A pair of opening week of thrilling finishes for the most part (sorry Edmonton/Saskatchewan, British Columbia/Calgary, you missed the cut on that) heralded the first week of action for the CFL.
Montreal at Winnipeg
In Winnipeg, the Blue Bomber showed off their new stadium and put on an entertaining home opener for the 33,500 faithful, however, if the script writer had included a Blue Bomber victory, he or she neglected to tell Anthony Calvillo.
The long time CFL icon, may have slowed a step and may not have that same mobility as in the past, but when it comes to football smarts and the ability to lead a drive down the field, there's not a team in the CFL that wouldn't want AC at the helm.
It was through his late game dramatics that the Alouettes crashed the Blue Bomber's party, though they are not alone in the category of teams that AC has crushed at the last minute.
You can review the Als rally from the CFL.ca recap
Hamilton at Toronto
In Toronto, close to 30,000 fans took in the Argos home opener/Grey Cup remembrance celebration, giving hope to Mark Cohon that the Southern Ontario market may yet be salvaged (especially after the pre season Argos game, which saw them evicted from the Rogers Centre destined to Varsity station and a friends and family gathering of 6,204).
Once the Argo boosters celebrated the success of last year they settled in for a preview of a new one and for most of the game probably found much to like (special teams and offence) and a little to worry about (hello defence) oh oh, the kicker is hurt...
The game in typical Argo/TiCat fashion came down to the last minute, an impressive drive by Henry Burris almost snatching victory from the hands of the Double Blue. In fact, Burris was busy celebrating the final play, in thought that he had connected with Andy Fantuz, however, the catch was not made, (we'll leave it to the CSI team to determine if interference may have been warranted) and the Argos took the win. A great advertisement for the season to come, though the defensive unit may find that there's extra work in their future.
The review of the Argos/Cats can be found at CFL.ca
British Columbia at Calgary
The Stampeders at home proved invincible in their home opener, partly a result of the emotional impact of recent events in that city and partly through some serious deficiencies with the Lions defensive unit.
The Lions were picked apart regularly in the first half of their trip to Calgary, the Stamps finding many a hole in the defensive schemes. A fair amount of that success came though the feet of Jon Cornish who picked up a number of huge rambles through the Lions defence.
Between he and Drew Tate's pinpoint passing the Stamps were off to an impressive debut to the CFL season.
The Lions battled back in the second half, Travis Lulay began to gain some pace to his game and brought the Lions closer, but the Stamps built on their first half lead to easily secure the 44 to 32 victory
While the night provided for a good start for the Stamps, it was a rewarding one for the Red Cross as well, the Stamps Jon Cornish had promised 10 dollars for every yard gained on Friday night, with 172 yards on the run and another 20 through the air, the Red Cross will be receiving a nice contribution from the community minded Cornish.
Providing yet more reasons for the Stampeder fans to realize their good fortune to have Cornish in their lineup.
You can review the Lions/Stamps recap here.
Saskatchewan at Edmonton
Depending where you were sitting at Commonwealth Stadium on Friday night, the Riders/Esks game was either a great indication of the year to come, or a cause for concern that the season may be one of yet more rebuilding.
The Riders in Edmonton is almost a home game, the caravan of cars with Saskatchewan plates indicative of the fanatical nature of those that done the Green and White colours. Friday was no exception as a healthy number of Saskatchewan fans watched on with delight as their Riders tore apart an Eskimo team, that clearly is still trying to find its footing after the tumultuous year of Eric Tillman last season.
The Riders had little trouble on their way to a season opening 39-18 victory over the Green and Gold, the offensive unit was clearly in sync as they powered down the field scoring almost at will, the defensive so impressed that they too got in on the scoring
Edmonton who clearly have work to do, provided for the debut of Mike Reilly as their starting quarterback, inheriting the job when Matt Nichols went down in pre season. An unfortunate development for the Eskimos and for some an omen that 2013 may be shaping up to be reprise of 2012.
One thing seems certain from game one, the Esks will need to provide better protection for Reilly, beyond the obvious danger of injury, the Eskimo offence doesn't seem to be able to gain enough time to develop an attack in the face of defensive pressure.
If the Esks don't find a way to provide for some time for receivers to run routes and to push open some holes, the 2013 season is going to be a very long and tiring one for all.
Details on the Esks/Riders review can be found here.