How do you spell relief? For the BC Lions and their fan base, relief was spelled O-F-F-E-N-C-E Saturday at BC Place Stadium. Kevin Glenn had arguably his best game as a BC Lion and got support from his receivers as the Lions went on to thrash the Ottawa Redblacks 41-3. Here is how I saw the game, From the Stands.
Rising to the Challenge
When Glenn appeared to injure his throwing hand on the first play of the game, my first thought was, “Sure, why not?” The way Lions have been falling by the wayside of late it only seemed fitting that another player would be added to the pile. But thankfully Glenn not only returned, but went onto a 20-27, 345 yard, 3 touchdown performance.
Glenn wasn’t the only performance to be thankful for on Thanksgiving weekend. The Lions receiving corps needed to step up to help a struggling offence and they were led by the 195 yard effort of Ernest Jackson. Jackson was in the zone Saturday, with big plays and timely catches all night long. I’ve often wondered why the Lions haven’t attempted to use Jackson more, and after this performance he may have forced them to consider it, even when injured receivers return.
Jackson wasn’t alone as Lavasier Tuinei turned in a strong game and Shawn Gore made some key catches as well.
The running game also came to life with Keola Antolin looking much more comfortable in his second start and the offensive line opening the holes the diminutive running back needed. Antolin also gets high marks for the surfing routine he did to celebrate his first professional touchdown, a result of a 56 yard run on the same drive. Stefan Logan will likely return after the bye week, but the Lions now have some comfort without Andrew Harris in the running department.
Credit to the Coaches
No one escapes criticism when things aren’t going well and the Lions coaches have received their fair share over the last few weeks. But not only did Mike Benevides and his staff have to find ways to generate offence with so many starters injured, they had to keep the team united as one. They accomplished both. After the game Lions players spoke of the fact that no one believed in them, but as Gore said earlier in the week, that doubt and criticism was deserved from outsiders. So too is the praise they should receive for rallying as an organization, and hopefully this was the tonic the teams needs to play out the final three games of the season and enter the playoffs on a roll.
After a poor outing in Hamilton the Lions did a much better job on special teams. Tim Brown looked maybe a half step behind speed wise coming off his groin injury, but the coverage downfield was solid all night long and gave the Lions much better field position to work with defensively.
Better Call Sol
I spent a lot of time watching Solomon Elimimian Saturday, because not only is he my favourite player, I just wanted to watch and see what makes him so good. His pursuit of the ball on every play is relentless, he’ll go over, through or around any obstacle in his path to make a tackle. Elimimian has really settled into the CFL game and it shows. Solomon became the Lions record holder for tackles in a season, and the league record will be next to fall if Elimimian can stay healthy.
Props to Paul
Paul McCallum was also in the spotlight Saturday as he moved into second place on the all-time CFL scoring list. It’s unlikely that McCallum will catch Lui Passaglia to take over the number one spot, but it’s pretty cool that two BC Lions are one/two on the list.
Speaking of Passaglia, it was great to see him at BC Place on Saturday night as the club’s honorary captain. He’s been in Lions fans’ thoughts since his recent battle with cancer was made public, but Lui looked good and it was great to see the Lions bring him out to a standing ovation and chants of Luuuuu for the coin toss.
The Lions were finally able to take advantage of their position and move four points ahead of the Bombers. But the Riders are in a freefall as well and got spanked by the Alouettes, meaning that the Lions are now just two points out of third in the CFL West and they hold the tie breaker over the Riders.
The Lions should be getting some bodies back following the bye week, and now have some confidence in their pocket when they head into Winnipeg in two weeks. That game could be the defining moment of the season for BC, who close out the season versus Edmonton and Calgary.
Going through the West or the East doesn’t matter, because in the end the Lions will have to beat two good teams to get to the Grey Cup. However, travel wise the club would be better off to keep their playoff streak alive by qualifying in the West.
What are your thoughts? Your comments are always welcome. The Pawdcast will be taking a break this week along with the Lions, but we’ll be back with a show before the Lions take on the Bombers.