Stamps' Lewis doing better than expected

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:48 PM ET

Everyone in the Calgary Stampeders organization can take a deep breath and relax this weekend.

Yes, the Stamps dropped their second game this season -- a thrilling 43-37 overtime loss in Regina -- but things aren't as bad as they might have seemed Friday night.

In the immediate aftermath of the defeat at a sold-out Mosaic Stadium, the fortunes appeared bleaker than one would expect for a 9-2 team.

The defence couldn't stop Andy Fantuz and Darian Durant from connecting, and it appeared receiver Nik Lewis might have suffered a crippling knee injury.

Just like the loss, it's not as dire a day later.

"I got the MRI and it's not as bad as they thought," Lewis said via Twitter Saturday afternoon. "Still in pain and still focused on getting back on the field."

On a night when Lewis passed Travis Moore to go into third place in the franchise's all-time receiving yards list, the possession slotback was a bull once again, fighting for yardage after the catch.

Although he injured the knee sometime in the third quarter, Lewis stayed in the game.

He couldn't reach the final pass in overtime, as he fell going after a Henry Burris pass, and that's where it ended.

If the Stamps were exposed in any area, it would only be in the deep passing game, as the Riders connected on seven plays of longer than 25 yards.

Overall, there are more positives than negatives.

The Stamps held a four-point lead at halftime and after 45 minutes, but they built it to 11 midway through the final frame.

The points ended at that point as the Riders scored on a 60-yard strike by Fantuz, who finished with 255 yards receiving, just five short of the Saskatchewan record.

Burris put the onus for the loss on the offence, especially when it couldn't keep the ball away from Durant and the Riders late in the game.

When the Riders fought back to within three points thanks to a two-point converted TD, Burris hit Lewis for a seven-yard gain and then Chris McKenzie knocked a would-be first-down pass out of fullback Rob Cote's grasp.

The Riders kicked the tying field goal, and Burris connected with short passes to Romby Bryant and Joffrey Reynolds to give the ball back to Durant again.

The chances were there to win in regulation, and the Riders gave the Stamps another one in overtime by making a gaffe by trying to punt the ball through the endzone instead of attempting a 35-yard field goal as time expired.

A year ago, the Riders had a momentum swing by beating the Stamps on a last-second field goal in Week 5. Head coach Ken Miller hopes it'll happen again, especially after his team got him off the hook.

"It turned a corner for us from the struggles we've had recently, so hopefully, we can use this as an impetus for the rest of the season," Miller said.

The Stamps offence did manage to put up 427 total yards, didn't turn the ball over and didn't allow a sack.

Kicker Rob Maver was good on all three of his field-goal attempts, and running back Jon Cornish hit the endzone for the first time this season.

There were, however, rare coaching mistakes by head coach John Hufnagel, who tried to challenge a play that is not reviewable only to get dinged for delay of game and failed to throw his flag when it appeared Weston Dressler was downed at the one-yard line on a TD.

The Stamps now focus on a home date with the B.C. Lions next Saturday at McMahon Stadium, followed by a home-and-away series with the East Division-leading Montreal Alouettes.

Then it's on to Saskatchewan again, where the Riders now have life in the season series.

After seven straight games of convincing wins, the Stamps could certainly use some adversity, and now they have it.

What they do next will determine if they are championship worthy.

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca


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