Tuesday, August 1, 2017
THE POINT AFTER: HEADING INTO WEEK 7
The sixth week of the CFL regular season featured its share of the good, bad and ugly.
A sparkling one-handed grab by Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver Duron Carter highlighted the good while a couple of missed tackles topped the bad. And the Hamilton Tiger-Cats' lopsided 60-1 road loss to the Calgary Stampeders was certainly ugly.
Here's a look at the week that was:
- Carter's back-handed circus catch in Saskatchewan's 38-27 home win over Toronto on Saturday was amazing. Despite close coverage from Argos' defender Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, Carter went airborne then fully extended his right arm to snag Kevin Glenn's TD pass with just one hand.
Carter finished with nine catches for 131 yards and two TDs. He had just one touchdown reception coming in.
Predictably, Carter's catch set social media ablaze with his father - Pro Football Hall of Famer Cris Carter - tweeting "#catchoftheyear.''
Afterwards, Duron Carter gave the ball to Paige Hansen, a 12-year-old cancer survivor.
- On Saturday, Saskatchewan honoured former running back Joe McKnight, who was fatally shot in the off-season. McKnight's family attended the game and participated in the ceremonial coin toss. They saw Cameron Marshall rush for 110 yards on 18 carries versus Toronto.
- Toronto quarterback Ricky Ray threw for 386 yards and three TDs versus Saskatchewan for a career-best sixth straight 300-yard game. Ray, 37, also became the Argos all-time passing leader with 16,634 yards, surpassing Condredge Holloway (16,619).
- Mike Reilly had 412 yards passing and two TDs in leading Edmonton (5-0) past B.C. 37-26 to remain the CFL's only unbeaten squad. Reilly found Vidal Hazelton on an 108-yard touchdown pass in the first half, the longest in Eskimos history and in the CFL since 2002.
- Glenn had four touchdown passes and no interceptions versus Toronto. He finished 24-of-37 passing as both Carter and Bakari Grant (five catches, 115 yards) cracked the 100-yard plateau.
- The Winnipeg Blue Bombers scored twice and recovered an onside kick with under a minute to play to snatch a 41-40 home win over the Montreal Alouettes on Thursday. Matt Nichols started the comeback with a four-yard TD strike to Ryan Lankford to pull the Bombers to within 40-35 with 44 seconds remaining.
Then Brandon Alexander recovered the onside kick at the Winnipeg 52-yard line. The Bombers drove to the Montreal one-yard line with Andrew Harris running in for the winning TD - his second of the game - as time expired.
- Calgary native Andrew Buckley was 10-of-10 passing for 106 yards and TD replacing starter Bo Levi Mitchell versus Hamilton. Buckley became the first Canadian quarterback to throw a touchdown pass since Brandon Bridge of Mississauga, Ont., did so Nov. 8, 2015 with Montreal. Also of note, Marken Michel had six catches for 190 yards and TD for the Stamps while CFL rushing leader Jerome Messam ran 11 times for 91 yards and three TDs.
- It wasn't why Toronto lost in Regina, but Johnny Sears Jr.'s lapse certainly contributed. With 3:20 remaining, Saskatchewan faced second-and-10 from its 35-yard line nursing a 30-27 lead. Grant made a diving catch that was short of a first down, seemingly forcing the Riders to punt. Sears was close enough to contact Grant and down the receiver but Grant was allowed to get back up. He broke Sears' attempted tackle for a 29-yard completion and first down. Five plays later, Glenn found Caleb Holley for a 14-yard TD strike that gave the Riders their winning margin.
- Earlier in the quarter, Toronto's kickoff team was caught napping when Saskatchewan effectively executed an onside kick. Erick Dargan recovered Tyler Crapigna's 12-yard kick after the Riders went ahead 27-24 on Glenn's 14-yard TD strike to Carter. Fortunately for the Argos, the home team punted five plays later.
- Montreal's inability to close the deal against Winnipeg. See above.
- Safety Chris Ackie had a chance to make Winnipeg's comeback bid more difficult late in the fourth quarter. On first-and-10 from the Alouettes' 45-yard line with Montreal leading 40-35, Ackie sacked Bombers quarterback Matt Nichols for a six-yard loss but was flagged for unnecessary roughness after a high hit on Nichols. Winnipeg took over at the Montreal 30-yard line and four plays later Harris scored the winning TD.
- Hamilton was simply awful in Calgary. The Stampeders scored six offensive touchdowns and added one each on defence and special teams in handing the Ticats their worst defeat since an 82-14 loss to Montreal in 1956.
All Hamilton (0-5) could muster was Sergio Castillo's 53-yard punt single in the second quarter that cut Calgary's lead to 32-1. The Ticats face Edmonton (5-0) on Friday night but did play the Eskimos tough in a 31-28 loss at Tim Hortons Field on July 20.
Hamilton's precarious state puts plenty of pressure on Kent Austin, in his fifth season as head coach/vice-president of football operations. But since guiding the Ticats to consecutive Grey Cup appearances (2013-14), Austin is 17-24.
To be fair, Hamilton's injured list features all-star linebacker Simoni Lawrence and six defensive backs, including CFL veterans Emmanuel Davis and Craig Butler and Demond Washington. Also hurt are 1,000-yard receivers Andy Fantuz and Terrance Toliver.
"It (60-1 loss) has brought the value of clarity to our situation,'' Ticats owner Bob Young said via email to The Canadian Press. "Oddly it is no worse for us in the standings than a 21-20 loss would have been.
"So the value of a 60-1 loss is that we can embrace our 0-5 record, not deny it thinking we are a better team than our record shows.''
Young clarified by "team'' he means, "the entire Ticats organization: management, our coaches and players, the equipment guys, everyone.''
The last time the Ticats began 0-5 was '07 when they finished 3-15. Despite its struggles, Hamilton is just two wins out of second in the East Division.
But East clubs are a dismal 2-12-1 versus West Division rivals.
(Canadian Press/Dan Ralph)