Nothing sloppy about hot Hank

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:47 AM ET

CALGARY -- Henry Burris had plenty to smile about.

In a game, which was billed as a battle of quarterbacks, Burris won hands down.

The Calgary Stampeders quarterback threw for three touchdowns passes, ran for another and led his team to a convincing 43-23 win over the Edmonton Eskimos yesterday at McMahon Stadium in Calgary.

The win gave the Stamps second place in the CFL West division and a home playoff date for the first time since 2001.

"Henry is doing a very good job of not being sloppy with the football, which he had a tendency to do early in the season," said Stampeders head coach Tom Higgins.

"He's in a very good groove right now. He's very confident in what he can do. He knows what his abilities are, when to run with the ball and when to throw the ball down the field. He's making some very, very good decisions."

Making better decisions has Burris leading the Stampeders to the Western semifinal as hosts next Saturday against the Eskimos.

Yesterday's game was indicative of the type of play the Stamps have seen out of Burris on their way to winning seven of their last eight contests.

NO INTERCEPTIONS

Burris finished the game 14-of-24 passing for 311 yards and no interceptions.

Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray, on the other hand, finished 24-of-40 for 228 yards without a touchdown pass and three interceptions.

"If you look at Hank's (Burris) past, wherever he's playing at the end of the season, he always gets hot," said Stamps receiver Jermaine Copeland.

"I really think he's got this offence down, he got all his reads where they're supposed to be and that's what we needed. We needed our head man to get started and once he got started, everything else just fell into place."

Heading into the playoffs, the Stampeders are the hottest team in the CFL. Burris makes no qualms about they key to the turnaround.

THE BOTTOM LINE ...

"The turnover ratio is the bottom line," said Burris. "We were in the minus-13, minus-15 range at the midway point of the season and now we are on the plus side. If we don't shoot ourselves in the foot, we're giving ourselves a better chance to win."

The Stampeders offence had one turnover yesterday when Burris and running back Joffrey Reynolds got their signals crossed in the fourth quarter.

Apart from the one fumble, Burris did a great job of protecting the ball.

"We did have one mistake and we'll have to work on that," Burris said.

"But right now, I think we are doing a good job with the football. We're not trying to take so many chances, we're not trying to force anything. When we see an opportunity, we'll try to take it but also be smart about it."

Now that the Stamps have solidified a home date, it's important for the team to make the most of it.

They may have handled the Eskimos relatively easy yesterday, but the Stamps know they'll be in for a tough battle come Saturday.

"Our records are the same," said Burris.

"We have no upper hand against them other than we have home-field advantage. We're going to keep things in perspective, stay humble, work on things we didn't do well in this game and try to do better in the next game."


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