Leader of the pack

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:24 AM ET

In a game that earned him the CFL's offensive player of the week honours, Kerry Joseph's play against the Montreal Alouettes on Canada Day was a little like his career as a pro quarterback.

It was slow to get going.

From the erratic passes and questionable decision making that had Renegades fans booing the team's most significant player, the 31-year-old from Louisiana who has yet to match his age in number of CFL games started began turning the tide in the last breath of the first half.

MEMORABLE COMEBACK

His two-yard touchdown run a second before the break began one of the great modern-day comebacks the league has witnessed, from a 23-3 hole to a 39-36 overtime victory against what many view as the best defence in the CFL.

"Joseph's efforts on Friday showcased him as a big-time CFL star," the CFL waxed poetically in a release announcing the weekly award winners. "While his team was down for the majority of the game, Joseph held (it) together, even when victory seemed too distant. His leadership was outstanding, especially during the fourth quarter, when his efforts led the team to 23 unanswered points, forcing the game into overtime.

"At times it appeared that his sheer speed was not matched by anyone on the field. His determination on goal-line plays led to three touchdowns (his two, and a third by Cory Hathaway recovering a Joseph fumble near the goal line)."

In the end, Joseph's numbers were quite modest, especially for such a high-scoring and extra-long game. He completed 23-of-36 passes for 302 yards, with only one touchdown toss and one interception. His running -- despite reminding owner Bernie Glieberman of Doug Flutie -- covered just 62 yards on 15 carries.

But the only bottom line Joseph has always insisted he cares about is winning, and his ability to do that against all improbabilities is what made his performance truly outstanding.

'IN COMMAND'

"Just being in command," Joseph said heading into the game, when asked what he likes most about being a quarterback. "I feel God has given me the gift to be a leader. And I think you have to have that quality to be a quarterback. Just having that opportunity to lead these guys into battle."

Joseph had that feeling most of his life. He was a quarterback when he started playing football at age 8 up until McNeese State College, where he started and excelled for four years.

He turned pro as a QB in 1996, attending the training camp of the NFL's Cincinnati Bengals and spending the entire season on their practice roster.


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