Saturday’s game at BMO Field came to sudden stop early in the second half when Winnipeg’s Brandon Alexander delivered a hellacious hit on Toronto’s DaVaris Daniels.
Nick Arbuckle’s pass sailed over the head of Daniels, who was quickly wrapped up by cornerback DeAndre Alford. Daniels leaned forward, which meant his head was at Alexander’s pad level when contact was made.
I get it’s hard to react quickly as a defensive player.
But standing bolt upright when coming into contact is a recipe for headshots and he sure wasn’t playing the ball. Bare minimum, it’s terrible technique and I give it 0 benefit of the doubt. #CFL
— JC Abbott (@JC_AbbottCFL) August 21, 2021
“The quarterback put [Daniels] in a situation where I had no choice but to hit him in his body area,” said Alexander in a postgame videoconference. “I targeted where I needed to. I hit him pretty hard, but I didn’t hit him in the head or anything. It was just a football play in my opinion. I made sure he was OK — I’m not out there trying to hurt anybody — but I play physical.”
The hit did not initially draw a penalty, though that changed once the play was reviewed by the command centre. Alexander suggested that he received a fifteen-yard roughness penalty not because of the contact, but because Daniels was hurt on the play.
“The ref came to me and told me that it was a clean hit. I knew that it was a clean hit. I’m pretty sure because of how the hit was and the results of it afterwards probably drew the flag. But like I said, I come out here and play football. I’m a physical player. I’ve been here four years now and never once had a dirty play or anything like that. I just come out here and play physical, that’s it,” said Alexander.
Toronto quarterback Nick Arbuckle felt the hit was a “cheap shot,” while head coach Ryan Dinwiddie expressed concern that Daniels may have suffered a concussion. The Argos used the hit as motivation to extend their 22-14 lead, which they did two drives later on a one-yard QB sneak for what were ultimately the game-winning points.
Blue Bombers’ head coach Mike O’Shea was seen on TSN arguing with an official after Alexander was penalized, but declined to comment on the hit after the game.
“I put myself in a good position to make a play and it was a bang-bang play. Like I said, he threw the ball and I saw where my target needed to be and I did as such. I’m not going to change the way I play. I’ll come out there and be as physical as possible and be as safe as possible,” said Alexander.
“Again, I’ve played up here four years and been physical and never once had a dirty play. I really hope that he’s OK. I went over there and touched him and made sure that he felt me after the play. That’s why I threw up my hands after the play — I had all kinds of players coming after me pushing me and stuff like that and I just threw my hands up because I knew it wasn’t a dirty play.”