Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Week Six Review (ending August 6)

Montreal at Toronto

Bringing two losses in a row to town with them, it was probably a little much for Argo fans to be hopeful for the Montreal Alouettes to collect a third and by the time sixty minutes had ticked off the clock at the Rogers Centre, the Als would have turned things around by a score of  36 to 23,  while the Argos must be feeling that sinking feeling of a season slipping away.

Anthony Calvillo went to work like a surgeon on Thursday night, picking apart a Toronto defence that just couldn't get the job of controlling the CFL's pre-eminent QB, surrendering points on the scoreboard and statistics for Calvillo's growing collection of CFL records.

By the time the sun would set on the next day the Argos would have dismissed their defensive coordinator, while the record keepers at the CFL head office were busy updating the numbers for the page recording all time completions as Calvillo added to his legacy year.

The Argos proved to be the tonic for what has ailed the Alouettes over the previous two games, offering little in the way of defensive resistance and struggling again on the offence, highlighting some key weaknesses that will have to be addressed if the Double Blue wish to salvage this season.

For Montreal the win kept them in the hunt for first place with Winnipeg, while it offered up a bit of a gap between the defending Grey Cup champs and a preying pack of Cats from Hamilton.

Week six provides the Als with a challenge as the surprising Edmonton Eskimos come to town Thursday to try and get back on their winning track, the Argos face down their Ontario rivals the Tiger Cats in Hamilton on Saturday.

Toronto Sun-- Argos coach Barker makes wrong decision - again
Toronto Star-- Calvillo's record breaking night breaks Argos
Canada.com-- Alouettes make quick work of rudderless Argos
Globe and Mail-- Calvillo sets all time completions record in Alouettes victory
National Post-- Argos fire defensive co-ordinator Garber

Edmonton at Winnipeg

The most anticipated game of the new season didn't let anyone down, as the undefeated Edmonton Eskimos brought their entertaining brand of football into Winnipeg for a match with the equally surprising Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Not surprisingly, the way that the season has gone so far, Friday Night Football's opening act for the week provided some serious smash mouth defensive football, a hard hitting match up with the punishing Blue Bomber front four finding success inside the Eskimos offensive zone time and time again.

It was the kind of hard hitting battle that met with loud approval from the sold out Canad Inn Stadium crowd,  as they watched the local side send the Eskimos down to their first defeat of the 2011 season by a score of 28 to 16.

For Winnipeg fans, the game despite the ferocity on the field offered up a positive development as the Bombers quarterback Buck Pierce, took more licks and still was able to complete the game, always a worrisome thing of late, Pierce who at times had to scramble to keep a play alive, managed to avoid the kind of hits that have sent him to the sidelines in previous games.

In fact, such was the ferocity of the Winnipeg defensive corps, that Kavis Reed might have been having his own worries for his starting quarterback Ricky Ray, who while still playing well, didn't have the time required in this game to set up some of the highlight reel plays that the Eskimos have showcased in weeks past.

Instead, it was a strong game from the Bombers on defence, combined with timely offensive drives that secured the victory.

The Eskimos journey back to the win column  won't get any easier in week seven, as the Als await Edmonton's arrival at Molson Stadium on Thursday,  Winnipeg can seek to keep that winning groove going when they travel to BC to take on the Lions.

Winnipeg Free Press-- Third quarters belong to Blue
Winnipeg Sun-- Fear Big Blue
Edmonton Journal-- Green and Gold ponder first loss of 2011 season
Edmonton Sun-- Esks win streak snapped
Globe and Mail-- Blue Bombers beat Eskimos in battle of CFL leaders
National Post-- Bombers hand Eskimos first loss
Canada.com-- Bombers making most of halftime adjustments

Saskatchewan Roughriders at British Columbia Lions

The big story of the week in BC was the arrival of Arland Bruce III to the Lions Den, but it was an old reliable name that was on the minds of BC fans by the time Friday nights double header night cap was complete.

Thanks to the always sure hands of Geroy Smon, the BC Lions collected their first win of the 2011 season, a 24 to 11 victory over the struggling Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Simon who hasn't been used as much as many Lions fans would like to see, was clearly int he spotlight on Friday as he reeled in a number highlight reel style passes from Travis Lulay and provided some scoring punch for an anemic Lions offence of late.

For Saskatchewan the questions continue to pile up, with no explanations handy as to why last years Grey Cup finalists can't seem to find the end zone, let alone the win column, Darian Durant clearly is missing some of the key assets of last year such as Andy Fantuz, but even more disconcerting for Rider fans is the struggles the defence is having in keeping the other team off the score board week after week.

The loss puts the Riders at the bottom of the CFL West now, ceding bragging rights for the week to the Lions who while having an equal record of 1-5, do have that all important victory in hand over the Riders now.

Neither squad is clearly ready to challenge the Eskimos or Stampeders in the West and much work will be required in both Vancouver and Regina to try and bring the season back as quick as possible.

The Lions find that challenge with a visit by the high flying Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Saturday, while Saskatchewan returns home to take on the Calgary Stampeders as the feature attraction on Friday Night Football.

Vancouver Province-- Geroy Simon lifts BC Liuons' sputtering offence to win over Saskatchewan...
Vancouver Sun-- Good Grief, there's finally some relief
Regina Leader Post-- Riders' slide continues
Globe and Mail-- Lions earn 1st victory of the season, beat Roughriders 24-11
National Post-- Lions top Roughriders for first win
Canada.com-- Lions snap losing streak at expense of Roughriders

Hamilton at Calgary

The Stampeders finally gave the home town crowd something to go home happy about, as they claimed their first home game win with a nerve wracking 32 to 20 decision over the Hamilton Tiger Cats.

Calgary which has struggled at home through July, finally got their A game on a roll, as Henry Burris showcased those spurts of success that give Stamps fans hopes for a return to form for their hometown cowboys.

Calgary started out the weekend finale with some impressive offensive flashes, but quickly surrendered some of that ground as the Tiger Cats battled back to take a half time lead of  20-13, no doubt leaving a few of the McMahon Stadium crowd thinking here we go again.

However, whatever was said in the locker room at the half, the Stamps defence came out blazing, shutting down the Ticats completely in the third, while the offense took over the game with a solid rushing game that provided for key touchdowns and growing sense of momentum for the Stamps.

And while it was still a close game going into the final minutes of the fourth, the Cats couldn't claw their way back into the Stampeders end zone when it was required and the Stamps held off some late charges to secure the win.

The win while ugly perhaps at times, will continue to boost the Stamps confidence in the West, as the division shakes out through the first six weeks into a Battle of Alberta for the top two spots and a runners up competition between the equally ineffective Lions and Riders.

To that end the Stamps can add to the Riders miseries this week as they take on Saskatchewan at Mosaic Stadium on Friday Night,  Hamilton will hope to regroup on Saturday when they host the struggling Ontario rivals the Argonauts.

Calgary Sun-- New Canadian Air Force
Calgary Herald-- Stamps topple Tiger Cats for first home win of season
Hamilton Spectator-- Ticats put up a doughnut in second half
Globe and Mail-- Stampeders earn first win at home
National Post-- Stampeders stilfe Ticats in first home win
Canada.com-- Stampeders' home cooking finally results in victory

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