Crisis in Montreal, Hope in Winnipeg
Immediately after Toronto running back Cory Boyd cut through Winnipeg’s defence with seconds to go and picked up a game-ending first down, Montreal kicker Sean Whyte let the Twitterverse know what was important to the Alouettes: “Let’s get that bye. Next game is the biggest game of the season.” But it seems quarterback Drew Tate and receiver Johnny Forzani have established a lethal partnership right in time for the playoffs. Tate threw for 333 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, and Forzani was the target for both scores and 108 yards in Calgary’s 32-27 victory Sunday. Now, if Winnipeg wins next week, it will host the East final.
One step forward, two steps back
After Winnipeg sealed a late comeback win against Montreal and Hamilton trounced B.C. last week, it appeared both teams were primed for the playoffs. And then Tiger-Cats quarterback Kevin Glenn threw four interceptions, two in the end zone, in a 19-3 defeat to the Roughriders, and the Blue Bombers could not stop the Argos’ sporadic offence from scoring 24 points in the second quarter of a 27-22 win. “Sometimes,” Bombers defensive lineman Doug Brown said, “you’d rather be a C-plus student than to get an A one week and an F the next.” Going into the final week of the season, Hamilton will hope either Glenn or Quinton Porter shows some confidence and resurrects a sloppy passing game against Toronto, while Winnipeg head coach Paul LaPolice says he might have to start backup quarterback Alex Brink after Buck Pierce hurt his leg in the second quarter.
An inappropriate response?
It was a vicious, shocking hit. In the fourth quarter of Toronto’s 27-22 win over Winnipeg Friday, defensive back Johnny Sears launched himself headfirst like a lightning bolt directly into the helmet of Toronto quarterback Steven Jyles. Sears, who wears the number 0, was ejected straight away as Jyles staggered to his feet, and the CFL will doubtlessly address the hit this week. But the league will also be busy investigating allegedly threatening tweets made by some Argo players towards Sears. Although Jyles told reporters he was “OK,” offensive tackle Rob Murphy, who is recovering from a knee surgery, tweeted Friday: “#0 is lucky I’m not in the Province of Manitoba tonight … They would need the Jaws of Life to pry me off of him … I have a good memory … #CYaNextYear.” Winnipeg players defended Sears over twitter and head coach Paul LaPolice said he had spoken to the league. “Whoever’s doing that,” the coach said, “should be disciplined by the league, whether it’s our club or their club. That’s not what we’re about in the Canadian Football League. It’s not an eye for an eye.”
Lions regain their roar
Edmonton’s visit to B.C. was a possible preview to the West final, and the Lions used an explosive 14-point start to win 29-20. They could secure home-field advantage for that final with a win next week. After being assaulted by Hamilton’s defence last week, quarterback Travis Lulay was again launching the football on a string, hitting five receivers for more than 50 yards each. “We never really thought about the enormity of what we had to do to get us out of that hole,” Lulay said about the Lions, who are 9-1 in their last 10 games after a 1-6 start . “We really just buckled down and took it one game at a time. I know it sounds corny. One-and-six is a big hole. But the only way to not get overwhelmed with the situation was to take it week by week … We really felt like we were a better football team than that. Just the belief system we instilled in each other put us in position to do this.”
A kick to remember
Saskatchewan’s 19-3 win over Hamilton was a nice end to an ugly season at Mosaic Stadium. And what was most impressive about the victory was not the way the Roughriders’ lowly defence made Tiger-Cats quarterback Kevin Glenn look inept, it was a 108-yard punt launched by rookie kicker Chris Milo in the first quarter that tied a CFL record set by Toronto’s Zenon Andrusyshyn 1977. Milo, standing on Saskatchewan’s 11-yard line hammered the ball high, which was immediately taken by a gusting win blowing west to east inside. The trajectory startled Hamilton’s Marcus Thigpen and the returner tried to chase the ball but eventually let it roll out of the back of the end zone.