Saturday night’s meeting between the Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Eskimos was a sensational affair. There were many highlight plays, but ultimately Eskimos mistakes and bad play-calling doomed the Eskimos.
With the win, the Stampeders have now won five out of the last seven matchups in this series, including the post-season. The game started fairly slowly as neither team got on the board in the first quarter. Rene Paredes hit field goals from 47, 43 and 42 yards in the second quarter to make it 9-0 at halftime.
Without Greg Ellingson, the passing game of the Eskimos was stagnant in the first half. The stingy Stamps secondary kept everything in front of them and forced Harris to check down routinely. Overall the Eskimos gained just 79 yards in the first half and their ground game was nonexistent.
A Breakthrough through the Air
Edmonton finally got on the board in the third quarter after Calgary conceded the safety on a punt from deep in their own territory to make it 9-2. Then, the Esks hit pay dirt. Harris hit a deep pass down the left side to Ricky Collins Jr. who ran it all the way for six.
The 83-yard reception eclipsed their offensive output in the first half. Tre Roberson blitzed from his cornerback position on the play and Nate Holley couldn’t keep up with the speedy Collins Jr. who scored his first touchdown as an Eskimo.
On the ensuing kickoff, Calgary answered. Terry Williams hit a seam down the left sideline and outran everyone for the score. The Stamps tried for two but were stuffed on a run up the middle to keep the game at 15-9.
The next drive, Sean Whyte came out for a field goal attempt from 35 yards. The kick was wide right. After Edmonton made a stop on the next drive, returner Martese Jackson muffed the punt, which gave Calgary the ball back on the Edmonton side of the field.
Calgary found the end zone again with Eric Rogers catching a jump ball and then taking it in. Once again, the Stamps went for two but Tyquwan Glass intercepted it. The game remained 21-9.
Edmonton had the ball first to start the fourth quarter and they made the most of it. After a stop on second down, a roughing the passer penalty extended their drive.
Two plays later, Harris hit Collins Jr. again for a score, this time on a post route from 26 yards away. Harris placed his throw perfectly after taking a monster hit from defensive lineman Mike Rose. Whyte’s miserable day continued as he missed the ensuing extra point and it remained 21-15.
On the following kickoff, Nick Taylor ripped the ball out of the grasp of Terry Williams and it gave Edmonton the ball at Calgary’s 32. But the Calgary defence stood firm and forced a field goal attempt. Whyte drilled the field goal from 24 yards away to make it 21-18.
After trading a few possessions, Calgary got the ball deep in Edmonton territory after a turnover on downs. With 39 seconds left, Paredes gave Calgary a 24-18 lead with a 27-yard field goal.
With 34 seconds left, Harris got the ball back starting at his own 28-yard line. He drove his team down the field and gave the Esks one last shot for the win. Harris tried to hit Kevin Elliott but he could not come down with it in the end zone.
Harris threw for 373 yards, but it was not enough as he dropped to 0-7-2 against Calgary in his career.
Once again, Eskimos mistakes and bad play-calling held them back. During the first half, they didn’t try very hard to stretch the field and it made the play-calling very predictable.
As good as the offensive line is at pass blocking, their lack of ability in the run game became apparent in this one. With C.J. Gable they have a more than capable lead back, but the line could not open any running lanes and the Stamps didn’t respect the ground game.
When they finally took their shot deep, things began to open up. Not having Ellingson hurt but with Collins Jr. to stretch the field and Kenny Stafford underneath there should be ample opportunity to move the ball for this offence.
I got the feeling watching this game that Harris was pressing, feeling like he had to bail the team out. If that continues, this team will not reach their potential this season.
Whyte, who in the past has been among the most reliable kickers in the CFL, suddenly looks shaky. He looked off-balance in the loss at Montreal and once again looked off tonight.
Ten penalties for 78 yards didn’t help out the Eskimos mistakes either. Being penalized among the most in the league has been a consistent feature of this team under Jason Maas.
One thing for sure is this team has a Grey Cup caliber defence. Kwaku Boateng leads a defensive line that gets after the quarterback as often as any in the league. The defence kept them in the game all night, but Eskimos mistakes and lackluster offensive play caused yet another loss for Edmonton in this series.
Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images