Puzzling play by pivot

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:33 AM ET

You can almost hear the chorus of "I-told-you-so's" every time Henry Burris tosses an ill-advised interception, coughs up a fumble or skips a pass off the turf.

Football fans in Saskatchewan had grown accustomed to seeing their former quarterback transform from brilliant to brutal in the bat of an eye.

Stamps fans had another glimpse of that kind of frustrating play from Smilin' Hank Friday night at McMahon Stadium.

The free-agent acquisition was still worth the price of admission for the 31,847 on hand, threading the needle to Jeremaine Copeland and Co., exercising his almost unlimited arm strength while parading his flash-and-dash abilities to make things happen.

With Burris, the endzone is never out of reach.

On the other hand, the tendency to crash and burn also seems to be lurking around every corner.

These are frustrating lapses in judgment considering the man running the Stamps offence is in his seventh CFL season.

In an instant the vet transforms maddeningly from gamebreaker to heartbreaker as he did against the visiting Lions.

His most glaring gaffe against B.C. had Burris dropping back with three defenders in his face, the ball poised for a pass, before allowing the pigskin to be stripped.

Chris Wilson scooped up the precious prize and heading 61 yards the other way for a touchdown.

Protect the football is one of the game's mantras but has yet to sink in with the 2005 edition of the Red and White, now dead last in the CFL in the often overlooked giveaway-takeaway statistic.

It's safe to say Dave Dickenson isn't as careless with the ball.

The Lions QB proved once again how he is in a class by himself in the CFL, unmatched for his combination of skills, smooth efficiency and uncommonly cool bomb-squad nerves.

Compounding Burris's hot and cold play against the Lions was the gaggle of goofs provided by his Stampeders teammates, with the local squad turning the ball over five times in the frustrating 39-31 loss.

Those kinds of mistakes rarely go unpunished, much like the five-turnover night against the Grey Cup champion Argos in the season-opening loss.

"We got drives going and the only difference for us was turnovers," Burris acknowledged in the Stamps locker-room after the game.

"Those are things we have to overcome."

Burris deserves loads of backslaps for his play, too.

His 421 yards passing (and three touchdowns) has been eclipsed by just a handful of other Stampeders pivots in recent years, the likes of Doug Flutie, Jeff Garcia and Dickenson.

When Burris was on, he demonstrated once again the unlimited potential of this year's Stampeders offence and all the reasons the club looks primed to compete for a playoff spot for the first time since 2001.

First-year receiver MarTay Jenkins enjoyed his best game as a Stampeder with three catches for 87 yards and two TDs.

His pair of 40-yard grabs for scores in the third and fourth quarters serve as perfect examples of Burris The Brilliant, always capable of making the huge strike, never leaving his team out of reach.

Jenkins acknowledged turnovers were the difference but said the team refused to give up.

"We fought our butts off to get up to 31 points and we had a chance to tie it up," Jenkins said afterward.

"We can't give that ball up that much ... four fumbles and an interception. You can't win with five turnovers but we still battled back to make it close."

It's exciting to watch with the results running the gamut from dazzling to disastrous, polar opposite plays often cropping up within minutes of each other.

That has been the storyline of the Stampeders season through seven games but win or lose, it's quite a show.

The football faithful to the East, now watching the Nealon Greene-Marcus Crandell quarterbacking carousel, would love to have the same problems.


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