The BC Lions needed to get a win in the CFL’s West Division after dropping their last two games to Saskatchewan and Edmonton respectively. After a shaky first half full of mistakes and penalties, the Lions got going in the second half to win convincingly. Here are my thoughts, from the couch.
TSN showed the pregame speech of coach Mike Benevides where he stated to his players, “It is time, its time, it is time. It is time that we play like the team that we know we are, it’s time that we play a complete game, it’s time that we win the field position battle, it’s time for us to score a ton of points…it’s time for us to show everybody who we are.”
The Lions offence must have thought he was talking about the second half, because the first was filled with penalties and stalled drives. The defence was doing their part, but for the most part the first half was a write-off for both teams offensively until the Lions connected on a late touchdown to Akeem Foster.
If the Lions were going to win this game they were going to have to shore up their special teams, especially with Larry Taylor returning kicks. They did just that, holding Taylor to 54 yards on 4 kick returns and to just 17 yards on 2 punts. Although I was a little irritated with the effort of Khreem Smith on the opening kick-off when he just stood there watching Tim Brown try to fend off three Stampeders before the whistle had blown.
Paul McCallum seems to have found his form again after kicking four field goals, the longest from 45 yards. Hopefully the next time he faces a 44 yarder at home, they’ll let him take a crack.
Some genius on Twitter tweeted this: “Lulay just looks nervous to me. Missing open guys, didn’t sense the pressure there, almost fumbled. #BCLions #CFL”.
Ok so it was me, and right after that Lulay got his game going. The fact is that for much of the first half, Lulay didn’t look sharp, but he stuck with it and slowly found his game. By the end of the game he looked like the MOP he was last year. He didn’t turn the ball over and managed the game down the stretch very well.
Lulay used spread the ball around nicely, particularly in the second half, with Bruce and Simon playing key roles, unlike last week. At the end of the night, 30-37 for 315 yards and 3 TD’s was a solid night’s work for the Lions pivot.
In Lowell’s chat on Friday on TheProvince.com, I brought up the play of Akeem Foster. Foster had a key touchdown at the end of the first half, and Glen Suitor indicated that Foster had been injured coming out of training camp. He had a strong game, leading all Lions receivers with 5 receptions for 72 yards. If Foster can find the form he showed last year before getting hurt, the Lions are going to have an impressive stable of Canadian receivers, which will allow them valuable flexibility with the ratio in other areas.
Despite the win, the Lions would be wise to put some more emphasis on playing with control. Khalif Mitchell, already under the watchful eye of all, took an unnecessary roughing penalty early in the game and Anthony Reddick was fortunate that a very late and uncalled for shot on Kevin Glenn was not flagged. Although most of their penalties were in the first half the Lions still need to clean up that part of their game.
The Lions secondary still don’t have an interception, but it was nice to see Byron Parker cause a key turnover on a play that could have swung the momentum Calgary’s way. Deep in Lions territory, Parker punched the ball out of Johnny Forzani’s hands and Ryan Phillips recovered the fumble. It turned out to be the turning point of the game, because the Lions marched the ball down the field for a score. The Lions defence failed to register a sack on the night.
Adam Bighill picked up his first career interception and just continues to impress with his closing speed and effort, leading the team with 6 tackles on the night.
The Lions completely shut down Jon Cornish who finished with -1 yards on the night. They held the Stamps to just 29 yards rushing.
@Nightowlsinc: Most importantly, we know now that the #BCLions can win if Coach Benevides doesn’t wear a hoodie.
One of the world’s great questions answered.
@Rikester13 “@rlestage: Looks like 2010 happy feet version of #Lulay is showing it’s face #BClions #CFL” 30-37 315 yds 3 td’s #toughcrowd @TravisLulay
Pretty sure that tweet was in the first half, Mike. Don’t worry, we still love ya!
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