Fleming kicks Stamps

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

CALGARY -- When the Edmonton Eskimos stripped him of his job, Sean Fleming said all the right things.

Seeing Hayden Epstein kicking field goals was anything but easy, but Fleming didn't rant or rave.

Instead, he faced reporters and didn't offer a negative word about anybody in the organization.

Now the entire team is talking about Fleming.

Nobody in the country can talk about a hotter kicker.

The 14-year veteran was outstanding yesterday.

If there was an Outstanding Canadian award for the West semifinal, he would have won in unanimous fashion.

A perfect six for six on field goal attempts, Fleming played a critical role in yesterday's 33-26 Edmonton win over Calgary.

TWO TOUCHDOWNS

"People will talk about those two touchdowns in the second half," said head coach Danny Maciocia, "but those field goals were huge."

Fleming missed tying the all-time single game CFL playoff record, which is seven successful attempts set by Carlos Huerta of the Baltimore Stallions in 1995 against San Antonio.

But he has a chance to set the all-time record for most field goals in a playoff season, as Huerta and Troy Westwood hold the mark with nine.

"This is a place where I love kicking," said Fleming, who had five field goals in the 1996 Western final in this stadium. That included the game winner on the final play of the game.

Fleming's effort was typical of the last six weeks for the Eskimos.

While the offence has struggled, Fleming has been on fire.

He was the difference maker in Edmonton's win against Saskatchewan and B.C. last month.

In yesterday's tilt, he kept the team alive in the first half with four field goals.

"He kept us in the game until we got things going," said receiver Ed Hervey."Those huge kicks early kept us close and kept the momentum from shifting.

"He kept his team believing."

INCONSISTENT PLAY

Since the Eskimos axed Epstein for inconsistent play in mid-September, Fleming has missed just three times in 21 attempts in the last six games.

"It is confidence," said Fleming of his remarkable hot streak.

"I knew if I could back in there (this fall) to turn things around I knew I would."

The Eskimos are definitely thankful.

LATE HITS: Backup running back Mike Maurer played a role in Fleming's success yesterday.

In an unfortunate twist of fate, Maurer had to turn back the clock four years and become a long snapper again.

Rookie Taylor Inglis -- who has done a solid job all year snapping for Fleming on punts and field goals -- likely tore a major knee ligament in the second half.

"I twisted my knee and heard it pop," said Inglis.

That forced Maurer into action.

"Mike did an outstanding job," said Fleming.

Maurer was playing with the B.C. Lions in 2001 when he had to take over snapping duties four games into the season.

But that had been his last taste of firing the ball back to a small target.

"Whenever you are the second guy in -- like Jason Maas -- you have got to be ready," said Maurer.

"I had been working on it in practice.

"I just went over the techniques in my mind before every snap and just did it."


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