September 26, 2011
Welcome to Monday's Point After, your regular rundown of the week's CFL action. This time, the focus is on Toronto's crazy victory over Winnipeg. If you've got suggestions for something you'd like to see here, contact me by Twitter or e-mail.
Game of the Week: Toronto 25, Winnipeg 24: A CFL game ending on a rouge (or single point, gained by having a punt or a missed field goal go through the end zone) certainly isn't unprecedented. However, being unable to clear a missed field goal the way Winnipeg did is rather more unusual. It fit right in with this game, though; when Toronto Argonauts' head coach/general manager Jim Barker said "I don't think I've ever seen a crazier game," he was bang-on. Both starting quarterbacks (Winnipeg's Buck Pierce and Toronto's Steven Jyles (seen above running for a first-half touchdown), who, oddly enough, were the Bombers' #1 and #2 quarterbacks respectively last season) left with injuries, as did Winnipeg star running back Fred Reid (who may be gone for the year). Still, not being able to clear a missed field goal from the end zone is almost inconceivable (yes, I do think that word means what I think it means), but that's what happened Saturday. Winnipeg's Jovon Johnson was back to return, but couldn't get out of the end zone, and that gave Toronto the crucial point they needed to win.
This was a bizarre game in so many ways. The Bombers utilized three different quarterbacks, but only threw for 225 yards with two interceptions and one touchdown. Meanwhile, Jyles only completed 11 of 20 passes (55 per cent) for 88 yards and one touchdown with three interceptions, but his team won (thanks largely to the efforts of running back Cory Boyd, who picked up 109 yards on 12 carries, 9.1 per carry). Jyles' rushing efforts were obviously helpful, as he added 61 yards and a touchdown on eight carries (7.6 yards per carry). Still, this was largely a game of inept offences, so it's appropriate that it ended on a messed-up special teams play. Maybe the Argonauts learned from the 1991 team they honoured and embraced the unconventional. However they did it, they came out with their third win of the year, and it's tough to argue with that.
Montreal 34, Edmonton 21: Really, the key implications out of this one have nothing to do with the score, but rather how long Montreal quarterback Anthony Calvillo will be out for. Calvillo is arguably the CFL's top player at the moment, so his injury represents a huge loss for the Alouettes despite their victory. He showed off his skills Friday, completing 21 of 29 passes (72.4 per cent) for 270 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. Backup QB Adrian McPherson is capable, and he went six-for-six in relief, but Montreal isn't the same team without Calvillo. They need him back if they're going to get far this year.
For Edmonton, the big question is if their offensive line can regain good form. Montreal's Anwar Stewart and Ramon Guzman combined for three sacks of Eskimos' QB Ricky Ray Friday, and Ray was under pressure on many of the remaining snaps. That has a lot to do with his reasonably mediocre stat line (14 completions on 26 attempts for 213 yards, 53.8 per cent, with one TD and one interception). The Eskimos' ground game was okay, with Jerome Messam adding 58 yards on eight carries, but their pass-blocking has to improve if they're going to make a run.
Hamilton 55, Calgary 36: This was the highest-scoring CFL contest this year, so at least the fans at Touchdown Atlantic got an offensive show. They didn't get to see much defence, though, and that raises questions for both these teams. The Tiger-Cats have to be happy with the win and improving to 6-6, but they still gave up 36 points and allowed Calgary's offence too much freedom (particularly on the ground, where Jon Cornish picked up 84 yards on just nine carries). Meanwhile, the Stampeders' defence has been good for most of this year, but they just turned in one of the worst defensive showings we've seen this season. They'll have to get much better if the Stampeders want to get anywhere in the playoffs.
B.C. 42, Saskatchewan 5: The B.C. Lions and Saskatchewan Roughriders have drawn plenty of comparisons recently thanks to second-half turnarounds, but the Lions showed Saturday that the two teams aren't all that equal at the moment. B.C. ran ragged over Saskatchewan on the road, and the key figure in their dominance was quarterback Travis Lulay. Lulay completed 19 of 27 passes (70.3 per cent) for 303 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, turning in perhaps his best performance of the season in the process. Meanwhile, Saskatchewan's Darian Durant turned in an unimpressive 15-of-25 (60 per cent) performance, throwing for 188 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. B.C.'s very hot at the moment, having won their last five games, while Saskatchewan clearly still has a ways to go. The Lions are looking just fine and may even be the CFL's most impressive team right now. In Saskatchewan, though, there are real questions to be asked, and the turnaround under new head coach Ken Miller may not be as complete as many declared.