anti-aging machine, get me some new knees and a new back for Jon Hameister-Ries.
The second start in the CFL career of Mike Reilly didn’t go as smoothly as the first. The previously mentioned offensive line didn’t help his cause, but Reilly looked a little off as well. To his credit he battled back and for a moment you felt that with one more touchdown, the Lions just might come all the way back. They almost got that TD when Reilly connected deep with Courtney Taylor only to have the ball ripped free by a Stampeder defender.
It will be an interesting week at Lions practice. If Travis Lulay doesn’t throw again this week, do we start to get concerned that this injury is more serious then the team is letting on? With two weeks before the Western Final the Lions would like to get Lulay some work, and it would be a month before he had any snaps if he doesn’t play until then. Some anxious times are coming for the Lions and their fans in the next two weeks.
As mentioned above, Harris was visibly frustrated at times in this game. It was the second game in a row that the young star of Lions has been held in check for the most part by the opposition. There doesn’t seem to be any holes open for Harris on handoffs and they aren’t finding him out of the backfield either. The team is going to have to find ways for him to get the ball as they are going to need a solid running game in the playoffs, especially if teams are going to be teeing off on the QB like the Stamps were doing all night.
Seeing some positives
There were some good things to take from the game as well. Geroy Simon returned to the lineup and was somewhat productive, showing no signs of a sore hamstring. Thomas Demarco got in a little work in the fourth quarter and didn’t look to bad, showing some of the accuracy the Lions like in him. Adam Bighill continued his never take a game off attitude and was the best Lion on the field, again.
Of course the fact the Lions did show some pride after getting down 34-0 and almost made a game of it was a small positive. If the Taylor turnover hadn’t occurred who knows what would have happened, but it was just kind of night and the Lions probably didn’t deserve such a comeback.
What does it mean?
It’s hard to take much from this game. The game obviously meant more to the Stampeders who had yet to beat the Lions this season and wanted to plant a seed for the future. BC was obviously not ready to play, and you can only hope the game served as a wakeup call. Coach Mike Benevides was not a happy camper on the sidelines and he’ll make adjustments. This is a veteran group and I expect the Lions will want to bring their “A” game next week against Saskatchewan. If they don’t there could be cause for concern heading into the playoffs.
There is nothing like having depth when it comes to assembling a football team and the BC Lions proved theirs once again last night. Mike Reilly steered the Lions to a 39-19 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos to punch their ticket to the 2012 Western Final and I’m pleased to present my first place clinching thoughts, from the stands.
After the interception on the first series, Mike Reilly took command of the team and settled in. I thought he made some hasty decisions at times, but that’s being extremely picky on my part. The Lions couldn’t have asked for more from their backup QB who showed all he has the tools to play. Watching his mannerisms on the field one might have thought Lulay was in the game. The offence sputtered a little in the third quarter, allowing Edmonton to stick around, but again I’m being picky. It was a very impressive performance by Reilly. Not only did Reilly prove that he has the skills to play, he also reinforced that no one in this league finds and develops quarterbacks in this league better than the Lions.
I thought the unsung hero of the night was Tim Brown. Not only did Brown have a great night returning kicks, he was a force on offence as well, particularly on some nicely executed shovel passes. His 23 yard run at the end of the game was a nice way to cap a strong game in which he racked up 268 all-purpose yards. With the Eskimos doing a good job of containing Andrew Harris, Brown’s contribution was solid and well schemed by Jacques Chapdelaine and the Lions.
Mike Reilly, Nick Moore, Courtney Taylor, Ernest Jackson, Maurice Evans, Brandon Jordan, Jabar Westerman, Patrick Kabongo, Jesse Newman. All depth guys who have stepped in for starters in the last few weeks and the team hasn’t missed a beat. The Lions now have the chance to get some guys healthy the rest of the way, but they’ll also have some tough decisions to make as it will be really tempting to keep some of these guys in. One could even argue that the offence has been more productive in the last three weeks then it was earlier in the season. Regardless as some of the players on this team near the end of their careers, it leaves you with a good feeling about the future.
Stubler Let’s Em Loose
The Lions defensive pressure was relentless last night. It left them vulnerable to the long pass at times, but for the most part it had the desired effect. Eight sacks were racked up and Kerry Joseph completed just six passes all night long. When the defence wasn’t busy sacking Joseph, they were shutting down Hugh Charles, rendering the Eskimo offence a non factor for most of the night.
Shawn Gore is quickly becoming the Lions go to guy on 2nd down. His clutch catches haven’t come without a price either as for yet another game he took another big hit when he was sandwiched between two Eskimos in the fourth quarter. Akeem Foster also contributed which was nice to see. His 47 yard reception after the Reilly interception on the first series was important in more ways than one.
Proud Papa Phillips
Ryan Phillips had more than one chance to get an interception for his newborn son and finally got one in the fourth to really put a nail in the coffin of the Eskimos. Phillips had to be shocked after Cary Koch’s highlight of the year candidate catch, but he had a strong game overall and has been really noticeable the last two weeks.
Home Field Advantage
Lions fans are really starting to get it and the crowd of just over 30,000 were again a factor. It’s getting loud on defence, and not just at the end of the game. Imagine what type of advantage the Lions could have at home if it continues to improve, or if we can add another 20,000 people for the Western Final. I just love this time of year as the playoffs approach. The crowds get bigger, the fans get into it, and I just can’t wait for November 18th.
The BC Lions walked into their final appearance at Hamilton’s historic Ivor Wynne Stadium and were all business, cruising to a 37-17 victory over the Tiger-Cats who were completely outplayed on the night.
Here once again are my much anticipated and often celebrated, thoughts from the couch.
Travis Lulay opened the game like a surgeon, methodically working the Lions down the field and using up over 6:00 minutes before punching it in with his 26th consecutive game with a TD pass. It was almost embarrassing how easy the Lions moved the ball and how many times they converted on 2nd down. It was revealed after the game that Lulay had lost his Grandmother the day before the game and he went out and had best game of the season, proving once again his undeniable leadership.
Here’s hoping Iannuzzi will be okay after that terrible headshot he took from Dee Webb of the Ticats. TSN’s Glen Suitor seemed to think it was more a football play gone bad, but not many were buying that. That is exactly the kind of hit that the league needs to get rid of and Iannuzzi was in very rough shape afterwards and did not remember the hit. It most certainly means another addition to the Lions injured list. Some credit to Webb who reportedly sought out Iannuzzi after the game to apologize for the hit.
Depth and more depth
Despite injuries, the Lions just keep having guys step in. The latest is Courtney Taylor who had a touchdown, a beautiful catch on another that was called back because of a penalty, and other key catches. Shawn Gore had a strong game as well particularly in the 3rd quarter when he was the go to target. Nick Moore was also strong again, while on defence Jabar Westerman and Brandon Jordan filled in nicely again on the defensive line, who at times just had their way with the Ticats at the line of scrimmage.
Andrew Harris had another solid outing picking up two touchdowns and becoming the CFL record holder for yards from scrimmage by a Canadian player. Harris is just getting better all the time. He’s effective whether he’s grinding it out on the ground or releasing out of the backfield. And don’t forget his blocking either as there were several plays where the Lions star was picking up the blitz and giving Lulay the time needed to find a receiver downfield.
The Lions were deploying the thirty defence for much of the night, and were even lining up seven tight up to the line of scrimmage at times. Injuries to Khalif Mitchell and Eric Taylor and the addition of Solomon Elimimian have given the Lions the option to tinker with their look on defence and it could have played a big role in the lack of success the Ticats had, seeing as they likely hadn’t seen much of that look on film.
The cover teams had one breakdown that led to a Hamilton touchdown, but they held Chris Williams in check. Tim Brown responded after that breakdown with a massive return of his own that must have just deflated the Ticats. Brown finished with 142 return yards on the night and also contributed on offence filling in for Harris.
He has taken plenty of heat over the years, so it’s only right that when things go as well as they did on offence tonight he should get a lot of credit as well. I though the Lions offensive game plan was brilliant and was executed at a high level tonight. The Lions owned second down and receivers were open all night long.
Bye Bye Ivor Wynne
It was the final game for the Lions at Ivor Wynne Stadium, which will be torn down at the end of the season. Plans were unveiled today for the new stadium and it looks as though it will be a great new facility for the people of Hamilton. I was fortunate enough to see a game there for the first time this year and it was a great place to watch a football game.
Friday Night Tweets
@GeroySimon: That was a BULLSH$&T hit by D Webb!
@CraigNichols2: Why is Iannuzzi walking so far? Is there not a golf cart at Ivor Wynne? #BCLions #Ticats #CFL
Geroy summed it up quite nicely. The hit has no place in the game. And Craig also had a valid point; Where was the cart to take Iannuzzi off the field? He pretty much had to walk around half the field and he was still badly dazed.
@dantemarsh: ANDREW HARRIS BEST RUNNING BACK IN THE CFL…PERIOD… CHUUUUUCH!!!
I’ll go with that.
As Angus Reid had said earlier in the week, it was time to see what type of statement the Lions would make at home against the Calgary Stampeders. The Lions defended their home turf in impressive fashion on Saturday night, giving their fans plenty to be thankful for on this holiday weekend. Here’s my take from the stands.
I thought Travis Lulay did a beautiful job executing the game. He was without a lot of experience in his receiving unit with Simon and Bruce out, but Lulay got all the receivers involved. On the first drive alone he used Andrew Harris, Nick Moore, Kierrie Johnson and Shawn Gore. When he needed to pull the ball down and run with it, he did. When Lulay is spreading the ball around and using his legs, the Lions offence is so much better.
Welcome Back Andrew
Andrew Harris got involved in the game early and that certainly set things up for the Lions to have better success passing the ball. His first two touches set the tone, and his carry in the dying seconds of the 1st quarter was Harris at his best, bursting through the line and carrying defenders on his back.
Harris outperformed Jon Cornish head to head for the second time this season and proved that the Lions offence is much better when he is heavily involved.
The defence had a strong game despite the injuries up front. I thought Khreem Smith stepped up and his fourth quarter sack of Kevin Glenn was a big play at a big time. Dante Marsh had another strong game and Ryan Phillips had his best game in a long time. His interception was a big play, because if he missed it was likely six points for the Stampeders.
The Lions did a great job containing Jon Cornish once again, holding the Stamps star to 61 yards on 10 carries.
Nick Moore once again did a nice job filling in for Geroy Simon leading all Lions receivers with 5 catches for 83 yards and a touchdown, and really he should have had a second in the third quarter. Courtney Taylor showed why the Lions have kept him around with a couple of nice catches and also drew a key pass interference penalty.
On defence, despite some rookie aggression that was quickly reined in by Anton McKenzie, Brandon Jordan had a nice game. He was getting good push and his big frame and speed were impressive.
Let’s just state the obvious right now. When Angus Reid retires he’s going directly into the Lions Ring of Honour. Is there a bigger warrior on this team? Not only did he subtly call his team out to make a statement this week, but he left the game with a reported knee problem only to return later, this despite already playing with a bad ankle. His absence was felt in the 2nd quarter when an Adam Baboulas snap sailed over the head of Travis Lulay with the Lions in the red zone, stalling the drive.
Are Vancouverites starting to get it? I have to say the crowd of 31,347 was into the game last night and not only near the end of it. With bigger crowds coming as we hit the final two home games, BC Place is going to be a very tough place to play if the fans can play a role like they did Saturday. When the Lions play like they did last night and the place is hopping it makes for a great environment.
Fans agree, the crowd was into it last night:
@Canuck_4_Life: 13th man in full effect last night at #bcplace for the #Feast4First
@GrandMasterC: #BCLions D and the crowd @bcplace coming up huge here! #Feast4First #CFL
@BigBen604: WOOOOW!!! LOVE this ENERGY in BC Place!!! Its ELECTRIC!! Amaaazzing atmosphere!!! #BCLions #Feast4First #GetLOUD”
A shout out to the Lions rookies:
CJDixon71: @BCLions gettin it done with the rookies. That’s the way we roll. #clinch #Feast4First #BCLions #CFLonTSN
Happy Thanksgiving everyone, enjoy the games on Monday and rest of your long weekend!
The BC Lions knew going in that Mosaic field is hostile territory, especially when you allow the home side to get a lead. The Lions had a sloppy and inefficient first half and dug themselves too big a hole, falling 27-21 to the Riders. Here is how I saw the fourth loss of the season, from the couch.
The Weston Dressler Show
I’m not sure how you game plan for the Riders and aren’t prepared for a heavy dose of Weston Dressler. The talented Rider receiver is going to make his plays, but it seemed at times he was a forgotten man by the Lions defence. Cauchy Muamba had a front row seat for the show and had a tough night but there were other miscues as well. Muamba is starting to be a target for opposing offences and the Lions may need to address that soon.
The play calling was very suspect at times in this game. The Riders had three starters missing from their defensive line, although with the pressure they got you wouldn’t have known. Despite that, the Lions rarely ran the ball and Andrew Harris didn’t even get a touch until 4:00 into the second quarter. Then with the game on the line after a successful onside kick, the Lions go deep twice with 1:18 left on the clock, failing on each attempt. The funny thing is Harris had 8 carries for 78 yards which says he maybe should have been a bigger focus in the game plan, especially with pressure Lulay was under. He has to be a bigger part of the offence, especially when you lose your two best receivers to injury.
Riders Offensive Line
While Lulay was under constant pressure in the first half, the Lions defensive front was for the most part held at bay. The Lions dressed one less defensive lineman (Mitchell) to get Solomon Elimimian into the lineup, so you have to wonder if that had an effect fatigue or continuity wise. I thought the Riders clearly won the battle in the trenches overall and when you do that you generally win football games.
Solomon Elimimian was credited with one tackle on the night. At times there looked to be a little confusion between himself and Bighill when they were on the field together. For his part Bighill had another solid game with 13 tackles. Some are wondering if the Lions should have upset the apple cart but Elimimian is a solid player, and hopefully as things progress the unit will get tighter. Overall there was sloppy tackling by the Lions as a defensive unit, and that is going to have to get better in a hurry with Jon Cornish coming to town.
Marco Iannuzzi and Kierrie Johnson
Both receivers stepped up when Simon (Hamstring) and Bruce (Concussion) went out. Johnson who led all Lions with 75 yards on the night made a key catch on 2nd and 25 while Iannuzzi had two TD’s on three catches. Paris Jackson also showed he can still contribute and had one called back on an iffy offensive pass interference call. If Bruce and Simon can’t go next week the Lions should have the depth to get by for a week or so with Ernest Jackson and Nick Moore also available.
The Lions are likely hoping that Tim Brown will be ready to go next week after a shaky debut by Anthony Stewart. The rookie bobbled a couple of punts and didn’t show too much on the ones he caught. First game jitters sure, but the Lions can’t afford to risk turnovers on special teams down the stretch.
The Right Decision
Arland Bruce (@RUNAKORETH) tweeted after the game to thank the doctors of the BC Lions for following the proper procedures in regards to the concussion protocol. Reports during the game suggested Bruce wanted back in but he was shut down by the team. Earlier in the day Buck Pierce took a hit to the chin, left the game and returned, only to leave again. I’m not suggesting I know the situation in Winnipeg or that they did something wrong, but kudos to the Lions staff.
Really, for the first time this season the Lions are facing a little adversity. The offence is inconsistent and they may enter next week’s first place battle with the Stamps without their two top receivers. All of a sudden their comfortable lead atop the West division isn’t so comfortable. It will be interesting to see just how they respond next week against the surging Stampeders.
The BC Lions came into Edmonton on a roll and snuck out with a 19-18 win over the Eskimos. It was a tale of two halves with Edmonton controlling the first and the Lions dominating the second. Here is how we saw it, from the couch.
A Tale of Two Games
The best way to describe this game is that each team won a half of football. The Lions just got one more point when all the dust had settled. The Eskimos defence was able to get good pressure on Travis Lulay in the first two quarters. While they didn’t record a sack they often hurried the Lions QB forcing him to throw the ball away or miss his targets. While the Lions offence was out of sync, the defence was again steady, although they gave up the only major of the half.
In the second half the Lions defence cranked it up and the offence got on the back of Andrew Harris. Lulay once again showed his leadership and poise leading a much more efficient attack.
You know your defence played pretty well when Fred Stamps has just one catch for eleven yards. Adam Bighill continues to send a message that he isn’t going anywhere as a starter in coming weeks. His pursuit of the ball and spying of the QB was brilliant.
Eskimos Game Plan
The Eskimos seem to have a good game plan when it comes to playing the Lions. In the first half Jyles had good protection and went 12-13. His throws were crisp and on target. Hugh Charles is a nice weapon and Kerry Koch had some very nice receptions including one that will be on the year end best of reel.
Their defence was getting good pressure without three starters. The tide changed in the second half after the Lions started to control the line of scrimmage. It was a similar game plan to what the Eskimos displayed in the first game between the two teams in Vancouver. Regardless, the Eskimos have given the Lions a lot of problems this season.
Carrying the Load
Andrew Harris carried the offence on his back with 103 rushing yards and 78 through the air. In the second half he was amazing, especially with second and third efforts that at times just bowled over defenders. His big run to set up the Simon touchdown was the turning point in the game. Harris had to carry the full load with the injury to Tim Brown, who may not be in the lineup when the Lions face Saskatchewan next week.
Is it just me or was the Simon TD the same play call that Joe Burnett picked off for a TD in Vancouver? Gutsy call if so.
All eyes were on Khalif Mitchell, in the stadium, on the field and on TSN, where he seemed to be the topic of the night. Mitchell was simply having his way with the Eskimos offensive line between the whistles. But the attention was once again cast his way for his antics after the whistle and before the snap. Mitchell was seen for what appeared to be throat slashing gestures on three occasions. He claimed after the game that he was making a cross. Mitchell and teammate Khreem Smith also had words on the sidelines and teammates intervened.
Mitchell is an all-star defensive lineman. When he is on his game he is a force that is hard to contain. He was on Twitter after the game asking fans what they thought of TSN’s constant attention on him. If he would cut out the animated stuff and just let his play do the talking he would be getting attention in a totally different way. I get that he’s a unique guy and likes to play with passion, but there comes a point where you need to represent yourself and your teammates in a certain way. Away from the field Mitchell is a totally different person, on it he needs to learn how to reign himself in a bit.
I asked for some comments during the game on Twitter using the hash tag #fromthecouch and here are a few, with my two cents in response. I’d like to make this a regular part of the blog.
@Greasy_Munky: Champions do not simply prevail, they fight…ALWAYS! Lulay has given BC a comfort last had only with Dave Dickenson. #FromTheCouch
I wouldn’t say I was ever comfortable with Dickenson like I am with Lulay, just because of the durability difference between the two. More than giving them comfort Lulay has given them consistency at the position, which is huge in developing an offence.
@AviewFromABroad: @BCLionsDen @Bighill44 & @andrewharris33 were spectacular tonight. Ugly or not, a win is a win. #FromTheCouch #bc
@BClionsuperfan: Even when they don’t get the breaks the #BCLions still find a way to win #FromTheCouch
Absolutely, and the Lions made the better adjustments at half time. Steven Jyles didn’t complete a pass in the 3rd quarter. Good teams know how to win and the Lions have a veteran leadership group. That was the difference tonight. As far as getting the breaks, I was surprised that they overturned the Banks fumble recovery, as I didn’t see enough evidence to suggest Charles had the ball when he was down. As I said above I think they got the Johnson call right, for the same reason. That said this league really has to look at what constitutes intentional grounding, as one I thought should have been called on Jyles wasn’t, leaving them in position for a field goal which they made.
@MissLilDvl: Proud of KJ right now!! And noticing it’s taking 3 & 4 guys to take him down!!! Boy’s HUNGRY!!! #FromTheCouch #WildWest #BCLions
I thought Kierrie Johnson had a nice return to the lineup. He was certainly a focus of the offensive game plan at times and was getting behind defenders. When Brown went down he filled on kick returns as well. His fumble was unfortunate, but I think they got that call right.
Next up for the Lions is another western division battle against the Roughriders of Saskatchewan. Enjoy the rest of week 13 everyone!
The BC Lions were not as dominating as they were the previous week against the Montreal Alouettes. But give full credit to the Toronto Argonauts, who came to play and used turnovers and a little trickery to amass their 23 points. Here is how we saw the Lions 28-23 win, from the stands.
Knowing How to Win
It wasn’t the start to finish effort that we saw against Montreal but as the saying goes, it doesn’t matter how you win, just win. The Lions seemed to want to go to the air early and often in the first quarter and it took them a little time to get in sync. That said, the offence was moving the ball, but it was turnovers that killed early drives. The defence was more consistent, holding the Argos offence scoreless in the first half, their only points coming from the defence following an early Andrew Harris fumble. Good teams know how to win, and at times it seems this veteran team just seems to know when to step up the intensity.
Getting it Goring
Geroy Simon returned to the lineup and ended a nine game drought of going without a 100 yard game. That said how good can Shawn Gore become? His three catches for 96 yards and his gutsy touchdown were all key plays in the game. Some feel Gore wants to take another shot down south, but how great would it be to get him signed to an extension? I think we are just starting to see how good he’s going to be and it’s exciting.
As he did last year, Travis seems to be getting more confident and consistent as the season goes on. He did throw an interception, but his leadership is undeniable. He holds himself accountable and you never see Lulay lose his cool. If a teammate drops a pass, he goes right back to him. Lulay is a keeper and I hope he’s a Lion for many years to come. He has become the face of the franchise on and off the field.
Another special player is Chad Owens. While the Lions held him in check for the most part in returns, he notched another 100 yard game on the season and made the Lions secondary look foolish on his 52 yard TD in the fourth following the fake punt. He has evolved as a multi-dimensional player and has been one of the best receivers in the league this year.
Be Awake For the Fake
For the second time in three games the Lions got caught napping on a special teams play. I’m not sure if Swayze Waters made the call himself or if it was planned but the Lions simply can’t leave that type of fake uncontested. Watching it again later, not one Lions player was spying on the kicker and when Waters noticed, he almost looked surprised at how much room he had to run. That play put the Argos back in the game, as the resulting TD on that drive – another break down in coverage – brought them within five, setting up the tense final few minutes.
Some of you may have read my article in the paper about how BC Lions fans needed to step their game up. I thought for the most part the crowd was better and on the final series of the game it was really loud and it looked like there was a communication problem between Ray and one of his receivers. Obviously it was a huge moment in the game so fans were into it, but that type of noise is what it’s like on every defensive series in Saskatchewan and Winnipeg. What a huge home field advantage the Lions would have if fans did that on every down. Kudos to the Lions as well as they did make another attempt to get the BC chant going and it did at one end of the stadium. If they get a few more people involved and space them out on either side of the field, we may have success! The fans also did a great job with not making noise when the Lions had the ball.
Next week the Lions take on the Eskimos and start a huge string of games against the West. We’ll be back with our thoughts from the couch.
It’s good to be home. Last week I had the awesome experience of watching the Lions play live in Montreal. I also had the privilege of attending the Labour Day Classic in Hamilton, the last one for old Ivor Wynne Stadium. But no matter where you travel it’s always good to come home and the Lions were probably saying the same thing after a 43-10 trouncing of the Alouettes at BC Place. Here’s how it looked to me, from the stands.
Great Start, Great Consistency
With the 1 pm start time, the Lions chose to stay at a high end downtown hotel the night before the game. Perhaps they should make that a regular practice because they played their most complete game of the season. The offence moved the ball consistently all night long. The offensive line, who had a tough night in Montreal last week stepped up to provide Travis Lulay with much better protection. I thought Jon Hameister-Ries had an outstanding game at guard.
The Lions mixed things up with their backs a little as well, using more of Tim Brown, who had some nice carries. That unit also did a much better of picking up their blocks. Andrew Harris didn’t have a dominating game, but he did grind out valuable yards when called on.
On defence the Lions started a little slow, allowing the Als to move the ball on their first few possessions, but they settled in and completely shut Montreal down from the second quarter. The Lions got better pressure on Anthony Calvillo then they did a week ago, therefore the secondary was able to cover much better this week.
This was the best game Lulay has played in a while. He was really spreading the ball around, had good zip on his passes and chose wisely when choosing to keep the ball. He just seemed very confident in a four TD pass performance. It was nice to see Mike Reilly and others get some work later in the game as well.
With Geroy Simon scratched from the lineup, the Lions looked to replace him by committee and those that were enlisted did a fantastic job. In particular, Nick Moore and Ernest Jackson had great games. Many thought Moore was running out of chances with the Lions but his performance against the Als showed you why the Lions have kept him around. His third quarter touchdown was all about awareness and second effort.
Jackson continues to get better and his deep touchdown catch in the fourth quarter was a beauty. Marco Iannuzzi, Arland Bruce and Shawn Gore all had strong performances as well. If you’re a real student of the game watch Bruce run his pass routes; they’re simply clinical.
It was a much different Als performance than I saw last week in Montreal. They weren’t in sync at all and were completely dominated after the first quarter. They took a ton of penalties as well, but even if they hadn’t there was no way they were winning this game. So much for the time change theory, they’re winless streak at BC Place goes on. I feel sorry for the Riders next week…no wait.
Just fewer than 30,000 fans took in the game. That’s a pretty good number for a 1 pm start when parents are out and about with their kids’ sports tournaments and such.
I do wish our crowd was louder though. The crowd can play a factor in a football game and while Lions fans generally do a decent job, it’s not anywhere near the participation I’ve seen in other cities. I hate harping on things like this, especially after such a great performance by the team. I just wish some fans were more passionate about the home field advantage aspect of the game.
I’d love to see your comments on the game below!
With Joey Elliott referring to himself as a gunslinger a week earlier, Travis Lulay and the BC Lions rode into town from the wild west for a showdown. But it was the defence of both teams that did most of the shooting in a 20-17 BC Lions win on a last second Paul McCallum field goal. Here’s how I saw it, from the couch.
Something is wrong with the Lions offence, and they’ll need to figure it out this week before heading to Montreal. To me it seems like the offensive line is a little off at the moment. Lowell Ullrich mentioned in his video blog that Angus Reid is possibly banged up (ankle) which could partially explain the lack of production from the running game lately.
Lulay was pressured often and made some bad decisions; his two interceptions in the fourth were prime examples. Hand-offs to Andrew Harris appeared telegraphed and awkward at times.
On Twitter @CFLDaily so accurately tweeted, “The best players don’t always have the best games, but when their team needs them, they come through. See what Lulay does.”
Lulay came through with a big play downfield to Shawn Gore, with the pocket collapsing around him. It was a clutch play for sure and earlier I suggested it may be time for Lulay to take a seat. While some saw that as a lack of faith, I simply saw it as one of those games and a chance to see if Reilly could spark something. I’m glad I was wrong.
Clutch as well was Geroy Simon, who among two Bombers defenders made a key catch on the final drive.
The Lions also need to find a way to get Harris going again on the ground. Again, it could be a product of the trench battles, but it seems like the running game is getting stuffed a lot. He came through when it counted however, as he usually does.
Finally, the Lions had a tough time dealing with the noise in the stadium. There were procedure calls, and clock management issues that are indications that the team needs to work on this aspect of their offence a little more to clean things up.
The Lions defence certainly came to play again and were awesome in the first half. They struggled a bit with some sloppy tackling in to start the second and took some penalties that hurt, though a couple were just plain bad calls. I thought the Bombers offensive line did a pretty good job containing the Lions pass rush and giving Elliott time to throw, especially in the second half.
Elliott was able to find pockets in between coverage in the secondary, particularly with Chris Matthews to keep drives going. On the drive that Winnipeg tied the game at 17, I thought the defence played a little too soft before forcing the field goal.
Jabar Westerman continues to show why the Lions wanted him so badly in the draft and had another strong performance filling in for the suspended Khalif Mitchell, who returns next week.
The no touchdown streak came to an end, but it was going to sometime. Still it was a very impressive outing overall by the defence.
It sounds like a broken record but field position was a factor in the game, especially in the second half. The Lions allowed a decent return to start the second half and it took them almost the whole half to get out of their end of the field. The return game wasn’t strong and once again blocking was poor, giving Tim Brown and Marco Iannuzzi and company little hope of getting a big return.
There were bad calls that went both ways tonight. I did think the roughing the passer call on Stewart of the Bombers was legit. Lulay had slowed to a slow trot and was clearly headed out of bounds. Stewart just had to ride him out, not take him down and that will get called every time.
Other calls were questionable including two roughing the passer penalties for a shove on Joey Elliott by Dante Marsh and Jabar Westerman respectively. Corey Watson was flagged for objectionable conduct for spinning the ball after a catch, a move not unlike what Geroy Simon does routinely. Overall the officiating was pretty strict tonight.
The “Gunslinger” had a tough first half and was probably fortunate to not have a few more passes picked after throwing a few into the hands of Lions defenders who couldn’t haul them in. But Elliott never got rattled and had a decent second half. Perhaps the Bombers do have a new Sheriff in town.
I can hear some saying now, “We won and all you’re doing is complaining”. Sure the win is all that counts, but there is a lot of work to be done. Credit has to go the Bombers as well who played hard and made the Lions earn the win. The Lions will be facing a good Montreal team next week and will have to be on top of their game to extend their streak to five in a row.
Next game I’ll be at McGill to take in the game live. I’m not sure if I’ll have a chance to get a blog in, so if not, I’ll see you in two weeks when the Lions return home to take on the Alouettes in the second leg of a back to back.