Last-second history

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:03 AM ET

Edmonton Eskimo head coach Danny Maciocia has labelled it Labour Day, Part 2.

The Eskimo-Stampeder battle in Calgary tomorrow afternoon will be for all the marbles in the CFL West Division if the B.C. Lions lose tonight at B.C. Place.

If the Riders pull off the upset over the Leos, the Esks and Stamps will decide first, second and third place in the West.

But even if the Lions win, tomorrow afternoon's game still has significant meaning, with the winner taking potentially crucial home-field advantage for the West semifinal.

Needless to say, it's one of the biggest regular-season tilts in a decade for the Green and Gold - and it marks just the third time in 13 years that the final game before the playoffs actually matters.

However, if you delve into the Eskimo history book over the last 25 years, several final regular-season games have produced some remarkable and meaningful moments.

- - -

- NOV. 8, 1982

EDMONTON AT SASKATCHEWAN

SITUATION: An Edmonton win and Winnipeg loss clinches first

With CBC televising the game live from Taylor Field while providing highlights of Winnipeg playing in Hamilton, Eskimo equipment man Stu Kirtio was the messenger to the Edmonton bench.

"We had Stu running around checking all the televisions all afternoon," said Edmonton lineman Bill Stevenson.

Fortunately for the Green and Gold, Bomber QB Dieter Brock literally fumbled away Winnipeg's chances at almost the exact same moment Warren Moon sailed a long bomb into Brian Kelly's hands for the touchdown that sealed Edmonton's 46-22 win.

It was another marvellous afternoon for Moon, throwing three TDs to Kelly and becoming the first Eskimo to reach the 5,000-yard mark in a season, hitting the milestone on his final completion of the day.

The win completed one of the biggest backdoor jobs in CFL history.

Edmonton was last halfway through the season with a dismal 3-5 record.

It was then that coach Hugh Campbell announced he would be leaving after the season to join the USFL.

From that point on the Eskimos didn't lose.

The win in Regina was the club's eighth straight victory.

"Somebody should make a movie about this," said running back Jim Germany.

The ending to the flick would have been outstanding, as the Eskimos continued to roll in the playoffs, winning their fifth consecutive Grey Cup.

- OCT. 30, 1983

TORONTO AT EDMONTON

SITUATION: A win clinches a playoff spot

Warren Moon's final game in Edmonton was a disaster.

After blowing several games earlier in the season, the Eskimos gassed a glorious chance to clinch a spot in the post-season as Dave Cutler missed a 17-yard field goal with 1:02 remaining.

Trailing by a point, the Argos proceeded to march the ball 55 yards in the final minute to score on a 24-yard scamper by backup QB Joe Barnes, winning 22-15 in front of 53,577 who came to say goodbye to Moon.

Although the Esks still had a sliver of hope to reach the post-season if Calgary lost the following weekend, the players thought the goose had been cooked.

"I just can't believe we're done in October," said Dale Potter, while teammates said their goodbyes in the dressing room.

But one week later in Calgary, that sliver of hope became reality, as the Riders - the worst team in the league - beat Calgary to give the Esks another backdoor entrance to the playoffs.

"Make sure you tell Norm (Kimball, Eskimo executive manager) to send me a Christmas turkey," cracked Rider GM John Herrera after the Riders shocked the Stamps 27-23.

But if anybody deserved the Christmas turkey it was Stampeder centre Ted Milian.

Traded from the Eskimos earlier in the season, Milian botched a snap to Stamp punter Mike McTague with 1:20 to play.

A good snap would have likely killed the last remaining hope for the Eskimos, as the Riders were losing to Calgary by three points.

"Saskatchewan would have been deep in their own end, with a gale wind blowing in their face and there's no way they'd have come back to score," said Calgary coach Jack Gotta.

Instead, the brutal snap gave the Riders the ball at Calgary's 43-yard line and QB Homer Jordan used just five plays to find the end zone.

- NOV. 7, 1988

CALGARY AT EDMONTON

SITUATION: A win clinches first

With Saskatchewan, Edmonton and B.C. separated by just two points in a wild dog fight for first place, the Eskimos desperately needed to win to avoid a dreaded road trip.

Edmonton was a stellar 7-1 at home, but a sad 3-6 on the road.

Thankfully for the Green and Gold and the 27,499 frozen fans, Jerry Kauric answered the bell again.

One year after winning the Grey Cup with 45 seconds on the clock, Kauric nailed a 25-yard field goal with nine seconds remaining to beat Calgary 20-19.

- NOV. 6, 1991

EDMONTON AT WINNIPEG

SITUATION: A win clinches first

It was a wild rollercoaster ride for two days for the Eskimos.

The day before kickoff the entire city was closed off and the media was screaming to cancel the game.

A major blizzard closed every road leading out of Winnipeg, the TSN production truck was stuck in Brandon and the Winnipeg Stadium resembled a hockey rink with ice covering the field.

That night the rollercoaster turned again with lowly Hamilton shocking the B.C. Lions, meaning Edmonton would clinch first with a win the next day.

Through the night, airport runway crews moved to Winnipeg Stadium to clear the field.

With two inches of ice still covering the field in the morning, the CFL decided to change some dimensions to make it safer.

It became a 90-yard field: 10-yard lines became the goal lines and the sidelines were moved in 10 feet.

And on the hockey rink that afternoon the Eskimos skated their way to a 28-18 win to host the West final for the 13th time in 19 years.


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