Sunday, November 21, 2004

The fear of Bashir!

Field position is a most important aspect of Canadian football. With a wider field, a longer field and far reaching end zones to work with every foot, every inch is important.

With that the BC Lions continually put their defence in a hole time and time again on Sunday. The Lions kicking game was a confusing amalgam of pooch kicks, shanked kicks and mis directed kicks all one suspects designed to keep the ball from Bashir Levingston, Arland Bruce and the much vaunted Argo special teams.

But by frequently turning the ball over to Damon Allen on his own fourty five yard line or in BC territory, the Lions made Allen's job that much easier on Grey Cup Sunday. In fact by refusing to challenge the possibly explosive duo of Levingston and Bruce deep in the Argo zone, the Lions may have signaled a subtle sign of disrespect to the Argo quarterback. Instead of hammering the Argos deep into their own end, the Lions would spot Allen the forty yards and dare him to make them pay. Suggesting an arrogance that they believed they could stop him from anywhere on the field.

The payback began in the second and third quarters when the veteran Argo QB took control of the game and took his team to the Lions house in three consecutive possessions. Twenty one points later, the Lions began to kick the ball deep into the Argo end, successfully corralling Levingston and Bruce, but having surrendered too many points early on to overtake the Double Blue.

The strategy no doubt looked good on paper, the Lions defence for most of the season has been a dominant group, frequently invading the offensive zone and disrupting the flow of their opposition. But on this Sunday, the Argos much maligned O line held their own, giving Allen the time to set up the passes that would bring victory to Toronto for the fifteenth time.

The safe play was to avoid Levingston and not tempt the fates of the special teams, but when you play safe you lose your edge. And when you give up field position as much as the Lions did on Sunday you lose football games.

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