Buck Pierce shovels a TD pass to Andrew Harris. (Photo: PNG: Gerry Kahrmann)
The BC Lions fought off a shaky start and got a boost from Buck Pierce on the way to a 43-29 win over the Edmonton Eskimos Friday. There were several promising things for fans to take from the game, and here is how I saw things, From the Stands.
Slow starts still a concern
The Lions were flat to start the game and that won’t please Wally Buono whose comments earlier in the week put many in the organization on notice. The defence allowed a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage and the offence led by Thomas DeMarco had fans frustrated early on. It was a J.R. LaRose turnover that turned took the Lions out of neutral and it was Buck Pierce that put the pedal to the metal.
The turning point
The first career interception of JR LaRose came just when the Lions needed it. Not only did it change the momentum it fired up his teammates as well.
With DeMarco struggling to move the offence, Mike Benevides had seen enough to give Buck Pierce a shot and almost instantly the Lions offence started to move the ball. Pierce used his arm, and his legs to make things happen and wasn’t shy to throw a block downfield that allowed Stefan Logan to finish off a 54 yard scamper for six.
I talked last week about how the presence of Logan may motivate Andrew Harris and as Logan was having success so did Harris, who had two touchdowns on the night. It was Harris’ best game in a long time and it appears the Lions have found something with Logan getting first down snaps and Harris coming in on second down.
Both players were banged up in the game, Harris on his final play from scrimmage and fans will hope that both will be fine going forward.
With all the abuse the offensive line has taken, they need to be applauded for a solid performance both in pass protection and opening holes for the run.
Managing the QB’s
Mike Benevides had several fans and others scratching their heads last week when he left a struggling DeMarco in the game. His reasoning was that DeMarco needed to learn how to fight through tough games. Fair enough, but a legitimate question might be whether or not a home playoff game might have been in the Lions grasp had he brought Pierce in last week in Regina. Hindsight is indeed 20/20 but those that witnessed the performance of Pierce Friday should at least be able to put the rest of the “learning the offence” reasoning.
Pierce was masterful and the confidence of the offence grew under his leadership. He got up slowly from a couple of hits, and that anxiety for fans and the team is always going to be there when he’s in the game, but the Lions now know what they have with Pierce should they need him.
The question now becomes who starts against Calgary next week? The game has no implications on the playoffs, as we now know the Lions will play Saskatchewan in the West semis. After thinking about it, I think the clear choice is that Thomas DeMarco should start and Pierce should play a few series as well.
Benevides put DeMarco back in the game in the fourth quarter in a move aimed at giving him a chance to get some confidence back with the game wrapped up. His 46 yard connection with Manny Arceneaux probably accomplished some of that, but if they can restore more of it against the Stamps, it would give them better options heading into Regina.
At that point I would start Pierce, simply for the fact of what I saw Friday and that he has playoff experience on his resume and to use one of the biggest clichés in all of sports, there is no tomorrow.
Of course this gets cloudier if the Lions think Lulay can go, but Pierce showing what he is capable of was vital for himself, his coaches and his teammates.
Some coverage concerns
I mentioned the slow start and the defence getting burned for a long touchdown on the Eskimos first play from scrimmage. Adarius Bowman had a big game for the Eskies and at times was left wide open. With the Lions having offensive success, they can’t afford a drop off by the defence who for the most part has been solid all season.
Arceneaux finally returned to a prominent role which was perhaps aided by a veteran QB at the helm. Arceneaux has been pretty much invisible the last few weeks and it was great to see him return to have an impact. The Lions are going to need multiple receivers going in the playoffs, so it was another positive to take from the win.
What were your thoughts on the game? Who should be the Lions starter next week against the Stampeders? Are the Lions on their way to turning their running game around with the Logan and Harris combo? I’d love to read your comments below and as always, talk football with you on Twitter @BCLionsDen. We’ll also have more for you on our weekly podcast, watch for it Thursday night.