CFL Pass

Tiger-Cats 25, Argonauts 22: Kicking Decides East Semi-Final

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats entered the playoffs winning two of their previous seven with the two wins coming against teams who weren’t in the playoffs. Of course, a huge factor in the Ticats’ struggles is the loss of superstar quarterback Zach Collaros, so not one writer went with Hamilton.

Ricky Ray vs. Jeremiah Masoli. On paper, it certainly seemed like the odds weren’t necessarily in Hamilton’s favour but as Han Solo once said…

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From the beginning of the game, it was clear that the Tiger-Cats were going to take it to Toronto on the ground to keep the pressure off of Masoli, who finished the day 58 yards on the ground while CJ Gable added another 89. The Argos had a decent running game going, too, as they took a 10-6 lead into halftime.

In the third quarter, it looked like the Argos were going to take control of the game and send Hamilton into next season. It was 18-6 before the Tiger-Cats turned it all around.

After Masoli spent a series on the sideline in favour of Jacory Harris, he returned to the game and connected with Bakari Grant on an easy 42-yard touchdown pass after the defensive back lost his footing. The TiCats defense did their job and before you could say “No Lead is Safe”, Hamilton had the lead again. [I *did* say – or tweet – “no lead is safe” and ate those words basically immediately thereafter… – Ed.]

Of course, the Argos had a shot at winning this game but the normally accurate Swayze Waters struggled with the wind and missed two key field goals. Those two field goals ultimately cost Toronto the win because the Hamilton defense was in Ricky Ray’s face all game long and, even though he didn’t score a touchdown, Brandon Banks was able to keep the field relatively short for Jeremiah Masoli.

Game-winning drives are infinitely easier to execute when the defense takes an unnecessary roughing the passer penalty just like Argos’ defensive lineman Martin Wright did. Collaros or not, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are off to Ottawa for the East Final.

Kent Austin hasn’t lost a CFL playoff game to a divisional opponent since his return to Canada in 2013. Like him or not, Austin is one of the premiere coaches in the league and a master motivator. He gets the absolute most out of his playoffs.

Hamilton will try to avoid their third straight loss to Ottawa in a soldout TD Place next Sunday. That makes it three games against each other over the past four weeks and with the team’s benches on the same sideline, we’re bound to see some fireworks…

– written by Travis Currah