CFL Pass

Eskimos win OT thriller, keep pace with Stampeders

What. A. Game. Saturday’s battle between the BC Lions and the Edmonton Eskimos is exactly why this Rider fan has season tickets for a rival West Division Team. I’ll take a football game like that any day of the week!

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The personal highlight for me was having the chance to meet Commonwealth Stadium’s “Lord of Touchdown” at halftime. He didn’t want to take a picture with me because of my “wrong” shade of green but ever the professional, the Lord granted me that glorious selfie.

Then things got interesting, real interesting.

Since Jonathon Jennings became the starting quarterback for the BC Lions, he has been a breath of fresh air for the Lions offense. Despite a non-existent running game (Andrew Harris had two yards on six carries), Jennings was able to keep the Lions in the game with a little help from the defensive and special teams units who provided three interceptions and over two hundred return yards respectively. The chemistry he has with The Manny Show continued Saturday, too, as Manny scored his fifth touchdown in four games.

Most expected this game to be a blowout but the combination of Jennings’s awesome play and Mike Reilly’s mediocre play (including three interceptions) kept things close.

It almost looked like BC had things in the bag until a Lions fumble on the Edmonton goal line early in the fourth quarter gave the Eskimos some momentum. Reilly earned his paycheque in the last two minutes when he drove the Green & Gold down the field to tie the game forcing overtime.

And CFL overtime is just awesome – definitely something memorable. I’ve been at some other pretty awesome OT games, too:

•  2000 – Riders beat Eskimos in Edmonton by a score of 54-52

•  2007 – Riders beat Eskimos in Edmonton by a score of 36-29

•  2010 – Riders beat Montreal in Regina by a score of 54-51

I definitely like seeing the Saskatchewan Roughriders win some close games. This game had the Commonwealth faithful on their feet getting *loud* for their defense in overtime – without a doubt the loudest they’ve been all season long. The place absolutely erupted when Dexter McCoil intercepted Jennings in overtime, setting up Sean Whyte to give Edmonton the 26-23 win.

What confused me was the amount of people heading to the exits before Edmonton’s game-tying drive at the end of the fourth quarter. I get that it’s October and it might be just a little chilly, but I can’t imagine being in the car hearing your team stormed back to win in overtime. It’s the CFL! No Lead is Safe, right? But I digress...

Edmonton very well could have run away with this game but penalties, turnovers and poor special teams coverage kept them from running away with the game. Shakir Bell (91 yards on the ground) and Adarius Bowman (208 yards from scrimmage) were the clear stars on offense for Edmonton who now are riding a six-game winning streak at the top of the CFL’s West Division – what must be the ugliest six-game winning streak I’ve ever seen, though. Edmonton was somehow able to beat Hamilton with only 49 passing yards, they were able to beat Winnipeg because of Hajrallahu’s four missed field goals, and they beat Calgary 15-11. It’s ugly but it counts.

With three weeks left in the regular season, the Road to the Grey Cup is becoming a little clearer. Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton have all clinched with one more spot up for the grabs: Third place in the West. BC, Winnipeg, and Montreal will duke it out to see who gets the daunting task of facing one of the Alberta powerhouses in the West Semi-Final.

– written by Travis Currah