What's the deal Maas?

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:04 AM ET

HAMILTON -- The irony was as thick and abundant as the smoke coming from the steel plant in the northern Hamilton sky.

The Jason Maas trade is widely considered to be a key reason the Edmonton Eskimos won the Grey Cup last year. Now, that same Maas deal might be the reason the Esks miss the playoffs in 2006.

In his first game against his old club, Maas played his best game in at least a month.

With pin-point precision in the first half, Maas only threw two incompletions and led the Tabbies to four scoring drives, which was more than enough to beat Edmonton 27-22 last night at Ivor Wynne Stadium.

"It feels just great to win," said Maas.

"It was a lot of fun playing tonight and I am going to have a ton of fun playing in Commonwealth next week."

The Tabbies return to Edmonton on Friday for the rematch. The Eskimos will really need a win as they try to claw their way into the playoffs. At 4-8, Edmonton is still four points out of the post season.

But last night was sweet for Maas, as he rejoiced with fans outside the back door of the Hamilton locker room about 15 minutes after the final whistle.

In typical Maas style, he wasn't totally pleased with his effort, though.

"We didn't play well enough in the second half," he added. "There were just too many breakdowns in the second half for me to be really pleased."

In his defence, the Hamilton offence was missing three key offensive lineman through the final 30 minutes.

The fiery leader finished 15-for-22 for 179 yards and a touchdown. But more importantly, he didn't throw an interception. Regardless of the stats, it's a rare win for Hamilton, which is now 3-11.

"Just our luck," said Edmonton pivot Ricky Ray.

"All week I was kind of thinking that he's probably going to come out and have a good game tonight and he sure did. He made a lot of plays through the air and played a smart football game."

After the game, Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia and Maas embraced on the field.

"He has been through so much and I am happy for Jason, but clearly disappointed with the way we played," said the coach.

But Maas still hopes his former teammates qualify for the playoffs. "After us they have five games and I'm hoping they go 5-0. And if they do that they have nine wins and I'm pretty sure that will be enough to make the playoffs."


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