Stamps must continue the fight
By IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency
|Stamps QB Bo Levi Mitchell (far right) keeps the ball for a first down during CFL action between the Calgary Stampeders and the Edmonton Eskimos at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alberta September 28, 2012. (JIM WELLS/QMI AGENCY)
In terms of measuring sticks, the Calgary Stampeders came up a few inches short here and there Saturday night.
Overall, there should be no reason for crisis mode after the Stamps lost 27-22 to the B.C. Lions in Vancouver.
It’s quite easy to see how the Stamps let slip away the opportunity to move into first place in the CFL’s West Division.
They took way too many penalties — getting dinged 13 times for 143 yards — had a couple of key two-and-outs on offence in the third quarter and just missed a chance for a turnover at midfield.
Only Malik Jackson knows if he’s having sleepless nights over a missed interception in the third quarter.
With the Stamps behind, they abandoned the rushing attack, making it so their best offensive weapon, Jon Cornish, wasn’t part of the plan, getting just two second-half carries.
The Stampeders are now two wins back of the Lions with four games remaining and have already lost the season-series with the B.C. club. All the Lions have to do now is win two games to clinch first place in the West, but the Stamps are more focused on themselves.
“We just have to win every game,” said Cornish of a bid to overtake the first-place Lions before the end of the regular season.
“It’s not a completely unreasonable proposition.
“This game is a great opportunity for us to see where we are. We have to improve.
“Coming into the game, we were in control of our destiny. Now, we need help to get first place. In the end, we have to be focused on improving as a team. We might have lost, but we did a bunch of good things as a team (Saturday).”
Since 2001, the Stamps and the Lions have faced each other just once in the post-season, and the Red & White won that West final at McMahon Stadium in ’08.
With top spot a long-shot, the Stamps should just turn their attention to securing second place in the division.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders can tie the Stamps in the standings by beating the Toronto Argonauts on Monday, but at least the Horsemen hold the tiebreakers in that series.
Outside of an Oct. 26 finale with the Lions, the Stamps have a relatively easy schedule.
They should be able to get on track Saturday in Winnipeg, considering the host Blue Bombers (3-10) will be on a short week after playing Monday in Montreal.
When Henry Burris and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats come into McMahon Stadium on Oct. 20, it will be an emotional game playing against their former signal-caller, so the Stamps should have no trouble getting fired up for it.
The season-finale in Edmonton is also a good matchup for the Stamps, as they’ve beaten the Eskimos three times already this season.
The bad news is the Stamps have lost four straight playoff games to the Riders, and the Eskimos beat them last year in Edmonton.
The wildcard for head coach/GM John Hufnagel’s group going down the stretch is the injury situation. Middle linebacker Juwan Simpson injured his ankle Saturday, but he wasn’t the only one dinged up. Jamar Wall (ankle) left the game, while Chris Randle (knee) and Deron Mayo (leg) both suffered injuries yet stayed in to finish.
“There were a lot of guys sucking it up on that field,” said Hufnagel, adding Simpson’s effort was impressive.
“He played a heck of a game. He played hurt. We tried to get him off the field as much as possible. That’s why we tried the substitutions. But he was out there was making plays.”
There is another situation with the Stamps that could play a major factor in the final month.
When does Drew Tate get the nod to get back into action? And does he take over this offence before the regular season concludes?
Hufnagel said Kevin Glenn did some good things Saturday, but the veteran QB also missed some throws. Certainly, Hufnagel didn’t believe Glenn was the only problem, though.
“We had spurts on offence,” Hufnagel said. “When you play a good defence, you aren’t going to have smooth sailing for 60 minutes.
“We had a good first quarter and a good fourth quarter. We have to make sure the lulls aren’t as long as they were.
“We only had the ball twice in the third quarter, and both series were were two-and-out.
“Our defence has to get off the field, too.”