Never count Henry Burris out, especially against a team he holds a grudge against. Burris, the CFL's reigning Most Outstanding Player, began this season as the Ottawa Redblacks' starting quarterback, then got injured, lost the job to Trevor Harris, briefly started when Harris got hurt, went back to the bench and then got the call to start again this week after a solid performance in relief in last week's overtime loss to Saskatchewan. Burris turned in a great showing Friday night, leading Ottawa to a narrow 30-29 road victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, a team that cut him two years ago and a team he's still upset at. It was an impressive outing from him, and one that has both him and his team in good shape going forward.
On the night, Burris accounted for all three of the Redblacks' touchdowns, throwing for one (a 65-yard catch and run by Ernest Jackson) and rushing for two more. He completed 27 of 39 passes (69.2 per cent) on the night, throwing for 393 yards and a touchdown without an interception and running eight times for 37 yards and two touchdowns. He could have set up another score, too, as Ottawa had first and goal inside the five in the final moments, but opted to take a knee and secure the victory instead of going for further points and a potential tiebreaker edge. It was a great night for Burris, and he told TSN's Matthew Scianitti afterwards that it was fueled by him not getting too down when he was benched for Harris.
"I could have been frustrated, but I took the time to focus on staying strong, getting my head right," Burris said, going on to talk about how he waited for his opportunity and then took advantage of it. That's a strong approach, and one that's better than some of the lashing out at critics we've previously seen from him. Burris has a strong history in this league and has done great things in four different cities, but he's also played very poorly at times and motivated teams to either get rid of him or bench him. Focusing on how he can improve and be ready when his next shot comes around seems like a better approach, and it's one that worked out Friday.
That approach has Burris set up to be Ottawa's quarterback heading into the playoffs, too, and it has the Redblacks in good shape. At 7-7-1, they're on top of the East, and that tie they picked up earlier this year makes it likely that any other team will have to finish with an extra win to get ahead of them. Meanwhile, Burris showed he still has some of the outstanding form he demonstrated last year, and suggested he's their top quarterback option for the time being. Of course, that could always change; if Burris stumbles again, Harris has played so well at times that it would seem likely he'd get another shot. Still, the Redblacks are leading their division, and Burris is their starter for now. For both of those sides, that seems pretty good.