If you were wearing black and gold, Sunday was a wonderful day. The Ticats jumped out to an early lead, played smothering defense and left Tim Hortons Field victorious once again, this time by the score of 38-8 over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
It was far from a perfect game from the men of Tigertown, but the team capitalized on enough Winnipeg mistakes to put them away early and cruise to a 30-point win.
Here are some of the things to like and dislike about Hamilton’s winning performance.
I am not sure if I have ever seen a five-minute stretch in any game as lopsided as the one that occurred in Hamilton’s win yesterday. In less than 300 seconds, the Ticats returned an interception for a touchdown, blocked a punt, got a touchdown on the next play when Zach Collaros hooked up with Bakari Grant, recovered the ensuing kickoff when the the Bombers returner allowed the ball to bounce into the hands of Ticats linebacker Jonathan Langa, and finished things off with another touchdown pass four plays later, this time from Collaros to offensive line Ryan Bomben — FAT GUY TOUCHDOWN! — to take a 21-0 lead. While games are never over with 7:45 left in the first quarter this one sure seemed over. It was as impressive of a stretch as any I have ever seen. The Ticats scored 21 points on 49 yards of offense. Just amazing.
Speaking of amazing, Emanuel Davis, who turned 26 on Sunday, had himself one hell of a birthday, opening and closing the scoring with a pair of pick-sixes. Davis also scored a touchdown off an interception in the first meeting with the Blue Bombers back in Week 2. Most players don’t get three pick-sixes in their careers, and rarer is two in one game, but Davis did just that. The birthday boy probably celebrated pretty hard last night after being a major part of the Ticats getting their fourth win of the season.
While I could praise the entire defense for holding Winnipeg to just eight points, specific attention needs to be paid to the defensive line, especially ends Justin Hickman and Eric Norwood, and tackle Ted Laurent. Those three combined for seven sacks, with Norwood and Laurent nabbing two a piece and Hickman getting the hat trick. Laurent continues to play at an all-world level, but it was nice to see Norwood and especially Hickman pick things up. Those three were getting pressure all game and if the Ticats can use their excellent front four to disrupt things, limiting the need to blitz, this defense could get even better, which should be a scary thought for the other eight teams.
One of the biggest flaws of this Ticats team so far in 2015 has been their astronomical penalty numbers. They averaged a league-leading, in a bad way, 14.6 penalties per game entering Sunday’s contest, which is an amount they cannot sustain and hope to be successful. So it is with much happiness that I see that Hamilton took just six penalties against the Blue Bombers. Sure, there was a killer one that took another Brandon Banks punt return touchdown off the board, but all in all, the Ticats played a clean game. Hopefully the single-digit penalties continue from here on out.
The second half offense was… woof. The Ticats were gifted great field position early on, which allowed them to get out to the big lead that the Bombers were never able to overcome, but once the first half neared an end and especially after the second half began, the offense just seemed to go into a state of lethargy. They were unable to sustain any drives, giving up two sacks right before halftime and another three in the second half, while Collaros tossed two interceptions and the Ticats offense produced zero points over the games final 30 minutes. For this game, it wasn’t a problem, but hopefully we never see the team’s offense play that poorly in the second half again.
It was a solid win for the Ticats. They used mistakes by the Bombers to stake themselves out to an early lead and essentially cruised the rest of the way. It wasn’t a perfect outing, but it did not have to be. The Ticats did what they had to do to secure the win, and in the end that is all that matters.
With the victory, the Ticats are back in first place in the East, tied with Ottawa and Toronto at 4-2, are on a three game winning streak, and are still undefeated at Tim Hortons Field, running their mark to 9-0 at their new digs.
The Ticats will try to keep their streaks going when the BC Lions pay a visit to Tim Hortons Field on Saturday. The Ticats won the previous meeting in Hamilton against a Lions, a 19-17 win last October, which saw the Tabbies win despite not scoring a touchdown and getting five field goals from Justin Medlock. The Lions will attempt to become the first visiting team to leave Tim Hortons Field with a win, while the Ticats will try to up their undefeated mark at home to 10-0.