Redblacks Head Back to the Promised Land

R-Nation waited 21 years for this. Though it wound up being closer than it needed to be, the Redblacks got the job done, gutting out a 27-24 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and punching their ticket to the postseason. The 22,867 members of R-Nation on hand were rewarded for sticking around in a chilly fall downpour with a clinching win that sends Ottawa to the playoffs for the first time since 1994.


– Ain’t no vibe like an Ottawa game day vibe

– R-Nation is everywhere

– It was pink night at TD Place to raise awareness and funds to tackle women’s cancers

– Another mouth watering burger was unveiled 

– Shortly before kick off, the skies opened up

– Ottawa wins the toss and chooses to receive

1st Quarter:

– The Redblacks fail get off to an auspicious start when the much heralded Reggie Dunn (#3) fumbles the opening kickoff. Following a mad scramble, Winnipeg takes over on Ottawa´s 27 yard line.

– Matt Nichols completes two short passes but both times the receiver is quickly tackled by Antoine Pruneau (#6). Facing 3rd and 1, Bombers HC Mike O’Shea choses to forego the short FG attempt and goes for it. The run is stuffed deep in the backfield when Jovon Johnson (#2) rushes in and blows up the ball carrier.

– Henry Burris (#1) wastes no time in leading Ottawa down the field as the Redblacks go on a 14 play, 92 yard drive. Burris puts on a clinical as he shreds the Blue Bomber´s secondary with crisp passes to Brad Sinopoli (#88), Maurice Price (#7) and Chris Williams (#80). William Powell (#29) caps off the drive by releasing on a wheel route and hauling in a 5 yard TD pass. Following the convert, it´s 7-0.

William Powell; Demond Washington

– Jerrell Gavins (#24) nearly picks off Nichols, but it wouldn’t have mattered as Shawn Lemon (#52) was offside. Winnipeg moves the sticks once before being forced to punt.

– Greg Ellingson (#82) and Powell make back to back 10 and 15 yard catches before Burris scrambles out of trouble for 5. Two catches from Ernest Jackson (#9) pick up 15 and 5 yards but Ottawa is forced to punt when Burris’ 2nd down pass falls incomplete.

– The quarter comes to a close as Ronnie Pfeffer (#15) shanks a punt which only travels 13 yards.

2nd Quarter:

– Pruneau forces a fumble and Brandyn Thompson (#25) swoops in to recover. The Redblacks take over on Winnipeg’s 44 yard line.

– Burris hits Sinopoli, Ellingson and Williams for gains of 1, 18 and 9 yards. On 2nd and short Burris plunges ahead for a fresh set of downs. Powell takes a short pass for a 9 yard gain and Winnipeg goes offside, moving the ball to their 1 yard line, but Jon “Dangerbeard” Gott (#63) takes exception to the dive at his knees and gets flagged for unnecessary roughness, which moves the ball back to the 15 yard line. Sinopoli makes a diving 15 yard TD catch though his efforts are for naught, as an offside flag on Price wipes out the score. Following an incomplete end zone jump ball intended for Ellingson, Ottawa is forced to settle for a 27 yard Chris “Money” Milo (#30) FG.

– On 2nd and long, a massive hit by David Hinds (#20) forces an incompletion and a punt

Nick Moore David Hinds

– Powell shows off his speed and agility, picking up 9 yards on the ground. On the following play he picks up another 13 but a holding flag on Jackson and a clipping call on Gott eliminate the gain and force Ottawa into a 1st and 35. Powell gets half of it back on a screen but the Redblacks are ultimately forced to punt.

– Justin Capicciotti’s (#93) 8th sack of the season sets up a 2nd and long and after Hinds nearly picks off Nichols, the Bombers are forced to punt.

– A 39 yard catch and run from Williams and a 14 yard run from Powell lead to a 13 yard Milo FG that puts Ottawa ahead 13-0.

– Winnipeg goes two and out.

– Ellingson picks up 30 before Powell runs for 2. On the next play, Williams gains 8 but is somehow marked short of the first down marker. Instead of going for it on 3rd and short, HC Rick Campbell elects to let Milo kick a 37 yard FG to make it a 16-0 lead.

– After 30 minutes


– Like Shakira´s hips, these stats don´t lie

3rd Quarter:

– Ottawa kicks off and Winnipeg’s half-time adjustments seemingly work as they go on a 9 play, 67 yard drive that ends with Darvin Adams catching a 5 yard TD pass. Following the convert, it’s a 16-7 game.

– Nolan MacMillian (#66) gets flagged for procedure and a deep shot intended for Williams falls incomplete but the drive is kept alive by grace of a DPI flag on Winnipeg. On the following play, Jackson gets hammered and fumbles.

– Winnipeg fails to take advantage of the turnover when Zack Evans (#92) makes a tackle for a loss before Johnson picks off Nichols.

– Powell powers ahead for 19 on the ground before a 9.9 yard catch from Ellingson sets up a 2nd and short. Burris sneaks ahead for 2 yards before a DPI call on Winnipeg moves the ball down to the 8 yard line. Powell rushes for two and but 2nd and goal Burris gets sacked when a Bomber blitzes in touched. Ottawa adds to their lead with a 22 yard Milo FG.

Henry Burris Khalil Bass

– Mr. Shoe Beer holds his 2nd annual charity Shoe Beer

– The Bombers march down the field but the scoring threat disappears when Abdul Kanneh (#14) makes an end zone interception. Winnipeg challenges for DPI but loses.

– Burris bobbles the snap but manages to recover it in his own end zone. Winnipeg gets the safety to cut the lead to 19-9 and on the ensuing punt, Damso Munoz (#45) blows up the returner and forces a fumble, though the Blue Bombers recover.

– The quarter ends with Moton Hopkins (#95) sneaking into Winnipeg’s backfield and making a tackle for a loss.

4th Quarter:

– Facing 2nd and 12, Johnson makes his third impact play of the night, forcing another Winnipeg turnover by picking off Nichols for the 2nd time.

– Catches by Williams and Jackson and runs by Powell and Burris move the sticks twice but the drive eventually stalls and Ottawa is forced to punt. Pfeffer fakes the fake before kicking, but a flag forces a re-punt and to the amazement (and dismay) of many in R-Nation, Sinopoli is the one who hustles downfield and makes the special teams tackle.

– Winnipeg goes two and out

– Burris hits Jackson for a quick 5 and then draws Winnipeg offside for seemingly the 100th time. 16 and 14 yard catches from Ellingson and Williams set up a 39 yard FG (which Milo makes), but following a holding call, Campbell elects to instead punt. Pfeffer makes his coach look good by nailing a coffin corner punt and pinning the Bombers on their 4 yard line.

– R-Nation never lets a bit of rain get in the way of a good game of Jenga

– The Bombers go two and out

– Taking advantage of the short field, Burris hits Jackson, Price and Ellingson for gains of 3, 25 and 19 yards. On the next play, Powell darts his way into the end zone and following the convert Ottawa leads 26-9.

– Pfeffer’s kickoff bounces into the end zone for a rouge

– Aided by a roughing the passer call on Hopkins, Winnipeg goes on a 7 play, 75 yard drive that finishes with a Nick Moore TD catch. Winnipeg goes for and gets the extra 2 points to trail 27-17 with 1:16 left.

– The Bombers onside kick fails to travel 10 yards so Ottawa gains possession and Winnipeg gets flagged for an illegal kick.

– Two runs from Powell set up 3rd and 3 and instead of punting Campbell chooses to go for it. Unfortunately, Burris’ pass falls incompletion and it’s a turnover on downs.

– Nichols strings together a few completions and aided by an unnecessary roughness flag, Clarence Denmark eventually finds the end zone and with 9 seconds left, Winnipeg cuts the deficit to just 3 points.

– The Bomber’s rally falls short when Ottawa recovers the onside kick.

– Burris kneels twice to send Ottawa to the playoffs and R-Nation into a frenzy.


Final score: 


Key stats:

Burris completed 34/43 for 370 yards and 1 TD

Powell had 12 carries for 69 yards and 1 TD

Williams hauled in 10 passes for 125 yards

Gavins made 9 tackles

Milo was 4/4 on his FG attempts.

Closing Thoughts:

Though the final score will flatter Winnipeg, frankly, this was a game they were never in. Two garbage time touchdowns in the final 1:16 might give the casual observer the impression that the game was close, but in reality, Winnipeg never really challenged the Redblacks.

In what has become a routine day at the office for him, Burris continued to build his MOP case, completing 79% of his passes while hitting 6 different receivers and averaging 8.6 yards per pass. Burris was surgical as he carved up the Bomber’s secondary and if it weren’t for numerous drive killing penalties, the Redblacks 4 FGs could’ve easily been 4 TDs. In addition to getting it done in the air, Burris scrambled or snuck the ball in short yardage situations 8 times, averaging 2.8 yards per carry. The offensive line deserves a ton of credit for getting a solid push all night long and always converting in short yardage. They also did a fantastic job in pass protection, identifying blitzes and providing Burris a clean pocket to step up into. Conceding two sacks on 43 dropbacks is nothing to be ashamed of.

With Jeremiah Johnson (#27) out for the season, Powell stepped in and made sure the running game didn’t miss a beat, averaging 5.7 yards per carry. Powell ran with a strong burst, bouncing off would be tacklers and continually falling forwards. He also managed to be the same kind of dual threat out of the backfield that Johnson was, making 4 catches for 47 yards and a TD. Again, the offensive line deserves props for opening big lanes for him to run through. In particular, RG J’Micheal Deane (#64) had a bounce back game after struggling last week.

As for the receiving corps, late in the 2nd quarter, Chris Williams became the first Redblack in team history to hit the 1000 yard mark. Both Williams and Ellingson finished the game with over 100 yards while Jackson, Sinopoli and Price finished 5, 6 and 3 catches respectively.

Defensively, the final score will reflect that the Redblacks took their foot off the throttle and allowed for an ending that made things much less comfortable than they needed to be. For 58 minutes, Winnipeg had absolutely nothing going. Jerrell Gavins lead the way with 9 tackles and Ottawa added to their CFL leading sack total with a sack from Capicciotti. The Redblacks also generated five turnovers, including a forced fumble, three interceptions and a turnover on downs. Before the game, one time Blue Bomber Jovon Johnson talked about his desire to show up his former team, and he deserves credit for backing up his talk with a tackle for a loss (on 3rd down no less) and two INTs.

In terms of special teams, much was made of Reggie Dunn’s season debut on KR, but after he fumbled the opening kickoff, he was nailed to the bench. Though he had a great game on offense, yet again, Williams had nothing going on punt returns, his longest of the night coming in at 5 yards. On the other hand, the Redblacks did a good job in kick coverage, so most in R-Nation will be okay with that trade off at this point. As for the kicking game, Milo was spectacular and had a perfect night, but Pfeffer’s second go at punting can only be described as disappointing. After shanking his opening punt, Pfeffer settled down but still only averaged 31 yards per punt.

Flags were a big issue for the Redblacks, with the final tally coming in at 16 for 139 yards. Ottawa was sloppy throughout the game and every flag on offence seemed to wipe out positive plays and on defence kept drives alive.

With three games left, Ottawa sits at 9-6 on season and is guaranteed to make the playoffs. Next up for the Redblacks is an away game in Winnipeg before a back to back with Hamilton that will in all likelihood decide who gets to host a home playoff game. At this point, the Redblacks season can be considered nothing but a success, but that won’t stop players, coaches and fans from dreaming about what could be if things shake out well over the next few weeks.


Santino Filoso is originally from Ottawa and has written about the Redblacks since 2013. He is the only CFL writer currently living in Brazil (as far as we know).