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 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!
The Eskimos and Lions engaged in a defensive battle for much of Friday’s contest, but as was the case in Saskatchewan a week earlier, special teams and a costly mistake were contributing factors in the team’s second loss of the season and second in as many games. Here are my thoughts, from the stands.
Gentlemen, Watch Mr. Harris Please
If every BC Lion started the game with the determination that Andrew Harris did last night, the result may have been a lot different. In fact, after some of the plays he had early on, it’s a wonder he didn’t jack his teammates up to his level. Harris refused to be tackled and early on it was clear the game plan was to get him involved to neutralize the Edmonton pass rush. For the most part they were successful, racking up 453 yards in offence against the “league’s best defence”. Harris finished the night with 185 yards, 120 of them through catch and runs.
The Lions racked up much of that offence because they were starting deep in their own end much of the night. The Eskimos on the other hand enjoyed numerous starts at midfield thanks to shoddy return coverage and below average punting from Paul McCallum. McCallum has had a shaky start to 2012, and looked visibly frustrated coming off the field at times last night. The Lions didn’t even attempt a 44 yard field goal, in the dome, with the roof closed. That has to tell you something about the confidence that the coach has in his special teams unit right now. I’m not sure what Benevides can do to fix the situation, but it needs to be rectified quickly.
All That Talent, So Little Use
With the exception of Harris and Marco Iannuzzi, who is proving he belongs, the Lions didn’t have many other weapons on the night. Geroy Simon and Arland Bruce had four catches between them and that’s just a waste. The Lions are going to have to find ways to get Bruce and Simon more involved, and what has happened to Akeem Foster? This was a guy who looked like he had arrived before injuring his knee last year, and now is almost invisible in the offence.
Travis Lulay looked uneasy at times and appeared to lock onto one receiver on numerous occasions. Nick Moore returned to the lineup and showed ok, although he dropped one with no one around him that won’t do him any favours in his bid to make more frequent appearances in the lineup.
The defence did their job for the most part. I thought Dante Marsh was having a strong game before he left with another dislocated shoulder. Hopefully he will be ok, and Marsh was telling anyone who would listen after the game that he would be fine. It’s the same shoulder he’s injured in the past.
Just two sacks for the defence on the night, and the difference was the two turnovers by the Eskimos defence. The Lions need to get more of those from their defence, especially with the offence not firing on all cylinders.
The Eskimos came as advertised. I though Steven Jyles had a pretty good game, connecting on some nice plays before leaving with reported concussion symptoms. Kerry Joseph did his job managing the game the rest of the way. I’m still not sold that the Eskimos can win a Grey Cup with that tandem though. Much like the Lions tried to neutralize the Lions pass rush, the Eskimos did the same with a lot of work for Hugh Charles who finished with 118 yards rushing and another 61 through the air.
Their defence is solid, but the Lions did a nice job with the Eskimos front seven, only allowing one sack on the night, although there were many hurries. Right now you have to say the Eskimos are playing the best defence in the league and that unit is definitely winning them games, but it’s not November yet.
The Turning Point
With the Lions looking to punch it into the end zone to take the lead they chose to pass the ball on first and goal. Lulay tried to force a pass into Geroy Simon a touch late, who had two defenders on him. TJ Hill contacted Simon, the ball deflected into the arms of Joe Burnett who took it back 107 yards for the touchdown that would prove to be the nail in the coffin for the Lions. With the way Andrew Harris was playing it was surprising to see the Lions pass on first and goal. Not only that, but they emptied the back field telegraphing a pass play and Lulay was hurried on the play. That’s the way it has been the last two of games; one mistake, game over.
The Mitchell Play
I didn’t see this during the game, so I had to watch it on the PVR. I just don’t see this intent to injure other are seeing. What I am seeing is Rottier having a hold on Mitchell, to the point where it actually looks as though his hand is caught in Mitchell’s pads. To me it looks like Mitchell was just trying to break free of the hold. I’ll call a spade a spade if it’s warranted, but that’s what it looked like to me. Mitchell is an emotional player, and I’ve often wondered if we would see him lose his cool at some point. He may be getting a little frustrated with all the double teams he’s seeing, but I really don’t think there was any “intent” to injure Rottier.
I’m all for player social media use, but it may be a little inappropriate that Eskimos offensive lineman Greg Wojt tweeted at halftime: “Annoyed at the play, that was bush league by Khalif Mitchell. Intentionally trying to injure a player #NoClass.”
On to a tough game in Calgary next week, and as Coach Benevides is fond of saying this Lions team has lots of work to do.
Don’t worry Hamiltonians, 0-2 is no big thing, really.
Friday’s game was entertaining but BC certainly didn’t make things easy on themselves. That said, all facets of the game contributed to the win in some way. Here was my view, from the stands.
Once again the offence was hot and cold, although credit has to go to the Ticats as well who have a pretty strong and aggressive defence.
Travis Lulay was 17-31 for 178 yards and two touchdowns and that seems to match his performance for the night. He seemed to be just a touch off on his deep throws all night long. He did manage the game well and in particular the last drive of the game (with a huge assist to Andrew Harris).
Harris had a big night and while most of it came on two carries, the Canadian running back rose to the occasion, sealing the win fourth quarter and finishing the night with 140 yards on 13 carries.
A nod has to go to the offensive line as well for opening the holes for Harris and surrendering zero sacks on the night.
In the first half the Lions defence had Henry Burris off his game. Following an Anthony Reddick interception to set up a Lions score, Burris was pulled to think about things by his head coach, George Cortez, but Quinton Porter was just as ineffective. When Burris returned to start the third quarter, the veteran showed his poise in the pocket and used it to find open receivers, particularly on two fourth quarter drives.
The pass defence gave up 359 yards on the night, and they will want to shore things up as they head into Regina next weekend to face Weston Dressler, Chris Getzlaf, Rob Bagg and company.
The front four were effective again albeit more so in the first half, but they did rack up four sacks and several hurries on the night. I thought Adam Bighill continued to show well at linebacker, and Anton McKenzie had another strong game.
Cover teams continue to struggle and it has to be a concern for the club. Yes it’s still early but this is a problem that has plagued the Lions for the better part of two seasons now. Where cover teams faltered Tim Brown and the return teams excelled. Brown was quick to acknowledge his blockers post game and his 296 combined kick/punt return yards easily made him the player of the game for the Lions.
Odds and ends
The purpose of my gig here is to relay the view of the game as a fan. That includes the fan experience, which I am happy to say was more comfortable with the roof open tonight.
Chris Palliser, on field announcer for the Lions teamed up with Crazy P to try and revive the historic BC chant. They almost got it going too. If they stick with it and maybe get the scoreboard involved, we should be hearing it more prominently in future games.
There were just 25,109 in attendance at the game. You have to think the first sunshine of summer had some people heading to the beach, camp grounds and patios. Still, I’m disappointed in the Vancouver sports fan. This is a really good football team who just won a championship for this city. Where is the support outside of the 25,000 diehards that are attending? Hamilton is traditionally a smaller draw, but let’s hope that when Edmonton comes to town this team gets a crowd it deserves.
BC Place; Can we please get some beverage service in the seats? Section 243 saw no water, pop, lemonade, or heaven forbid a beer vendor all game long. Thanks.
Tweets of the night
@winktweets: Hamilton, you might have more success if your coach didn’t spend the whole game sniffing a felt pen #tameTicats #Ticats
@RayRay2233 @You want a statement? Get the ball in @andrewharris33 hands #tameTicats #Lions
@RayRay2233 There’s NO such thing as an ugly win. It’s a W plain and simple, 2-0 @BCLions You win, you learn, you move on to Saskatchewan. #tameTicats