November 13, 2012
Lions looking ahead, not behindStamps topped Lions 41-21 in Calgary last month
By HOSEA CHEUNG, QMI Agency
Barring some Inception-type procedure, the B.C. Lions won't be able to completely erase the memories of the last time they faced the Calgary Stampeders.
All the poking and prodding by the media about that Oct. 26 matchup, in the lead-up to the West Division final on Sunday, isn't going to help.
But while that nightmarish effort will continue to generate chatter all this week, the Lions won't dwell on it or even use it as some sort of motivational tool. Instead, the reigning Grey Cup champions would much rather focus on the future, not the past.
"Honestly, being it's the West final and we're playing a home game, that's all the motivation we need," said quarterback Travis Lulay, who sat out that frigid game three weeks ago with a shoulder injury. "That (loss) might add a little bit to it the fact that we're very aware if we don't show up and play, and if we don't play well, this is a team that will beat us."
What transpired during Week 18, when the Stamps stunned the Lions with 34 consecutive points to start the game before eventually winning 41-21 at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, provided a wake-up call of sorts for B.C. The usually consistent Lions' inability to show up came after three consecutive wins and added to Calgary's current five-game streak.
Despite having already clinched first place in the West heading into that matchup, the lopsided loss left some question marks for the Lions, which they promptly tried to answer with a 17-6 regular-season finale win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders a week later.
As they get ready to face the Stamps again -- and look to avoid a similar result -- any talks of redemption was quickly dismissed by head coach Mike Benevides.
"There's never redemption," Benevides said. "You can't look at it that way. There's no question we were totally unhappy with what happened. We were embarrassed and regardless of what was at stake or not at stake, that was a terrible, terrible first quarter.
"But that's history "¦ so we have to find a way to perform on a high level on (Sunday)."
This time around, things will be a bit different for the Lions.
For one, they'll have Lulay back in the fold. The No. 1 pivot, who played one quarter against the Riders on Nov. 3, pointed out that the club's bye week was beneficial in helping him rest his sore shoulder.
Secondly, the Lions will be indoors at BC Place -- a fortress where they have lost just once in their last 15 outings -- and not in frozen McMahon.
This season, the two sides met once in Vancouver, with B.C. winning 27-22 during Week 15, a game that saw the hosts score three touchdowns despite the absence of veteran slotbacks Geroy Simon and Arland Bruce.
The Lions were also triumphant early in the season in Cowtown, posting a convincing 34-8 victory while holding Stampeders running back Jon Cornish to negative-one rushing yards.
With all those past experiences against Calgary still in mind, the dangerous nature of the Stamps won't be lost on the Lions.
"They create some matchup problems for us, like we do as well for them," said B.C. defensive end Keron Williams, who had two sacks and two forced fumbles against Calgary this season. "They got great talent around the ball and their defence are tenacious and attack on every front. With all those assets and plays, we have to be very sharp on our side of the ball -- offence, defence, and special teams -- and execute to give ourselves the best chance (to win)."
LIONS WON'T HOLD BACK TATE
Much of the talk coming from the Calgary camp early this week had to do with the health of Stampeders quarterback Drew Tate.
His overly casual, yet misleading, remarks on TSN about not remembering the first half of the West semifinal brought up questions surrounding the severity of the helmet-to-helmet hit he took from Saskatchewan's Tearrius George.
But whether or not the Stamps starter is suffering from any concussion-related issues, it won't change the B.C. Lions' approach.
"You don't worry about stuff like that," linebacker Anton McKenzie said. "He has a whole week to heal up so we're going to hit the quarterback no matter what. We're going to put pressure on the quarterback, give him hits, get him on the ground."
This season, the 28-year-old Tate has appeared just once against the Lions, completing five of seven passes for 68 yards and one touchdown on Oct. 26. He also threw an interception.
"Drew Tate brings a different kind of aspect to the game with his mobility," linebacker Adam Bighill said, adding it'll take team defence to shut down Calgary's offence. "Everyone playing their responsibility and no one trying to make super-human plays. They run the football well and are starting to spread the ball out a lot more."