Esks, Lions have a strange playoff history

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:09 AM ET

Are the Edmonton Eskimos and B.C. Lions about to produce another thrilling chapter in their intriguing, but somewhat crazy, playoff story?

It would be fitting if tomorrow's CFL West final added more details to the wild and wacky playoff history book these two teams have formed.

For example, the Eskimos have never lost a playoff game against the Lions in Vancouver.

It sound too ridiculous to be true - but it's fact, not fiction.

"Wow," said Eskimo LB Signor Mobley when hit with that fact yesterday.

Added DE Joe Montford: "That's actually one stat I kind of like. Hopefully we can keep this trend going."

Granted, the two teams have only met twice in Vancouver in the playoffs - another crazy fact in its own right - but still, a B.C. football fan has never witnessed a Lions' playoff win at home against Edmonton.

The first Edmonton win in Vancouver came way back in 1959 when the Esks beat B.C. 20-8 in the first of a total point two-game semi-final series.

The only other win came in 1987 when Edmonton completed just five first half passes, but scored three TDs on its way to a 31-7 win.

However, that is just one of many chapters in this playoff story.

The following numbers tell more.

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4 - The Eskimos have won four of the five West finals ever played between the two - and have made a habit of blowing the Leos out of the park.

The Lions only managed to score one point in 1977, losing 38-1.

It wasn't much better in 1986, when they were pounded 41-5.

The next year they lost 31-7.

3 - Believe it or not, three incredible streaks came to an end in 1988 when the Esks lost their only West Division final to the Lions, 37-19.

Matt Dunigan stole the show that afternoon, throwing three TD passes and running for another as inexperienced Edmonton QB Tracy Ham had no answer.

It was the first ever Eskimos playoff loss to the B.C. Lions. Since coming into the league in 1954, the Leos had lost six straight post-season tilts to the Green and Gold.

It also marked the first Eskimo playoff loss at Commonwealth Stadium. The new home to the Eskimos had been open for 11 years and the home team had won eight straight playoff games.

But the most amazing streak that ended that day: it was the first time Edmonton had lost a West final against any opponent at home since 1960, a stretch of 10 games.

2 - Sean Fleming missed two field goals in the 2000 West semifinal at Commonwealth Stadium, as the Eskimos lost 34-32 in the most recent meeting with the Lions in the post-season.

Fleming's last miss of the afternoon came with 58 seconds left from the 29-yard line.

"I went up there very confident I would make the kick," said Fleming.

"At the last second, I didn't trust it or didn't come around like I normally do and left it outside."

It was the story of Fleming's year, as he connected on just 67.3% of his field goals, the second-worst year of his career.

1 - One huge mistake by QB Damon Allen cost the Eskimos the 1994 West semifinal.

With the Green and Gold marching with four minutes left in the fourth quarter, Allen threw an interception on the B.C. four-yard line with Edmonton leading 23-21.

It was an out pass that was practically gift-wrapped for Leos DB Charles Gordon.

"We ran that particular play four times and the way they acted on the other side of the line, I felt they knew it was coming every time," said Edmonton centre Rod Connop.

It was the last pass Allen would ever throw for the Eskimos.

Kent Austin promptly marched the Lions the opposite direction and Lui Passaglia hit a 27-yard game winning field goal with 35 seconds left on the clock to win 24-23.


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