CALGARY - Calgary Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson wasn't feeling all that celebratory after a hectic 43-39 win over the Ottawa Redblacks on Thursday.
In fact, Dickenson gave the impression of a man grateful to slide off a bucking bronco in one piece.
He was uncomfortable with a lack of execution that allowed the defending Grey Cup champions turn Calgary's home-opener into a white-knuckle ride.
"I don't feel great about it, but I'll take it,'' Dickenson said. "It just feels like, boy, one of those where we made it so difficult on ourselves. I just know those things will come back to bite you.
"I know we've got to get better.''
After Ottawa's 39-33 overtime upset of Calgary to win November's Grey Cup, CFL schedulers pitted the teams against each other in back-to-back games to open 2017.
The Stampeders and Redblacks tied 31-31 last week in Ottawa.
"I don't know what it is about Ottawa, but it's always these crazy games that come down to the wire,'' said slotback Kamar Jorden, who scored Calgary's first and final touchdowns of the game.
"I felt like at the end of the game, when it mattered, we came through with big clutch plays.''
Marken Michel, Maleki Harris and Tunde Adeleke earned their first career CFL touchdowns, with backup quarterback Andrew Buckley also rushing for a major in front of an announced 24,613 at McMahon Stadium.
Marquay McDaniel had a two-point convert catch with kicker Rene Paredes adding a field goal for the hosts. Paredes made just one of four convert attempts, however.
Ottawa quarterback Trevor Harris threw for 425 yards and two touchdowns, while Calgary counterpart Bo Levi Mitchell finished with 295 passing yards and a trio of touchdown throws.
Diontae Spencer scored twice for Ottawa, with Brad Sinopoli and Mossis Madu Jr., also contributing majors. Brett Maher kicked four field goals. Madu rushed for a two-point convert.
The teams also traded punt-return touchdowns. Spencer ran the ball in from 96 yards and Adeleke from 71.
While Mitchell is "chucking the ball pretty damn well,'' Dickenson said the offence was inconsistent.
"We're undefeated and it feels like everyone is playing poor and that's not the case,'' he continued. "It's early in the season.
"We have such a high standard and our guys right now believe in ourselves, but it's not very good football. We better look in the mirror because pretty soon we'll be getting losses.''
Deadlocked 17-17 at halftime, Calgary scored two touchdowns early in the third quarter.
Buckley kept the ball on a short-yardage package and ran it in from 60 yards followed by a defensive touchdown from Harris.
But the Redblacks twice pulled within a field goal late in the game. Jorden's eight-yard reception with three and a half minutes left in the game stood up as the winner.
After 126 yards in penalties last week, the Redblacks again did not help themselves Thursday with 90.
For example, Ottawa would have scored on Harris's first throw of the game, but Greg Ellingson's catch and run to the end zone was called back on an illegal blocking penalty by Sinopoli.
"It's on me to figure that out and do whatever we need to do to fix it,'' Ottawa head coach Rick Campbell said. "It too hard to win football games when you're going backwards.
"We had too long a list of things to overcome. We have the makings to be able to do some things, but obviously we're not where we need to be.
"We need to make sure we address those issues and make teams beat us.''
Calgary's defence was brilliant at key moments in the first half, but seemed to tire late in the game.
Stampeder Alex Singleton's hard tackle on Patrick Lavoie knocked the ball loose for Harris's touchdown. Consecutive pass knockdowns from Ciante Evans and Singleton held Ottawa to a field goal in the first half.
Defensive tackle Micah Johnson accounted for three of Calgary's four sacks on Harris.