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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

GREY CUP WEEK UNDERWAY


VANCOUVER - The Grey Cup festivities have officially kicked off with the annual coaches news conference.

Kent Austin of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and John Hufnagel of the Calgary Stampeders will share the sidelines Sunday at B.C. Place Stadium.

The two men have a history, as Austin began his CFL career with Saskatchewan in 1987 when Hufnagel was a player-coach with the team.

Hufnagel chases a second Grey Cup with Calgary, winning in 2008.

Austin won his first Grey Cup as a head coach in '07 with Saskatchewan but his Ticats lost last year's game against the Riders in Regina.

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VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Canadian Football League (CFL) announced today the officiating crew that will work the 102nd Grey Cup to be played in Vancouver on Sunday, November 30th at BC Place Stadium. This group of officials were the highest rated officials at their respective positions during the 2014 season.

2014 Grey Cup Officials:
Referee #28 Andre Proulx
Umpire #31 Ben Major
Head Linesman #67 Justin McInnes
Line Judge #74 Tim Kroeker
Side Judge #21 Don Carmichael
Back Judge #42 Carey Anderson
Field Judge #51 Bryan Taylor

Backup Referee #48 Kim Murphy
Backup Official #34 Ritchie Miller
Backup Official #57 Marty Carreau

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VANCOUVER - Grey Cup organizers say about 4,300 tickets remain unsold for Sunday's game between the Calgary Stampeders and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Jamie Pitblado, 102nd Grey Cup Festival general manager, said Wednesday there was a spike in sales after the two clubs advanced with playoff victories on Sunday, but added there are still plenty of seats available.

"We're definitely headed in the right direction,'' he said. "(We) will keep focused and keep working with the teams and their fans to make sure we can accommodate whatever requests and needs are coming in.''

The last three Grey Cup games have featured the host team, but the B.C. Lions were eliminated in the first round of the 2014 post-season, while the Saskatchewan Roughriders and their rabid fanbase were also knocked out at the same stage.

That has made the job of selling the game at the 54,500-seat B.C. Place Stadium more difficult, along with the fact that Vancouver also hosted the Grey Cup just three years ago.

"I think the excitement's building,'' said Pitblado. "I think it's building for more than just the game, but the festival as well - the whole experience.''

(The Canadian Press)

102nd GREY CUP PRIMER

To capture their first Grey Cup title since 1999, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will have to corral Calgary Stampeders running back Jon Cornish.

Calgary and Hamilton will square off in the CFL title game Sunday at B.C. Place. It will be the Ticats' second straight championship appearance after losing last year to Saskatchewan, while the Stampeders return for the first time since dropping the 100th Grey Cup game to Toronto at Rogers Centre in 2012.  Here are some notes:

1 - DIVISION LEADERS: The two teams finished atop their respective divisions. Calgary posted a league-best 15-3 record, while Hamilton had a 9-9 record to finish tied with Montreal but secured first based upon head-to-head point differential.

2 - CHILDREN OF THE CORN: Cornish was the CFL's top rusher this season with 1,082 yards despite playing just nine regular-season games. The 30-year-old native of New Westminster, B.C., won a third straight rushing title and anchored a Calgary ground game that was the league's best, averaging over 140 yards per contest.

3 - STEEL CURTAIN: Cornish and Co. will face a Hamilton defence that allowed a league-low 76.8 yards rushing during the regular season. Calgary won the season series 2-0 by a combined 13 points without Cornish, who missed both contests due to injury.

4 - SEASON SERIES SWEEP:  On Aug. 16, Hugh Charles ran for 102 yards on 14 carries in Calgary's 30-20 victory over Hamilton at McMaster University. A month earlier, the Stampeders edged the Ticats 10-7 as Justin Medlock had a chance to tie the game with a 29-yard field goal but Luke Tasker had trouble with the snap, preventing Medlock from getting the boot off.

5 - MORE ON CORNISH: The challenge facing Hamilton, though, is that Cornish is much more than just a premier running back. Edmonton held Cornish to 54 yards rushing on 14 carries Sunday in the West Division final but Cornish burned the Eskimos for 120 yards receiving and a TD on four catches in the Stampeders' convincing 43-18 win.

6 - OFFENSIVE JUGGERNAUT:  But the Stampeders do more than just run the ball well. They led the CFL in scoring (28.4 points per game) and were second in total offensive yards (363.2 per game).

7 - KEEPAWAY:  More importantly, the Stampeders rarely beat themselves. They committed a league-low 29 turnovers while forcing 43 for a CFL-leading plus-14 differential and were the league's least penalized squad.

8 - RED CURTAIN:  Calgary's defence is often overshadowed by its high-powered offence but this unit is very good. The Stampeders were second in fewest points allowed (19.3 per game) while Jamar Wall finished tied for the league lead in interceptions (six) and veteran Keon Raymond had five.

9 - SACK ATTACK:  Despite missing top pass rusher Charleston Hughes for much of the season, Calgary was tied for fourth with 50 sacks as Shawn Lemon had 13 to stand tied for second overall.

10 - BO KNOWS:  Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell was solid in his first season as the starter, completing over 63 per cent of his passes for 3,389 yards with 22 TDs and just eight interceptions. And on Sunday, Mitchell threw four touchdown passes against Edmonton.  Mitchell started both Calgary wins over Hamilton, completing 39-of-62 passes for 472 yards with a TD and interception.

11 - BREAUX KNOWS:  But Hamilton's defence will offer matchup challenges as cornerback Delvin Breaux has the ability to play man-up on an offence's top receiver. That gives the secondary the ability to potentially double-up on the No. 2 receiving threat.

On Sunday, Breaux held Duron Carter, Montreal's top receiver this season, to just three catches for 25 yards. So the Ticats were able to secure a 40-24 victory in the East final despite S.J. Green registering six catches for a game-high 128 yards and three TDs for the Alouettes.

12 - ZACH ATTACK:  The Stampeders' defence will get its first live look at Hamilton starter Zach Collaros on Sunday. Collaros missed both regular-season meetings recovering from concussion-like symptoms.

Like Mitchell, Collaros is in his first season as a CFL starter and Hamilton is a different team with him. The Ticats were 8-5 with Collaros in the lineup, and just 1-4 without him.

Not only is Collaros an accurate passer (65.8 per cent completion average with 15 TDs and nine interceptions) but his mobility allows him to escape the rush or head upfield. There's no doubt who makes the Hamilton offence go.

13 - SLICK NIC:  Hamilton also sports a bona fide rushing threat in Nic Grigsby. The former Winnipeg Blue Bomber ran for 93 yards and two TDs on 18 carries Sunday and in the Ticats' two wins over Montreal (including 29-15 home victory Nov. 8) Grigsby had 186 yards rushing and three TDs on 37 carries.

14 - SPEEDY BANKS: Calgary must also be very weary of Hamilton kick-returner Brandon Banks. The five-foot-seven, 153-pound Banks was a one-man show Sunday, returning two punts for TDs and having a third called back due to a penalty.

Banks had five returns for playoff-record 226 yards and the two touchdowns tied a playoff mark. Against Calgary this year, Banks had 10 punt returns for 116 yards and no TDs.

15 - BROADCAST:  Kickoff in Sunday's 102nd Grey Cup is scheduled for 5:30 pm Sask time and will be carried on TSN and 620 CKRM Radio in Regina.

(Canadian Press)

THE WEDNESDAY THRILLER ... WITH PHIL ANDREWS

Voice of the Pats Phil Andrews
The Regina Pats continue their West Coast road trip Wednesday night in Prince George against the Cougars.

The Pats are 1-1 so far on the trip having won in Vancouver (6-2 Friday) and lost in Victoria (5-0 Saturday). Was pretty cool to see Jordan Hollett, the team's 13th overall pick in the 2014 draft, make his first WHL start. (picture below).

He might like to have one goal back but overall he battled hard and looked pretty darn good for a 15 year old. He is back with his midget club now at the OHA.


 Sam Steel taking a shot on Hollett in the pre-game in Victoria.



Here's a look from the broadcast booth at the Pacific Colleseum in Vancouver, the Pats won 6-2 that night.


And from the Save On Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria, a 5-0 loss.

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SLAPSHOTS

- On Thursday in Vancouver, some of the staff took in the Canucks and Ducks at the Rogers arena. A good game to go to, the return of Ryan Kesler who got booed pretty bad by the Canucks fans and got to see Bo Horvat's first ever NHL goal. I came away thinking the Canucks are a pretty darn good team, better than the last two years no doubt. Radim Vrbata looks good playing with the Sedins.

- Now on the the Cougars tonight. Prince George leads the WHL in penalty minutes, while the Pats lead the Eastern Conference. Should be a tough, physical affair tonight. The Cougars are 13-13-0-0 on the year, the only team yet to go past regulation this season. They have some top end talent in Jensen Harkins who sits tied for 14th in league scoring and are a dangerous team.

- The Pats will be tested tonight and you have to think it's a must win game before closing out the trip against Kamloops and Kelowna. The team will play against their former teammate Logan McVeigh in Kamloops Friday, he has 3 goals and 6 assists in 15 games with the Blazers and in talking with him on Tuesday, he is enjoying playing for Don Hay in his final year in the WHL. The Blazers head to Everett today for a day trip against the Silvertips, a 7 hour drive. One thing is for sure, the travel in the East Division is a heck of a lot easier than here out West.

- The Prince Albert Raiders new mascot is no more. The team unveiled the mascot and immediately were met with criticism for resembling a Middle Eastern caricature. It was a throwback to on old Raiders logo. The team did not mean any offense by it and I totally believe that. But in todays day and age you just can't get away with anything like that.

- I know everyone says this but how bad are the Edmonton Oilers... They have lost 7 in a row and are losing in convincing fashion. We were on the air in Victoria Saturday and I glanced up at the TV to see the Blackhawks were up 6-0 late in the 2nd. I don't know what or how but something has to give. The organization needs to make some kind of major change.

- Rest in peace Pat Quinn, as a Leaf fan he is one of my all time favorites as coach and GM from when I was a younger man. He was one of the best. Thought's and prayers with his family and friends. The hockey world lost a good one.

- On to the CFL playoffs, is it just me or has the post season just epitomized the entire year? Sat down and watched the West and East Finals on the weekend and while the Alouettes were in it for a while in Hamilton they got blown out and then Calgary absolutely dominated Edmonton in the West. Where has the exciting, down to the wire games gone? I thought the Eskimo defense was going to put up another great showing and book a ticket into the Grey Cup but they played the opposite of the West Semi-Final game against the Riders. Or maybe was the Rider offense just that bad? I don't know. Here's hoping the Grey Cup offers some type of entertaining football.

- In the NFL, Robert Griffin's comeback has been less than pleasurable for Washington Redskins fans. The skins are reportedly starting Colt McCoy at QB come Sunday. My how Griffin has fallen from his all-star rookie season.

- So I'm growing a mustache for Movember as a part of the Regina Pats Movember team. Have a look at our page! http://ca.movember.com/mospace/team/

- Be sure to check out tonight's episode of Pats TV on Access 7. We have a special feature done by Daniel Fink recapping the players who took part in the Project First Goal in East Hastings Vancouver. I also caught up with Austin Wagner and James Hilsendager. 6:30 it starts.

- That's it for me today, talk to you from the rink tonight with our pre-game at 8:35 from Prince George.

Phil 
@PhilTheThrill18 

WEDNESDAY EYE-OPENER

Corey Perry scored for the first time since being diagnosed with the mumps as the Anaheim edged Calgary 3-2. Matt Beleskey and Kyle Palmieri helped the Ducks get a big lead and they held on for their 19th-straight home victory against the Flames. T-J Brodie and Jiri Hudler scored for Calgary.

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Cory Schneider is still winless against his former team. His goaltending counterpart Ryan Miller made 20 saves for his second shutout of the season as Vancouver beat New Jersey 2-0. Schneider made 34 saves in the loss. Alex Burrows and Shawn Matthias scored for the Canucks, who are now second in the Western Conference.

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Bobby Ryan scored the only goal in the shootout as Ottawa rallied to beat St. Louis 3-2. The Blues lost goalie Brian Elliott to a lower-body injury late in the second period. The win snapped the Sens two-game losing streak. Elsewhere in the NHL, Dallas beat Edmonton 3-2, Winnipeg doubled-up Columbus 4-2 and Gabriel Landeskog scored twice and Daniel Briere provided the game-winner in overtime as Colorado rallied to beat Arizona 4-3. Calvin Pickard stopped all 25 shots he faced in relief of Reto Berra, who allowed the Coyotes to take a 3-0 lead after just 11 minutes.

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Another death in the hockey community tonight. Five-time All-Star Murray Oliver has died from a heart attack at the age of 77. He began his NHL career in 1957 and played for Minnesota, Detroit, Boston and Toronto. The Hamilton native lived in a Minneapolis suburb and died on Sunday.

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In the N-B-A, Stephen Curry had 40 points and Klay Thompson added 24 in Golden State's 114-97 win over Miami. The Warriors are third-best in the league at 11-and-3. Golden State has won six in a row.

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A big effort from the Atlanta Hawks bench led them to a 106-102 win over Washington. Mike Scott and Shelvin Mack came off the bench to score the Hawks first 16 points of the fourth quarter. That sparked a 22-5 run that built a 14-point lead. Jeff Teague had a game-high 28 points for Atlanta, who host the Toronto Raptors tonight.

(Canadian Press)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

5 GREY CUP STORYLINES

The Calgary Stampeders and Hamilton Tiger-Cats meet in the Grey Cup Sunday at B.C. Place. Here are five storylines to watch heading into the big game:

Grey Cup Drought - Both teams will be looking to end Grey Cup dry spells. The Stampeders last won a championship in 2008, head coach/GM John Hufnagel's first with the club. The Ticats have to go all the way back to '99 for their last CFL title, which coincidentally came against Calgary at Vancouver. Both teams also lost in their last Grey Cup appearance, with Calgary falling to Toronto in the 100th Grey Cup at Rogers Centre in 2012 and Hamilton dropping last year's contest to Saskatchewan at Mosaic Stadium.

Swan Song? - A perennial all-star over his 11-year career in Calgary, Lewis had just 37 catches for 377 yards and no TDs this season. There were times the 32-year-old was a healthy scratch. After eight straight 1,000-yard seasons, Lewis has combined for 69 catches for 777 yards and three TDs the last two years, but to be fair his 2013 season was marred by fractured fibula that limited him to just seven games. There will be persistent talk this week about whether the Grey Cup game will be Lewis's final one in a Calgary uniform.

Grey Cup Rookies - Both Calgary's Bo Levi Mitchell and Hamilton's Zach Collaros are in the Grey Cup as first-year starters. Mitchell led the Stampeders to a pair of regular-season wins over the Ticats but Collaros didn't play in either game due to concussion symptoms. Hamilton's offence is more potent with the versatile Collaros, who is an accurate passer but also mobile enough to escape pressure and buy himself time to pass or head upfield. Mitchell helped lead Calgary to a league-best 15-3 record and his eight interceptions were the fewest among CFL starters.

Kent Austin Show - Not only does Austin have the Ticats in the Grey Cup for a second straight year, he's in the CFL title game for the third time as a head coach. Austin led Saskatchewan to the '07 championship in his first season as a CFL head coach before heading to the NCAA. He returned to the CFL last season with Hamilton but his '13 campaign ended with a 45-23 Grey Cup loss to the Riders at Mosaic Stadium.

Will They Come? - For the first time in four years, the Grey Cup host city won't have its team in the big game. It remains to be seen how excited Vancouver will be this week without the B.C. Lions to cheer for. Less than a week before the opening kickoff, the game still wasn't officially sold out.

(Canadian Press)

TRIBE TO RETIRE SMYTH'S NUMBER

The Moose Jaw Warriors are excited to announce that on Friday, February 6 they will retire Ryan Smyth's number 28, making his the fourth jersey retired in franchise history.
 
"On behalf of the Moose Jaw Warriors Board of Directors, Management, Coaches, Players, Staff, and our fans, we would like to congratulate Ryan Smyth on the retiring of his Warriors number," comments Moose Jaw Warriors Governor and President Chad Taylor.  "Ryan played the game with heart, determination, and character, all of which are what we feel best describes what it takes to be a Moose Jaw Warrior.  February 6th will be a memorable and special night Ryan Smyth and his family, the Moose Jaw Warriors, and the fans." 
 
"I'm extremely honoured and ecstatic about this, it's where my roots started," said Ryan Smyth.  "Junior hockey is a huge stepping stone to the pros and Moose Jaw was a huge part for me.  Thank you."

STAMPS OUT TO FINISH THE JOB


CALGARY - The Calgary Stampeders have had one goal in mind since losing at home to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the 2013 West Division final.

From the outset of training camp, the Stamps set their sights on winning the Grey Cup. They'll now get that chance when they take on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the CFL title game Sunday at B.C. Place in Vancouver (5:30 pm, TSN, 620 CKRM).

"When that game ended, it was a very serious mindset with our guys,'' said Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell in regards to the 35-13 loss to the Riders on Nov. 17, 2013. "It's tough when you know you have the talent, you know you have the best team in the league and you don't finish it.''

Following that disappointing setback, the Stamps vowed to do everything they could to put themselves in a position to win their seventh CFL title and first since 2008.

"Honestly, we've had the recipe,'' said linebacker Keon Raymond. "It's just mixing the ingredients together to be able to get us to the point to where we want to be right now. Our goal from Day 1 in training camp was to make sure that we bring the Cup back to Calgary.''

The Stamps are now just one win away from accomplishing their mission thanks to a 43-18 win over the Edmonton Eskimos at McMahon Stadium on Sunday in the West Division final.

"Obviously we want to be happy about it, but it's hard to be that happy when you know you've got a lot of work ahead of you to win the big one,'' said Mitchell, who threw four touchdown passes and scored on a two-yard plunge across the goal-line in his first-ever playoff start against the Eskimos.

Veteran Calgary linebacker Juwan Simpson said the Stampeders are focused on finishing the job that they started.

"We just cleared another hurdle that we wanted to clear,'' Simpson said. "Ultimately all of this means nothing if we don't win the Cup.''

The Stamps finished the season with a league-best 15-3 record and earned a bye straight to the West final, while the Ticats finished atop the East Division with a 9-9 record before downing the Montreal Alouettes 40-24 at home on Sunday to earn a berth in their second straight Grey Cup game.

Despite playing in only half of Calgary's regular-season games, Jon Cornish ran for 1,082 yards to win his third straight rushing title. While the Eskimos held him to 54 yards rushing on 14 carries, Cornish had 120 receiving yards on four catches including a highlight-reel play where he caught a shovel pass from Mitchell and ran the rest of the way for a 78-yard score.

"Absolutely, if we lose this Grey Cup, that wouldn't be very fun,'' said Cornish, who didn't play in either of Calgary's two wins against Hamilton in the regular season. "I don't think that anybody has that ambition. Everybody that's going to be on this plane (on Tuesday) is going to be going there for one reason.''

(Canadian Press)

PATCHAT

The Week That Was
It was a transition week for the Pats that saw the team close out a stretch of home games and head out on the road to face western competition.

Tuesday night had the Pats up against the defending Memorial Cup Champion Edmonton Oil Kings.  Edmonton built up three one goal leads, but the Blue and White had an answer each time as they battled to a 5-4 overtime win.

After the contest, the Pats jumped on the bus to roll west to British Columbia.  The road trip started in Vancouver where after falling behind 2-0, the Pats rolled back with six unanswered goals in a 6-2 win.  The following day, the Queen City Kids hopped on the ferry to take on another ‘royal’ franchise in Victoria.  15-year old goaltending prospect Jordan Hollett made his WHL debut, but the Pats couldn’t find the back of the net as they dropped a 5-0 decision.

The Week Ahead
Wednesday, November 26th – Pats at Prince George (9:00 p.m. CST)
It’s a meeting between the two teams featuring new ownership groups as the Blue and White head North to take on the Prince George Cougars.  Last time the two teams met, the Pats put together a dominating performance with an 8-0 win.  Tune in to this week’s games on 620 CKRM or WHL Live Web TV.

Friday, November 28th – Pats at Kamloops (9:00 p.m. CST)
After a day off, the Pats start the home stretch of their five game road trip.  First up, Regina heads to Kamloops to face former Pats forward Logan McVeigh and the Blazers.  In their lone meeting of the season last year, the Blazers took a 4-3 shootout victory at the Brandt Centre.

Saturday, November 29th – Pats at Kelowna (9:05 p.m. CST)
A long trip comes to a close as the Pats take on the top team in the nation in the Kelowna Rockets.  The Rockets start the week with a 22-2-3-0 record, tops in the WHL.  Last year, the Pats took Kelowna all the way to overtime before giving way to the eventual regular season champs, 5-4 in overtime.

First Game in the Books
The Pats’ 13th Overall pick in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft, Jordan Hollett, made his WHL debut Saturday night between the pipes for Regina.  The 15 year old stopped the first nine shots he faced before allowing Travis Brown’s powerplay marker.  Hollett turned aside 21 shots in the 5-0 loss.

Project First Goal
While the Pats had a day off in Victoria, four players headed back to Vancouver to take part in Project First Goal.  The players spent time with RCMP and Vancouver Police Officers before heading to East Hastings to speak with residents and addicts who live there.  The players will bring the messages of the people they met back to Regina area schools to speak with students about drugs and addiction.

Teddy Bear Toss presented by Southland Mall
The Pats next home game is just over a week away as the Blue and White take on the Brandon Wheat Kings for the first time since opening weekend.  Fans are encouraged to bring new stuffed toys to the game to throw on the ice when the Pats score their first goal of the game.  Overage forward Pavel Padakin comes into the game having scored the “Teddy Bear Goal” the last two years for the Calgary Hitmen.

Black Friday Special
The Regina Pats are pleased to offer a 24-hour sale on Individual Tickets, this Friday (November 28) in celebration of Black Friday.  Stay tuned for more information later this week via Social Media.

Give the Gift of Hockey
The Pats are pleased to present a Voucher Pack Bonus Offer for all purchases now until December 31st.  When you purchase any 8-Ticket Voucher Pack (Adult, Senior or Youth/Special Needs apply), receive two (2) bonus vouchers to make it a TEN PACK!  To purchase, visit the Regina Pats Office in the West End of the Brandt Centre, or call the office at 306-522-PATS (7287).

Important Dates
Wednesday, December 3rd  – Next Home Game - Teddy Bear Toss vs. Brandon – 7 p.m.

(Courtesy Daniel Fink)

TUESDAY EYE-OPENER

The Toronto Raptors just keep rolling. Jonas Valanciunas scored a career-high 27 points and had 11 rebounds in Toronto's 104-100 victory over the Phoenix Suns. DeMar DeRozan added 23 points for the Raptors, who have won five straight. Toronto is tied with Memphis for the best record in the N-B-A at 12-2.

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The world of hockey is mourning the loss of Pat Quinn. The former NHL player, coach and executive died at the age of 71. Quinn played parts of nine seasons in the NHL and went on to enjoy a long coaching career. His greatest achievement may have been guiding Canada to gold at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.

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Erik Karlsson and Chris Neil scored in the third period for Ottawa, but the Senators could not catch the Detroit Red Wings in a 4-3 loss. Stephen Weiss led the Red Wings with a pair of goals. Ottawa continues its road trip tomorrow in St. Louis.

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There were three other games around the NHL. Frans Nielsen and John Tavares finally solved Philadelphia's Steve Mason in a shootout, and the New York Islanders outlasted the Flyers 1-0. Also, the Pittsburgh Penguins edged the Boston Bruins 3-2 in overtime. And the Minnesota Wild downed the Florida Panthers 4-1.

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There were a pair of blowouts in Monday Night Football. Justin Forsett rushed for 182 yards and two touchdowns as the Baltimore Ravens routed the New Orleans Saints 34-27. Earlier, Kyle Orton threw two touchdown passes as the Buffalo Bills shook off a trying week and crushed the New York Jets 38-3. The Bills were the home team even though the game was held in Detroit. Buffalo's home stadium was inaccessible after a freak snowstorm rocked western New York.

(Canadian Press)

Monday, November 24, 2014

WHL MOURNS THE PASSING OF PAT QUINN

The Western Hockey League is deeply saddened by the passing of Vancouver Giants’ co-owner and Hockey Hall of Fame Chairman Pat Quinn.

Quinn passed away on Sunday, November 23rd, in Vancouver, B.C., after battling a lengthy illness.  He was 71.

“Pat Quinn was not only one of the most prominent hockey leaders in this country but also a great person who was highly respected by everyone associated with the game,” stated WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “As a co-owner of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, Pat genuinely cared about the game at all levels and was regarded as one of the most astute hockey minds the game has ever seen. On behalf of all of us at the WHL, we extend our deepest sympathy to Pat’s family during this very difficult time.”

A product of Hamilton, Ontario, Quinn played over 600 games in the National Hockey League over a nine-season span, and went on to a lengthy coaching and management career in the NHL and represented Canada on many occasions at the international level.

Quinn’s many accomplishments included capturing a Memorial Cup with the Edmonton Oil Kings in 1963, while as a Head Coach leading Canada to an Olympic gold medal in 2002 and a World Cup of Hockey championship in 2004, as well as World Junior Championship gold medal in 2009.

“Words cannot express the pain we all feel today for the Quinn family,” said Vancouver Giants majority owner Ron Toigo. “Pat was an inspiration to all of us. He always said that respect was something that should be earned, not given, and the respect that he garnered throughout the hockey world speaks for itself. He will be sorely missed.”

DAYTONA HOMES MONDAY MORNING GOALIE

MONDAY NOTEBOOK

1 - GREY CUP 2014:  So the combatants are set for the 102nd Grey Cup in Vancouver: the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Calgary Stampeders.  The pair emerged in some entertaining Division Finals on Sunday.  Not surprisingly the odds have not yet been set for the game and they may be difficult to determine.  Generally the home team gets four points automatically but it's not a home game.  Calgary will come out as the favourite I'm sure.

As for the forecast, rain is predicted all week for Vancouver with the sun only poking out around Wednesday.  The temperature will hover around +9 or +10 degrees.  It will be easier to deal with than minus-40 last year in Regina but the rain does threaten to dampen spirits.  However not much dampens spirits at Grey Cup time.

Us CFL types will be descending on Vancouver in the days ahead and 620 CKRM gets there Wednesday afternoon.  We'll be broadcasting the SportsCage from the Vancouver Convention Centre's Radio Row on Thursday and Friday.


2 - TICATS NATION?:  It seems Saskatchewan has adopted Hamilton as its Grey Cup favourite this week.  Correct me if I'm wrong but that's the general feeling I got while watching social media on Sunday. A lot of it stems from Saskatchewan's distaste for the Calgary Stampeders but a lot of of Rider fans see themselves in Ticats fans too.  They're a rabid bunch unlike those Red & White supporters in McMahon Stadium on Sunday whom we didn't really see all year.

Someone said, "I'm pulling for Hamilton but not Kent," on Sunday and although that's disappointing, it's also understandable.  Kent Austin's responsible for two of the Roughriders' four Grey Cups but he left twice.  I get it.  I'll never dump on Austin because he's been great to me - even writing the forward for my best-selling book - but if people here can't let the other stuff go, that's their business.

As far as Hamilton winning the Grey Cup in 2014, CKRM analyst Carm Carteri said on Sunday, "It would be great for the league!"

3 - THE MATCH-UP:  Calgary and Hamilton last met in the Grey Cup in Vancouver in 1999 with the Ticats winning 33-21.  The year before in Winnipeg, the Stampeders beat the Tiger-Cats 26-24 in the 86th Grey Cup.

So this is the rubber match, if you will.  And it's a salacious match-up indeed.  It pits the cocky, brash, older Stampeders against the youngest team in the CFL, the determined and seemingly humble Tiger-Cats.  The Stamps were passing around the West Division championship trophy on Sunday like it actually means something, groping and kissing it like they were at a high school dance.  The Ticats, on the other hand, wouldn't touch the East Division championship trophy.  They also wouldn't engage in Montreal's trash-talking the week before the EDF, saying instead "We don't have time for trash-talking. We're preparing for Sunday's game".  Then they whipped the Als' butts when it counted.

So you read it here first -- and this will be my prediction for the week -- the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will win the 2014 Grey Cup.  I'm never one on posting points but I'll say between 7-10 in this one.

Why?  The Ticats have had the fire burning in their bellies for just over a year now and if you subscribe to the theory "The team that wants it more will win", then it'll be the Tabbies.

Make no mistake, Calgary looked fantastic in their romp over Edmonton on Sunday.  But the core of that group is old (Cornish, Lewis, Hughes, Simpson, etc.).  They know the window is closing on the chance to cap their careers with a title, but they're too brazen to show some humility.  As always, that's what will catch them in the end.

4 - THE RIDERS:  Of course it sucks the Roughriders won't be in the Grey Cup.  No amount of sugar-coating the situation will placate the readers and it would all be hogwash anyway.  However we're going to have to forget about the Green & White for a week and focus on this national celebration of the CFL.

Honestly I was watching the Western Final thinking that the Riders would've been smoked by the Stampeders had they advanced to the Final Four.  That's in their current state of course, without Darian Durant.  Honestly I'd rather have not gone to Calgary at all than go there and get humiliated.


If you were watching the pregame show, TSN's Chris Schultz said Calgary and Edmonton are only going to get better so Saskatchewan, B.C. and Winnipeg had better "get your act together" if they plan to compete in the West.

I had similar thoughts about Calgary and Edmonton but am not prepared to lump the Riders in with the Lions and Blue Bombers either.  The Rider brass knows they have their work cut out for them to get back to the Grey Cup so rest assured they are on it.

And the expectation for the top should always remain to be in the Grey Cup, and win it.  If you've noticed, President Jim Hopson has gone underground the past little while although he'll resurface this week in Vancouver.

Hopefully the next President has the fire, passion and expectations of the departing Hopson.

5 - HOCKEY THOUGHTS:  You want to know why attendance is down in amateur hockey arenas across the country (WHL, SJHL, CIS)?  Because each night we have a variety of choices on our big screens at home.  And on Friday and Saturday, that's exactly what I watched and it was mainly the Edmonton Oilers plus the Leafs-Wings game ... I should've gotten off my butt and gone and watched my alma mater, Mount Royal University, pay a visit to the U of R but I was too tantalized by having the weekend off (the Cougars and Cougars split by the way) ... Anyways the passion is gone in Edmonton as I noted on Friday but it was impressive to see Rouleau's Keith Aulie rocking bodies on the Oiler blueline.  At least someone was putting out an effort in Blue & Orange over the weekend ... As for the Leafs, Don Cherry was right in that the Toronto players were shortsighted when they refused to salute the fans after Thursday's win over Detroit.  Because a few fans threw jerseys on the ice, they turned their back on 18,000 others and the Leafs Nation.  How stupid and juvenile.  However when your leaders are Dion Phaneuf and Phil Kessel, what do you expect? ... In the WHL, the Prince Albert Raiders were bullied by the P.C. crowd into mothballing their brand new mascot.  In my days in P.A., we referred to that logo of the team as "The Sheik" and it was in reverence.  A Sheik is an Arab leader.  However, because some Middle Eastern people MIGHT be offended by the mascot, he's been retired without making an appearance.  No comment here.  Maybe I've got to find a better way of fitting into this new world we live in ... The Regina Pats are 1-1 on their west coast trip after a 6-2 win in Vancouver and a 5-0 loss in Victoria.  They're off until Wednesday when they visit the Prince George Cougars.  All games can be heard on Saskatchewan's Sports Radio, 620 CKRM.

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9-year CFL veteran, Grey Cup champion and CKRM football analyst Luc Mullinder penned this CFL Free Agent primer for you as we head into the off-season.  Enjoy!:

ARMCHAIR GM
By: Luc Mullinder

AYE!!! RELAX!!!  Gordy G and his equipment guys hadn’t even unpacked a travel bag from Edmonton yet and half of Ridernation was already making the roster decisions for 2015!!! #CoachesIncluded

I get it…The business of sport has no off season, touché my friends.  But please, let’s not stress ourselves out over the 27 guys that have been cast into the “Riderville FA watch”.

I know that everyone wants to see their favorite guys re-signed, and their least favorite guys left at the Westjet counter, but in this business, there’s truly no formula that you can use in order to pinpoint front office thinking patterns.

I’m putting these thoughts on paper for two reasons…
1. I couldn’t write about Saskatchewan vs. Calgary in the West Final
2. Quite a few of you guys have asked my thoughts on the Free Agent Outlook

This will be the only time I truly speculate as to who goes where, and which coach may get the hook etc etc.  Truthfully, I probably won’t even go that far.  I hated speculating when I was a player, and I’m not into it that much now that I’m a washed up has-been who runs a 13.23 40 yard dash (joking *kind of*).

The one thing that I will say Ridernation is that every team in the CFL is about to take a good hard look at their option year rosters, and there is some serious talent that may or may not be up for grabs when Free Agency rolls around.  Shoot, some of these guys may have re-signed by the time you read this…

Here’s how we’ll do this.  We’ll assume that none of the 27 guys that you’ve been talking about come back. Hey, it could happen.  #NotLikely.  And we’ll also assume that the guys we talk about here all make it to Free Agency…I know, a lot of assumptions, however, at least you guys will see that the Green and White aren’t the only ones at risk of losing some talent.

Ladies and Gentlemen, here are some names to ponder…

Offensive Line

Brett Jones

If Calgary can’t get this guy under contract, look out, there will be a line-up of teams that would love to have him.  Big and Physical come in the Calgary Stampeders job description, however what stands out most about him is his football IQ.  Having such a high aptitude for the game allows him to probably make a full time transition from centre to guard without missing a beat.

Obviously the Riders love their home town guys, but if he was from Yellowknife, we’d want him just as bad.  There is a path of greatness that a few Saskatchewan guys like Scott Flory and Gene Makowsky have paved.  Jones seems to be on that route.  The front office missed out on drafting him, but may look to get him in Green and White before the dust settles.

Tyler Holmes

You know with all this drama surrounding the lack of “national” offensive line talent that exists in the CFL, Tyler Holmes would be a welcome addition anywhere, and with the absolute gong show that was the Toronto Argonauts, Tyler may be looking to get outta there as fast as he can.

We had to wait until he exhausted some NFL looks, to get a look at the 2011 CFL first rounder, but the kid can flat out ball.  The Argos are probably in there right now trying to convince Braley to at least pay for SOMETHING this year, Holmes needs to be it, cause he’ll be a starter in this league until he retires.  Good Canadian Talent.  It’s limited for some reason or another, on the Oline.  Worth a real look.

Greg Wojt

While we’re talking about the Canadian talent that may be available on the Offensive Line, we may as well throw Wojt in there.  The veteran Canadian may be on his way out in Hamilton and if he can’t find a place to start in, he may be a great depth add for a team like Saskatchewan.  You’ll have to pay him as a vet, but luckily not as a high priced one.  Wojt has never been an all-star but he’s a solid football player who’s had his fair share of reps.

Matt O’Donnell

If you can’t beat ‘em, sign their FA’s and get their secrets (it happens).  6’11, Canadian, and 350 lbs.  Matt’s got plenty of Football left and had a really good year this year.  Take a look at him on Sunday, and judge for yourself.  Ed Hervey did a great job of going unnoticed this year while his team turned it all around, maybe he’ll screw up and forget to sign this behemoth.  I’m sure Rob Bagg will be a fan, he’s also a Queens Alum.

Offensive line is definitely a position group that has been mentioned a lot lately in Saskatchewan.  Nobody wants to see the guys that are in question go, but if they did, at least there are plenty of guys (especially Canadian guys) that may be available.  Depending on how the ratio shakes out with that group, talented guys like Mark Dile from Hamilton, and veteran Edwin Harrison from Calgary may be an “international” option.

Defensive Line

Jabar Westerman and Don Oramasionwu

The Rider “National” depth on the defensive sign is intriguing.  I’m not sure everyone is sold on David Lee.  Thankfully Ricky Foley never got hurt for an extended period of time because it may have caused a re-shuffling.  Westerman and Donny O may be on the outs with their respective teams or may be looking to go themselves, however their passport and skill level may be something to go after if the price is right.  The Riders wouldn’t want them both unless they planned on changing the ratio, but getting one of these two guys if the price is feasible may be a good depth pick-up.  Both have shown they can play, but they may be looking for a re-do…if the Riders want more Canadian Depth on that line, this may be an option.

Michael Klassen

Popp has struck out with his “national” D-linemen as of late.  Ahmeet Pall never panned out when they lifted him from Calgary.  Bo Adebayo didn’t scratch the field, and before that Chima Ihekwoaba looked to be the next greatest thing but never even came close to the athletic potential he exhibited.

Michael Klassen looks to have snapped the trend.  And now it’s up to Montreal to sign him or let him check out his options.  The 4th rounder made a bunch of plays for the Alouettes as part of their regular rotation and he’d be perfect here in Riderville.  Klassens only 23, and with Foley showing him and Ainsworth the ropes, the D-line Canadian Depth would be good to go.  I see Popp fighting hard to keep him in the stable there, but if he did look elsewhere, there’d be a few teams that would jockey with the Riders for his services.  Productive Canadian D-linemen are not easy to find, so teams are always open guys like Klassen.

Other notables, are two guys from Edmonton in Willis and Howard.  Howard has all the ability, but has struggled to stay healthy, and has fallen by the wayside in Edmonton.  A change of scenery may be just what the doctor ordered in his case, and you can never have enough depth at the end position.  Willis may be looking at an outside opportunity in the NFL, but the safer bet, would to be to see him re-up with the team that believed in his reincarnation.

Linebacker

Chip Cox

Chip Cox is in the top 3 when discussing the best pound for pound players in the CFL.  He’s not just a statistical beast, he’s really the heart and soul of the Montreal Defence and Special Teams units.  It’s really tough to imagine Jim Popp letting Cox walk but Montreal is going to have to pay, and extend, a couple of guys this off season and someone may choose to test the waters.  You would be nuts not to want to try and fit this quintessential dime into your defensive scheme.  The only variable that may make a GM flinch on Cox is his age, but he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, and that is due to a monster work ethic and all out love for playing the game.  He’s really Montreal’s Eddie Davis, but younger.  You get the picture.

Bear Woods

Bear Woods has been in the CFL for a few years but has bided his time as a back-up and then been hit with untimely injuries.  What you are seeing in the east-division defensive MOP nominee justifies the Alouettes patience in him, and now he looks to potentially cash in.  Ridernation has been up in arms about its LB core all year, despite the solid play of Sean Peters and Weldon Brown.  Seeing Bear Woods manning the middle for the green and white would surely silence the thirst.  Bear has two things going for him, aside from being a physically tough player.  He’s another guy with a tremendous football IQ, and really displays a good fundamental base, when it comes to the demands of the position.

Rennie Curran

This kid's a playmaker and Edmonton needs to find a way to wrap him up for the long term.  Yet another fine example of the linebacking talent that may be available when Free Agency hits.  Rider fans have seen enough of him to know his pedigree.  Good nose for the ball, and has the ability to play in multiple coverage schemes.  Dexter McCoil has been the talk of the town in Edmonton for obvious reasons, but Curran makes plays every time that the opportunity presents itself.

Ian Wild

Ian Wild did a fantastic job in Winnipeg this year.  Wild is very coachable.  When you play in a defence requires you to think outside of the box, you can tell by watching the film who the guys are that haven’t bought in.  Wild adapted very well to the concepts that were laid in front of him, and it showed up on the stat sheet, thanks to his keen eye for the ball.  The CFL game is constantly changing its offensive concepts and lately teams have looked to guys with Ian Wilds body type and skillset in order to deal with the changing coverage dynamics and athletic requirements.  Wild will always have a place on someone’s roster because of these demands.  The Rider wouldn’t complain if he fell into their lap.

Throughout 2014, there has been issues with the Middle Linebacker spot.  We all knew of the void left by Mike McCullough and Rey Williams, and to this day, the position still seems like it’s up for grabs.  A guy like Bear Woods or Ian Wild may just be the answer going into training camp.

Defensive Back

Delvin Breaux

Nobody really talks about anyone from Hamilton’s secondary, and the unit didn’t do much to stand out during the year, however there is some talent over in Steel town, and one guy in particular can be highlighted.  Sometimes the best DB’s in the league are the guys you never heard of, and a large part of that is because nobody ever tests them.  I’ll use Terrell Maze with the Riders as an example.  No all-star recognition, no fireworks, but if you ask anyone in the locker room who you don’t want to try as a QB, Maze would be the guy who jumps out.  It seems like Breaux is Hamilton’s T-Maze, but bigger; the Hamilton boundary CB stands about 6’1 and is super athletic.  The Alouettes tried him ONCE during the Eastern Final, and he made them pay by picking it off.  We all know the Riders Defence is a man scheme for the most part, and Breaux would fit in quite well with the Wolfpack.

Chris Rwanbukamba 

Other than 3-time Grey Cup champ and special teams ace, Paul Woldu, there’s no ‘national’ experience in the DB unit of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.  Rwanbukamba has proven himself more than serviceable since leaving Hamilton, to the point where he’s a guy that could really provide some awesome ratio flexibility.  If there was a defection at the field side corner, having a guy like Chris on the roster would at least allow for the discussion of having some portion of the secondary manned by a Canadian.  This would also go a long way if a guy like Ricky Foley gets hurt for a lengthy period of time.

This guy also can play multiple positions on the field.  He filled in admirably at Safety when Hinds when down this year, so he’s already struck something off Chamblins “ability our guys must possess” list.
Ryan Hinds is another guy on the Esks roster that looks like he’s in his option year, but he seems to be a high priority guy due to his role as the Free Safety when he’s healthy.

There’s a few more names at the DB spot that look like they’re going to be Free Agents in February, unfortunately they’re a little older.  Chamblin may look to develop some younger talent in that secondary either from the NFL or within the locker room.  Breaux may be worth a serious look if the TiCats choose not to lock him down.  Rwanbukamba would not only add to the depth, but he`d provide the Riders with a guy who could contribute during defensive reps.

Receiver

Shamawd Chambers?

I’m not positive Chambers didn’t already extend in Edmonton, but if he didn’t and wants to check out his value amongst the other teams, it wouldn’t kill Saskatchewan to take a look.  He’s long, plays the jump ball well and for a big guy, has field stretching speed.  He’s also going to be coming into the years where the game will start to slow down for him, and that will be huge for the youngster.  Two things that play into the Riders even considering this, is how they want to continue the development of Alex Pierchalski who looks like he has all the tools to be a good one for the green and white, and Chris Getzlaf and his fit with the squad going forward.  Chambers may be a reach, but he’s talented and you can’t leave any stone unturned.

Sam Giguere

Never really blossomed into the playmaker that people had him pegged for and may be cut loose by the Hamilton TiCats who also have Bakari Grant to deal with before February.  Depending on how much money is around (not in saying he’s worth a ton) Giguere would be a nice boost to the overall depth of the Green and White receiving core.  Currently he occupies the field side WR spot for the Cats but they don`t really look to him at all.  I`m not saying the Riders would plug him into a spot already occupied by Getz or Bagg, but you could find plenty of ways to infuse him into the offense gradually.

SJ Green

SJ Green was huge in the resurgence of the Alouettes during the back half of the season and throughout their playoff push.  All eyes are going to be on Jim Popp to see how he deals with the perennial All Star Green.  With everyone already punching Duron Carters ticket to the NFL, does Jim Popp really risk losing two of his main receiving targets?  My guess is no, especially after his 3 TD performance in the Eastern Final.  Green is a core guy there, and with other core guys taking pay cuts to stay in Montreal last year, I don’t see Green being coaxed out of La Belle Province.  The one thing I will agree on is that if SJ Green were to switch squads, the Riders would be his first choice.

Aaron Kelly

Kelly made some big plays for the Bombers and can be used at the 1st down sticks for jump ball plays or as a legit vertical threat to stretch the field.  He’s not the fastest guy on the field but is a nice addition to round out any teams receiving core.

Running Back

Honestly, the Riders are set at this position and one gets the feeling that if they were to actively go and look to add to their training camp roster, they’d look south first.  Names that may be popping up will be Matt Walter in Calgary, who would affectively replace a guy like Neil Hughes in terms of what he can do offensively and on Teams.  Another interesting name would be Tyrell Sutton, however he’s been in the Montreal system for a while and looks to be the incumbent to Brandon Whitticker who bowed out to injury for the second year in a row.  This is also a position group that looks to be set, and it’s safe to say that I’m not the only one that anticipates Keith Tosten taking the next step in 2015.

Those are just a few names that may be worth looking into as we sit and anticipate how Brenden Taman goes about his off season to-do list.  The option year charts are not the only resources that the Saskatchewan Roughriders will use to collect talent.  This is an organization that over the last few years has done a great job of finding productive players outside of the CFL.

Players like Levy Adcock, Derek Walker and Anthony Allen are just a few names, on the list of many, which Craig Smith and the gang have worked hard at finding.

The Rider brass may very well be intent on bringing guys up that they’ve been practising with.

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The point here is to not panic.  If your favorite player happens to start training camp next year in a different uniform, I’m sure that there will be a guy in his place that will get it done.  The one thing that you know from watching Coach Chamblin over the last few years is that he is going to have a team on the field that will compete and expect to win.

My Arm Chair assessment is simple.  I`d go after Brett Jones, Chris Rwanbukamba, Bear Woods, or Curran (if he`s there) and a big possession receiver.  Then I would probably work to get some more Canadian talent into camp.  Either way, just remember guys, there`s no formula, and anything goes.

See you guys in BC as RIDERVILLE takes over the convention centre.

#ProPerspective

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THANKS LUC! HAVE A GREAT WEEK EVERYONE...
RP
@sportscage

MONDAY EYE-OPENER

This year's Grey Cup will be a rematch of 1999's CFL championship game. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats will play the Calgary Stampeders at BC Place next Sunday. Hamilton downed Montreal 40-24 in Sunday's East Final while Calgary dominated Edmonton in a 43-18 rout in the West. The Ticats last won the Grey Cup in '99, when they beat the Stampeders in Vancouver.

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Henrik Lundqvist stopped 21 shots for his fourth shutout and Martin St. Louis had a goal and assist as the New York Rangers routed the NHL-leading Montreal Canadiens 5-0. Lundqvist posted his team-record 54th shutout. Dominic Moore scored his first goal of the season for the Rangers, who had three days off due to a snow postponement in Buffalo.

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It was a happy homecoming for Ryan Reaves. The Winnipeg native scored the deciding goal at 2:25 of the third period to lift the St. Louis Blues to a 4-2 win over the Jets. Alex Steen, who's also from Winnipeg, had a pair of assists as the Blues ended a four-game road trip on a high note. Winnipeg has lost two straight.

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It was another fourth-quarter Mile High miracle for Peyton Manning. Manning directed the Denver Broncos to 22 points in the fourth quarter en route to a 39-36 come-from-behind victory over Miami. Manning completed 28 of 35 passes for 257 yards and four touchdowns, becoming the third player in NFL history with touchdown passes in 50 consecutive games. The others are Drew Brees and Tom Brady.

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Around the NFL, the Chicago Bears topped Tampa Bay 21-13, the Philadelphia Eagles downed Tennessee 43-24, Seattle dominated Arizona 19-3, San Diego edged the St. Louis Rams 27-24, and San Francisco got past Washington with a 17-13 victory.

(Canadian Press)