Tiger-Cats pull off stunner

Ticats' Chris Williams escapes the reach of an Alouettes defender last night in Hamilton. (JACK...

Ticats' Chris Williams escapes the reach of an Alouettes defender last night in Hamilton. (JACK BOLAND/QMI AGENCY)

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:12 AM ET

HAMILTON - We should just start referring to them as the all-or-nothing Tiger-Cats.

They rarely seem to stray from that script.

Friday night against the division leading Montreal Alouettes, it was all hands on deck for the Tabbies and all hands were in tip-top form in a season-saving 41-28 win before 23,784 deliriously happy fans.

Normally we would call it a surprising win — last place beats first place usually qualifies — but this season there really is nothing Hamilton can do that can surprise anyone anymore.

They can look like world beaters one week and bottom feeders the next.

Their defence can stymie an Anthony Calvillo on one Friday after seven days earlier making Buck Pierce look like the second coming of six-time CFL MVP Doug Flutie. And that was after Pierce had been out of commission for eight straight weeks.

There really is no figuring out this Hamilton Tiger-Cats team and quite frankly, Henry Burris for one has stopped trying to.

“After that game last week, I just said, that’s it,” Burris said in a jubilant Hamilton locker room. “I was like ‘My job is to throw the ball. Your jobs are to catch it and everybody is owning up to their own responsibilities now.”

Burris didn’t just throw the football. He threw it with surgeon-like precision completing 28-of-32 passes for 326 yards and a career-high-tying five touchdown passes.

As head coach George Cortez said afterward, “Honestly nobody ever expects to be 28 of 32. That’s pretty tough in the backyard against air.”

Even Cortez isn’t prepared to say he has this group figured out, but he’s feeling a whole lot better about them this week than he was seven days ago.

“I don’t think anyone ever figures out a team,” Cortez said. “Maybe they understand them better from time to time. I think what they showed (Friday) is they have a lot of pride in themselves and they wanted to show what happened last Friday night isn’t a true indication (of who they are).”

From Burris’ mastery to a defence that held Calvillo to just 197 yards passing, everything was working in Hamilton’s favour on Friday.

Unfortunately they’ve been in this very spot, as recently as two weeks ago when they hammered the Edmonton Eskimos and weren’t able to carry it over to the following week.

“Right now our status is To Be Continued because until we can come out and do this on back-to-back occasions, we can’t just settle for this,” Burris said. “Right now we’re going to enjoy this win because it sets the direction we want to go but we have to be consistent doing this if we want to make the playoffs.”

Winning at home has come easy to the Tiger-Cats of late. The next step is to take the kind of performance they have shown here at Ivor Wynne the last two times and find a way to get it to a stop away from Hamilton.

“We’ve got to get this win on the road,” Burris said looking ahead to next weekend’s game in Edmonton. “If the situation comes about for us to get in the playoffs, it’s all about every game now. We have to win out. We put ourselves in this position. We have to dig ourselves out.”

Burris spread the wealth pretty evenly on Friday finding both Andy Fantuz and Dave Stala for a couple of majors. Chris Williams had the fifth.

Bakari Grant never did get to work on his touchdown dance but he was the receiver Burris looked for the most on the night, hauling in eight passes for 92 yards.

Even the Hamilton defence, a unit that has suffered the worst of the criticism directed at the Ticats this year seems to be coming around.

Linebacker and team leader Rey Williams says the unit is finally firing on all cylinders and gave his defensive coordinator Casey Creehen full credit for getting it there.

“We had a great mix of pressure, a good mix of zone and a good mix of man,” Williams said. “Creehan really called a great game tonight. My hat is off to him. He just seems more confident with some of the guys we have in there right now.”

But to make believers out of anyone, the Ticats are going to need to put this thing on repeat.

Doing it once is nice and it does wonders to put the latest debacle out of mind, but eventually these Ticats are going to have to follow up a good game like this one with more success.

Until they do that, they’ll remain the all-or nothing Ticats.


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