EDMONTON - It turns out the Edmonton Eskimos needed more than 60 minutes to win in regulation on Friday.
But there was nothing regular about their 26-25 victory over the Toronto Argonauts.
In a game where every single point mattered, the Eskimos were given a second life as officials put 1.5 seconds back on the clock prior to halftime.
It was all backup quarterback Kerry Joseph needed to punch the ball across the goal-line and pull within two points of the Argos, who were called back from the locker-room after the whistle initially blew to end the second quarter.
“It was crazy. The first one I fumbled, I was lucky they were offside,” said Joseph, who is regularly brought in in place of Ricky Ray in one-yard situations.
Joseph was denied the touchdown on first and second down before time appeared to expire. But further review led officials to put time back on the clock as Joseph’s knee was ruled down with 1.5 seconds left.
“So we got two more chances at it and that last one, when the ref put a little bit of time on the clock, we figured we could go to the weak side on them and I was able to get the ball in,” said Joseph, who leapt the line to push the ball into the end zone and close the gap, 17-15, after trailing by 16 points. “I felt them going down, submerging, so I decided to go over the top and I had to get in because on the one-yard line, we knew we had to get into the end zone.”
The third time was the charm.
“The challenge for them was to go get it,” said Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed. “I wasn’t going to settle for a field goal there, either we were going to get a touchdown or we were going to go into the half 8-17.
“I wanted to see our resolve to get it. Kerry had absolute confidence that he was able to get it and we got it.”
The play was just one instance where questionable decisions by the officials led to a call that directly led to points being put on or taken off the board, as a pair of pass-interference penalties against the Argos ended up in touchdowns for Edmonton, while a potential touchdown by Eskimos slotback Fred Stamps was ruled incomplete — despite video evidence to the contrary — late in the game.
But the Eskimos took it all in stride on their way to a 5-0 record.
“(Toronto) did a good job up front,” said Joseph. “They’ve got a good defensive front, so they got a good push. Luckily we were able to overcome and get it in.”
Friday’s game was the first one Joseph had a direct hand in helping win since joining the Eskimos midway through last season.
But the CFL’s 2007 Most Outstanding Player said he is happy to contribute however he is called upon.
“We are in this together as a team. It’s not about one person on this team,” said Joseph, 37. “You could see how the guys continued to fight throughout the whole game and in the end we were able to get a win against a good football team.”
And one that dropped to 1-4 on the season, despite providing the toughest challenge the 2011 Eskimos have faced yet.