A hit for fans everywhere and other points to ponder in Lions’ win

It wasn’t a result likely heard around the world but there was a hit that will resonate with fans everywhere….some points to ponder after the B.C. Lions beat the Montreal Alouettes 22-10 Saturday.

Selling hope: So much of what the Lions needed to show Saturday centered around the changes to the game of Jon Jennings, who couldn’t deliver a four-interception egg in his 2018 debut if he wanted to have any hope re-establishing the confidence of the Lions fan base this year.

Jennings was by no means brilliant. The Lions will have trouble staying with the rest of the West Division if the offence turns in similar outings. It was, however, perhaps one of the more efficient, 182-yard passing performances turned in by Jennings, who got a bit of traction offensively roughly around the same time the Lions tightened on defence and began to win the field position battle on special teams.

Biggest reason for optimism of all, however, was that Jennings was not only decisive with his throws, a hopeful development for a guy who threw 19 interceptions and not one Saturday, but was also decisive using his feet to extend plays.

“I think that’s the word: Decisive,” Jennings said after the game. “If I feel pressure, if I feel the need to, go. Don’t mess around. Take off. When you’re indecisive messing around, that’s how you get sacked.”

When the Lions had a chance to bury the Als after a Garry Peters interception gave the offence their best field position all night, Jennings was at his decisive best with a commanding touchdown throw to Cory Watson that also continued a very promising early trend of producing points off turnovers.

No oil painting against a well-coached Als defence that might not look any different this year offensively under Drew Willy than it did with Darian Durant, but enough to establish some positive roots.

Best laid plans: There often are reasons why teams are so reticent to provide information when trying to form a roster out of training camp and a couple of injuries to a pair of Lions regulars prior to the Montreal game provided another illustration why coyness sometimes is a proper course.

It was difficult during the practice week, for example, to determine whether Lions receiver Shaq Johnson would be ready to play when he went down hard during one drill after a teammate stepped on his ankle.

Both Johnson and coach Wally Buono initially didn’t think the receiver would recover in time but through the use of a compression therapy machine he was ready to go. Johnson gave the Lions a needed spark when he caught a touchdown pass from Jennings on their second offensive possession.

Similarly, defensive back Winston Rose didn’t think he was going to play either. However, when teammate Keelan Johnson tweaked a hamstring in the warmup, Rose was given a uniform. Rose ended up being a huge addition to the lineup, rotating at wide-side cornerback when Marcell Young experienced calf cramping issues.

Without Rose, who got into four games last year in Ottawa, the Lions would have had to finish up with a player far less experienced. Now the Lions have a bye week to ask themselves whether they have enough experience to get them through games in the event of a repeat occurence.

Want to act stupid? Be prepared: Young may have been among those who contributed to an abysmal start by the defensive secondary in Saturday’s opener but a play he made that would probably have been cut out of the review tape was kind of thing that can be a motivator for a defence.

Never mind the fact that what Young did when he clocked a nutbar who felt compelled to run around the field at B.C. Place Stadium without any pants was a hit for every player and sane fan around the world who wants this nonsense stopped. It was also a flashback for a guy in the stands who remembered doing the same thing once upon a time.

“I was ready for the game to keep going and he was holding it up. I had a chance and I just went for it,” said Young, who nailed the lunatic squarely with his shoulder pad, forcing him to remain on the ground for several seconds. “The security guard couldn’t catch him so I slowed him down.”

Thing is, as has almost always been the case at B.C. Place Stadium, the security guard who ambled onto the field made almost no attempt to put the matter to a halt quickly, understanding perhaps that it is almost impossible for someone not as athletic as a CFL player to catch a fool who doesn’t want to be caught in an open field.

But could security at least try to put these guys away more quickly? This is so 1980s and doesn’t wear well with the Lions, who already suffer from too many people staying away because they incorrectly think games are nothing more than an invitation to start fights in the stands. Perhaps Young has a side job in his future in security.

“I should look into it,” he deadpanned.

Watching all this unfold was a guy who came to the game to be honoured for five years of unparalleled service as the Lions wide-side cornerback who could vividly relate to Young’s heroics.

With seven seconds left in an embarrassing Lions divisional semifinal loss in 2002 in Winnipeg, Eric Carter tackled another nutjob in an attempt to end a game in which his teammates were pelted by snowballs, and by the Blue Bombers. A few feet away, teammate Carl Kidd repeatedly kicked a second unruly fan who got onto the field and was left to take care of business because security wasn’t either trained to handle such a problem or the group is insufficiently staffed.

Carter and Jamie Taras were inducted into the Lions Wall of Fame Saturday and for a few moments both must have felt as if they were in a time warp.

Lowell Ullrich has covered the Lions since 1999 and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He is also a contributor to TSN1040.