Alright. I’ve finally digested the CFL’s Eastern Semi final and well, you couldn’t ask for much more in regards to what happened at Tim Hortons Field last week. Blown leads, wacky plays due to weather, the defending champs moving on. If you had to rank 24-21 wins in CFL history, Edmonton’s over Hamilton would have to go in the #1 spot and there’s a few points on this game that I want to dive into…
There wasn’t a boring game between these two teams
First game of the year in Week 6 at Commonwealth saw Hamilton come back from being down 25 points at halftime to stage one of the largest comebacks in CFL history. I’ll admit when Edmonton was up 31-6 I was wondering if they’d drop 50 but Jeremiah Masoli and company wouldn’t have that as he also went on in that game to break the record for most completions in a row set by Eskimos head coach and former QB Jason Maas.
Fast forward to Week 19 and we almost have another Ti-Cats comeback win vs the Esks this time at home but would be thwarted late after Adarius Bowman would knock the onside kick late in the 4th quarter time out of bounds to seal the Edmonton win.
And of course the East semi provided more drama than five pounds of porcupines in a balloon factory with Hamilton’s potential game winning drive being thwarted.
To further show how wacky things were when these teams hooked up, they tied for total combined points (regular season and playoffs) 84-84.
For 2017, I propose that just for the heck of it these two teams have a seven game series to kick off the season.
You Had to pay attention to what was happening on special teams
With the wind at his back we saw Grant Shaw get off 80 yard bombs and Brett Maher field goals go hilariously wide. Onside punts recovered by the kicking team and misjudged attempts at running out kicks almost sealed this game for Hamilton. The weather wasn’t being kind to either side but special teams as a whole was so so vital to the outcome of this game. I didn’t for a second leave to use the washroom when either unit came out onto the field.
Mike Reilly will be fine
He left late in this one and had to be replaced for the remainder of the ball game by James Franklin after hurting his left arm. At the post game presser #13 said “he’s played through worse which may have been the understatement of the year as in his CFL career he’s battled through knee injuries and other calamities that come with being a professional quarterback.
The Eskimos did bring in free agent QB Thomas Demarco for insurance but odds are very low that they’ll need him.
Expect him to play vs Ottawa motivated to get the first win against the team of the Nation’s capital since the 103rd Grey Cup.
John White Is a man on a Mission
He missed the entire 2015 season with an torn Achilles tendon but boy has John White made up for lost time. In 15 games this year White was just 120 yards short of his first 1000 yard season in the CFL and had eight touchdowns on the ground for the Eskimos. On Sunday he had a game for the ages rushing for 160 yards and two touchdowns, it was something that brought high praise from head coach Jason Maas in a season year in which he also battled for the starting job at running back with Shakir Bell.
“From where he started our season to where he finished, he’s a completely different back. I’m proud of our football team but I couldn’t be more of proud of him. That injury he came back from, battled all through training camp trying to get the feeling back of being a good football player, he’s been tremendous for us”.
What If Zach Collaros had all of his weapons?
Without Andy Fantuz and Chad Owens names such as Spencer Watt and Brian Tyms had to step up for Hamilton and both did an incredible job but would the Tiger Cats season still be alive today if Collaros had those weapons vs Edmonton?
Both Owens and Fantuz had over 800 yards receiving and 50 receptions for Hamilton during the regular season with the latter leading the CFL in both categories so losing them to injury was a major dent in the Hamilton attack.
A question that I do also have is why wasn’t C.J. Gable used more in the Hamilton offense? In the second half he came live and was a major cog in the comeback.
After dropping their final game of the regular season to Montreal and then the Eastern semi final that certainly had to have been disheartening for a franchise that recorded it’s first sub .500 season since 2012.
With the Tiger Cats taking the season series over Ottawa two games to one, you wonder if they’d have been able to get past Henry Burris and company one more time to move onto BMO Field on November 27th.
As for the Eskimos, in just over 24 hours they have a chance at their first back to back trips to the Grey Cup since the 2002 and 2003 seasons in Ottawa.