It was BC Day in British Columbia and it turned out to be the BC Lions day in Ontario in a hard fought 18-9 victory over the Toronto Argonauts. Turnovers and defence were the stories of the game, and the Lions won on both counts, moving their record to 4-2, good for interim sole possession of first place in the CFL’s West Division.
Here’s how I saw it, from the couch.
The Argos lost this game in large part to turnovers and they started early, with the Lions cashing in 10 points off two early interceptions thrown by Ricky Ray. Byron Parker looked to have the first interception for the Lions secondary this season and his 10th career pick six, but a bad offside call on the Lions wiped out what would have been a sweet return to Rogers Centre for the former Argonaut. Dante Marsh ended up getting the first pick for the unit with Toronto moving the football. It was a key moment in the game.
While the offence struggled to get into a rhythm for much of the game, the defence went blow for blow with Argos, and for the second straight game, didn’t allow a touchdown by the opposition offence. They were also responsible for all four Argo turnovers. The Lions got solid pressure on Ray for much of the game, and kept Cory Boyd in check with just 23 yards on 8 carries, which was a key considering they were without defensive play caller Anton McKenzie. Rookie Jabar Westerman has a nice game for the Lions with a sack, two tackles and a forced fumble and may be the answer for when Khalif Mitchell serves his pending suspension.
With the two early gifts from the Argos the Lions were able to cash in on their first two offensive possessions. But success was infrequent after that and I don’t believe the offence had a first down in the 3rd quarter (I could be wrong). Andrew Harris found the running tough, and Travis Lulay was under solid pressure from the Argos defence, making effective receptions sparse as well. Lulay was 18 for 27, but many of the completions were short passes that left the Lions with several two and outs. Lulay did find newcomer Ernest Jackson for a key 51 yard strike to the one in the fourth quarter, but the Lions needed four cracks, including an offside call on the Argos to get into the end zone.
The Argos held Andrew Harris in check for much of the night, but July’s Top Canadian ripped off a couple important runs in the dying minutes to help seal the deal for the Lions.
The previously mentioned Jackson had a strong debut performance and may have laid claim to the receiver opening that Nick Moore failed to grab hold of in his two game audition.
I’m not sure the break could come at a better time for Paul McCallum. There is something just not quite right with the veteran kicker. While the team did a good job containing Chad Owens, McCallum’s punting continues to be inconsistent and has to be a concern at some point. Tim Brown continues to leave a long field for the offence, but he isn’t getting a lot of blocking in front of him, unless my untrained eye isn’t seeing him miss the holes.
The Lions kept McCallum from trying a 46 yard field goal, no doubt in part because of Owens waiting to return the kick if it went wide or short. But it’s worrisome that the team doesn’t have confidence in their kicker’s leg on anything over 40-45 yards. Some in Lions nation are wondering if there is a way to get two kickers on the roster if this continues.
@andrewharris33: Wasn’t pretty, but we stuck together and got the win! 4-2… #BCLions #33Nation
Stick together they did, particularly on a late headlock tackle on Harris that went uncalled. Rolly Lumbala and Harris were not pleased after the final whistle.
@LionFan15: #BCLions I guess it’s a safe bet that Ernest Jackson just leapt over Nick Moore on the depth chart for good. #CFL
Agreed…for now. Jackson has a lot to offer; size, speed and strength. I wouldn’t rule out Courtney Taylor getting a shot at some point as well, and Kierrie Johnson will be back at some point.
@GlennLove20: Just had my first game. What a great experience, but I still have a lot to improve and learn about this game. Great win for the #BCLions.
New BC Lions linebacker Glenn Love comments on his first CFL game experience.
@Heatbagger: Dominant closing drive to end the game for BC. Suitor saying BC wasn’t dominant. They only gave up 3 FG’s on the road, yup they suck. #BCLions
Well, I would say the game was pretty even. The Lions created more chances because of the turnovers, and that was the difference. Kind of agree with Suits on that one.
Until Next Time
It’s a bye week for the Lions and there is much to work on when they return, but at 4-2 the Grey Cup champs are in a good position to start the next phase of their season. Here is hoping that fans come out for a rare afternoon game in BC Place against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on the 19th. Enjoy the break everyone!
The BC Lions needed to get a win in the CFL’s West Division after dropping their last two games to Saskatchewan and Edmonton respectively. After a shaky first half full of mistakes and penalties, the Lions got going in the second half to win convincingly. Here are my thoughts, from the couch.
TSN showed the pregame speech of coach Mike Benevides where he stated to his players, “It is time, its time, it is time. It is time that we play like the team that we know we are, it’s time that we play a complete game, it’s time that we win the field position battle, it’s time for us to score a ton of points…it’s time for us to show everybody who we are.”
The Lions offence must have thought he was talking about the second half, because the first was filled with penalties and stalled drives. The defence was doing their part, but for the most part the first half was a write-off for both teams offensively until the Lions connected on a late touchdown to Akeem Foster.
If the Lions were going to win this game they were going to have to shore up their special teams, especially with Larry Taylor returning kicks. They did just that, holding Taylor to 54 yards on 4 kick returns and to just 17 yards on 2 punts. Although I was a little irritated with the effort of Khreem Smith on the opening kick-off when he just stood there watching Tim Brown try to fend off three Stampeders before the whistle had blown.
Paul McCallum seems to have found his form again after kicking four field goals, the longest from 45 yards. Hopefully the next time he faces a 44 yarder at home, they’ll let him take a crack.
Some genius on Twitter tweeted this: “Lulay just looks nervous to me. Missing open guys, didn’t sense the pressure there, almost fumbled. #BCLions #CFL”.
Ok so it was me, and right after that Lulay got his game going. The fact is that for much of the first half, Lulay didn’t look sharp, but he stuck with it and slowly found his game. By the end of the game he looked like the MOP he was last year. He didn’t turn the ball over and managed the game down the stretch very well.
Lulay used spread the ball around nicely, particularly in the second half, with Bruce and Simon playing key roles, unlike last week. At the end of the night, 30-37 for 315 yards and 3 TD’s was a solid night’s work for the Lions pivot.
In Lowell’s chat on Friday on TheProvince.com, I brought up the play of Akeem Foster. Foster had a key touchdown at the end of the first half, and Glen Suitor indicated that Foster had been injured coming out of training camp. He had a strong game, leading all Lions receivers with 5 receptions for 72 yards. If Foster can find the form he showed last year before getting hurt, the Lions are going to have an impressive stable of Canadian receivers, which will allow them valuable flexibility with the ratio in other areas.
Despite the win, the Lions would be wise to put some more emphasis on playing with control. Khalif Mitchell, already under the watchful eye of all, took an unnecessary roughing penalty early in the game and Anthony Reddick was fortunate that a very late and uncalled for shot on Kevin Glenn was not flagged. Although most of their penalties were in the first half the Lions still need to clean up that part of their game.
The Lions secondary still don’t have an interception, but it was nice to see Byron Parker cause a key turnover on a play that could have swung the momentum Calgary’s way. Deep in Lions territory, Parker punched the ball out of Johnny Forzani’s hands and Ryan Phillips recovered the fumble. It turned out to be the turning point of the game, because the Lions marched the ball down the field for a score. The Lions defence failed to register a sack on the night.
Adam Bighill picked up his first career interception and just continues to impress with his closing speed and effort, leading the team with 6 tackles on the night.
The Lions completely shut down Jon Cornish who finished with -1 yards on the night. They held the Stamps to just 29 yards rushing.
@Nightowlsinc: Most importantly, we know now that the #BCLions can win if Coach Benevides doesn’t wear a hoodie.
One of the world’s great questions answered.
@Rikester13 “@rlestage: Looks like 2010 happy feet version of #Lulay is showing it’s face #BClions #CFL” 30-37 315 yds 3 td’s #toughcrowd @TravisLulay
Pretty sure that tweet was in the first half, Mike. Don’t worry, we still love ya!
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