Inconsistent. Unpredictable. Injury plagued. Frustrating. Exciting. Disappointing. And now, meaningless.
Any of those terms could be accurately applied to the Ottawa Redblacks’ 2016 regular season.
How else would you describe a team that averaged 27 points per game while conceding on average, 27.7? A team that amassed 414 yards of offence per game (2nd best in the CFL), but that gave up 371 per game to opponents. A team that boasted four 1000 yard receivers but that only scored touchdowns on 16% of its drives. A team that went 6-3 on the road but only 2-5-1 at home. A team that was so devastated by the injury bug that only two players started every game. A team that finished with an 8-9-1 record but atop its division.
Despite their inconsistency, at this point in the year, the wild roller coaster ride that the Redblacks have taken R-Nation on will be completely forgiven (and largely forgotten) if the Redblacks win Nov. 20th’s matchup.
As the team rests up on a bye, awaiting the winner of Sunday’s East Semi-Final between the crossover Edmonton Eskimos and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, let’s take a look back at how the Redblacks got to where they are today.
Game One: 45-37 OT win (in Edmonton)
The Trevor Harris era began much earlier than anyone expected when Henry Burris went down with a torn pinky ligament after throwing for 251 yards and a TD in just over a half of action. Harris’ Hollywood start had him coming off the bench and immediately throwing a 71 yard TD bomb to Chris Williams. Burris and Harris torched the Eskimos for a combined 543 yards and 4 TDs as the Redblacks hung on to win a wild one at Commonwealth Stadium.
Game Two: 28-13 win (in Montreal)
Chris Williams hauled in 7 passes for 187 yards and Trevor Harris threw for 395 yards and 3 TDs, but what this game is best remembered for is when Duron Carter celebrated a TD catch by running through the Redblacks bench, knocking over Head Coach Rick Campbell.
Game Three: 26-26 OT tie (vs Calgary)
The Redblacks finished the night undefeated, but only had themselves to blame for not securing the win. Ottawa squandered numerous opportunities in regulation, such as a failed 2 point convert, two missed FGs, an end zone interception and a fumble on the goal line with a minute left in the game. But worst of all, in overtime, Jermaine Robinson dropped a gift from Bo Levi Mitchell; an errant pass that hit him in the hands.
Game Four: 30-20 win (in Toronto)
Trevor Harris completed 90.3% of his passes and Greg Ellingson had 218 receiving yards, but it took the first return touchdown in franchise history to secure the win. On the play, Tristan Jackson scooped a bouncing ball off the turf, broke half a dozen tackles and raced 75 yards to the end zone.
Game Five: 30-29 loss (in Saskatchewan)
After Trevor Harris twisted his knee while being sacked on the Redblacks’ opening possession, Brock Jensen entered the game and immediately developed chemistry with Brad Sinopoli. Though Jensen finished the night by going 20/29 for 271 yards and 2 TDs, a pair of late pass interference calls cost Ottawa dearly. A questionable flag on Abdul Kanneh led to Saskatchewan’s go-ahead FG, and a non call on a clearly impeded Chris Williams ended the Redblacks’ final drive.
— Andrew Symes (@FailedProtostar) July 23, 2016
Game Six: 23-20 loss (vs Toronto)
With Harris out, Burris declared himself healthy and played, even though he clearly wasn’t. Burris’ inability to properly throw the ball (his pinky finger was taped to his ring finger), led to OC Jamie Elizondo calling more hitch screens than Joe Paopao at the height of the Renegade era. A late Argo interception sealed the win for the Boatmen.
Game Seven: 23-20 win (vs Edmonton)
Despite being without the services of Abdul Kanneh and Jerrell Gavins, led by a monstrous effort from John Boyett, Ottawa’s defence told the Eskimos offence to “Shove it!” as Mike Reilly’s eight game streak of 300 yard passing games came to an end.
Game Eight: 43-19 loss (vs Montreal)
In the midst of his appeal process, Duron Carter not only played, but he silenced the boos with a 126 yard, 2 TD performance. Ottawa’s offence got pushed around, with the offensive line giving up 7 sacks, and the defence made Kevin Glenn look like a Hall of Famer as he shredded the Redblacks’ secondary, completing 83% of his passes for 382 yards and 5 TDs.
Game Nine: 29-23 loss (vs BC)
The return of Trevor Harris failed to spark an offence which only moved the sticks 16 times throughout the night and for the second consecutive week, the defence was porous. With 41 seconds left and on BC’s 45 yard line, Harris’ 3rd down incompletion ended the game.
Game Ten: 19-14 win (in Montreal)
The Redblacks’ defence took advantage of Duron Carter’s absence (finally suspended for knocking over Campbell), limiting Montreal to just 279 yards of total offence. Ottawa secured the win late in the 4th quarter when former Alouette Mitchell White picked off Kevin Glenn.
Game Eleven: 48-23 loss (in Calgary)
Historically, the Redblacks have struggled in Calgary, and this game was no different. Despite managing to pull within 10 at the end of the 3rd quarter, the Stampeders took over in the final 15 minutes, scoring 18 points.
Game Twelve: 29-12 win (vs Toronto)
Brad Sinopoli turned 10 targets into 9 catches for 116 yards, Chris Williams crossed the 1000 yard mark for the 4th time in his career, Jonathan Rose made 6 tackles and an interception, and Jamill Smith took a missed FG back 109 yards for a touchdown.
Game Thirteen: 40-33 loss (in BC)
In one of the most exciting games of the season, Trevor Harris threw for 485 yards yet the Redblacks still wound up losing. Every time Ottawa scored, BC answered right back as they torched the Redblacks’ defence by gaining 9.8 yards per play. 13 seconds before overtime, Anthony Gaitor picked off Harris and dashed 37 yards to the end zone, putting the Lions ahead for good.
Game Fourteen: 32-30 OT loss (vs Saskatchewan)
Hoping to spark a stagnant offence, Rick Campbell looked to Henry Burris in the 4th quarter, and Burris responded magnificently, leading 3 scoring drives, including a touchdown in the final minute to force overtime. Unfortunately for the home team, Chris Milo’s 11th missed FG of the year allowed Saskatchewan to kick a chip shot and easily win the game.
Game Fifteen: 30-29 win (in Hamilton)
The defence generated three 1st half turnovers, Mossis Madu finished the night with 99 total yards, Henry Burris rewarded the decision to start him by throwing for 393 yards and Mark Nelson’s unit held the Ticats to a FG on their final drive.
Game Sixteen: 39-36 OT loss (vs Hamilton)
Antoine Pruneau’s best effort of the season (10 tackles, a goal line interception and 2 knockdowns), and Henry Burris’ 418 yards and 3 TDs weren’t enough to overcome the Ticats. Jeremiah Masoli used his feet and his arm to torment the Redblacks’ defence and Chris Milo missed a convert that allowed the Ticats back in the game.
Game Seventeen: 23-10 win (in Winnipeg)
With their first full, 60 minute effort of the season, the Redblacks cruised to a division clinching victory. The defence forced 5 turnovers, Mossis Madu gave Ottawa its first 100 yard rushing performance of 2016, Brad Sinopoli become the last member of the “Fab Four” to cross the 1000 yard receiving mark and the Redblacks avoided undisciplined play, only being flagged 3 times for 30 yards.
Game Eighteen: 33-20 loss (vs Winnipeg)
With nothing on the line, the Redblacks rested 15 starters in preparation for the East Final. Ottawa’s “B Squad” offence, led by Brock Jensen and Danny O’Brien, was pitiful, and if not for a strong performance from running back Travon Van, this one wouldn’t have been close.
Regular Season Stat Leaders:
Passing: Trevor Harris (242/330 for 3301 yards, 16 TDs and 4 INTs)
Rushing: Mossis Madu (92 carries for 490 yards and 3 TDs)
Receiving: Greg Ellingson (76 catches for 1260 yards and 4 TDs)
Tackles: Damaso Munoz (84)
Sacks: Zack Evans & Arnaud Gascon-Nadon (6)
Interceptions: Mitchell White & Abdul Kanneh (3)
Knockdowns: Jonathan Rose (11)
Forced Fumbles: Aston Whiteside (2)
Starts: Jon Gott & Damaso Munoz (18)