The last time the B.C. Lions were here, they left a lasting impression.
The Edmonton Eskimos would like to forget how Lions slotback Geroy Simon caught the game-winning, 62-yard buzzer-beating touchdown reception.
Everyone in the stadium knew the ball was going to Simon, including the Eskimos defence, but it didn’t make a difference.
If that wasn’t bad enough, he deked out defenders T.J. Hill and Byron Parker, forcing them to collide with one another.
It left a nasty sting, but it’s not something the veteran receiver wants to hang his helmet on when the Lions return to Commonwealth Stadium Sunday (5 p.m., TSN) to open the 2010 season for both teams.
“I know that they’re aware of what happened last year, which everybody is,” Simon said. “I think every year is different. I’m not sure about their schemes, but they’ve changed a lot of their players from last year on defence.”
Simon might still see a target on the Eskimos back, but they’re not the only ones.
“Some things change, some stay the same,” he said. “I just look forward to trying to dominate everybody, not just one team.”
A 12-year CFL veteran, Simon has faced questions over whether he may be losing a step.
“As a 40 (yard-dash) time, I don’t know what he used to run, I don’t know what he runs now,” said Eskimos head coach Richie Hall.
“I just know that he doesn’t get caught and he can run. He’s smart, he’s very deceptive.
“He’s a very effortless runner and all of a sudden he’s up on you, and he’s by you and you don’t’ catch him. You see other people struggling to catch him and it seems like he’s just coasting.”
Combine the receiver with a former league MVP who can get him the ball and the Eskimos face a double-edged sword Sunday in quarterback Casey Printers.
“He’s a very talented individual and he makes big plays year in and year out,” Hall said. “I remember a couple years ago people asked, ‘Is he on the down side?’ and by the end of the year he leads the league in receiving yards.
“He’s their big-play guy and he’s done that year-in, year-out. Our success depends on how well we’re able to control Casey Printers and control Geroy Simon because we know Casey’s going to look for Geroy.”
Their last meeting was in Vancouver to close out the 2009 schedule, when the Eskimos defence held Simon to two receptions for 20 yards after knocking Printers out of the game early.
They held the Lions offence to just 105 passing yards in a 45-13 win to move on to the West Division semifinal, while the Lions were forced to cross over to the East.
“We were able to make them one-dimensional. Casey didn’t finish the game but our defensive line controlled and dominated their offensive line,” Hall said.
“Everything starts up front, I don’t care who you have at quarterback.
“If you’re able to control the line of scrimmage that means you take away the run. Now, all of a sudden you take the comfort zone away from the quarterbacks because they’re dodging and they just don’t get a chance to get into that rhythm.
“That’s one thing that we were able to do, and then at the same time not give up the big play.”