It was a must win game for the Calgary Stampeders this week in Edmonton and they did just that, keeping themselves in the playoff conversation for now by improving to 2-4 in this shortened season.
Here are my thoughts on what transpired:
Mitchell brings the swagger
Bo Levi Mitchell started this game after missing the last three with a broken leg, and it certainly took him a while to get going, as the first quarter was definitely not indicative of a quarterback that has won 78 of 100 career starts. Throws were off target by several yards, and the offence did not look like what CFL fans are accustomed to from the Calgary pivot.
While it took a while to get going, eventually he found his rhythm throwing for 276 yards, with one touchdown, and an interception that also went for a touchdown the other way.
“I’m not going to make any excuses,” Mitchell said after the game. “It’s on me, I haven’t practiced a lot, and my timing was off.”
Last week Kamar Jorden said that the offence was missing a “confidence” and “swagger” but Mitchell was quick to praise backup QB Jake Maier who scored the game’s first TD in the third quarter on a QB sneak from the two yard line.
“I’m not going to disrespect Jake and say he doesn’t bring that, because he does, but he is more of that kind of silent assassin. He just goes out there and does his job.”
Mitchell also added that his experience in the league allows him to trust his players to go out and make plays, insisting that the change at QB was not the difference in the offence.
And as to the leg?
“Y’all seen that nine yard run!” Mitchell chuckled, before crediting his offensive line for keeping him mostly upright, and saying he “felt like (his) old self.”
Perseverance thy name is Kamar
When Kamar Jorden went down in 2018 with a knee injury, there was a question of whether he could ever recover from it. At the time, head coach Dave Dickenson would not deny it was career threatening, and now Jorden is once again leading the league in receiving yards.
516 yards on the season so far with three touchdowns, including a crucial one in this game to go with his 159 yards on twelve catches.
What a remarkable comeback from a player who has just 38 games played in his seven seasons in Calgary due to circumstance and injury. A true CFL success story, and proof that determination can carry you a long way.
Next level thinking
When the Stampeders got the ball back late in the fourth quarter following their seventh sack of Trevor Harris, with 20 secs left on the Elks 50, there may not have been very many people in the stadium who expected what would happen next.
On the very next play, Mitchell heaved the ball down to Jorden for a touchdown to put the Stamps up by fifteen with the convert to go.
The throw was completely motivated by the twelve point loss suffered by Calgary just a few days earlier. As the two teams play just twice this year, the point differential could end up playing into a potential tiebreaker scenario.
With both Calgary and Edmonton now having two wins on the season and chasing BC for the third playoff spot in the West Division, every advantage may count.
According to Postmedia’s Danny Austin, Stampeders general manager John Hufnagel popped his head into the media lounge after the game to assure those assembled that the play call was all strategic in nature and not an attempt to merely run up the score.
Kamar Jorden may have felt it was a little more personal as he held up a pair of antlers next to his helmet as part of his TD celebration.
Take that to the Banks
Stefan Banks is the new sack leader in the locker room after wrapping up Trevor Harris on four occasions and also collected the Harris fumble that made the last TD possible.
Banks was incredibly humble after the game, even breaking out the old “act like you’ve been there before” chestnut, but his teammate Mike Rose was a little more effusive in his praise.
“Big Banks took a little bank today, I tried to tell you! I told you big Banks was going to take a little bank, because big Banks is a dog. It just took a little time, took a little while longer than I wanted, but big Banks is the man.”
Rose wasn’t done with the nicknames either telling media, “Crustyfoot Shawn Lemon, old man, had a good game too.”
The whole defensive line combined for seven sacks on the day, which was pretty surprising considering the team only had three total in the first five games.
Rose had one of those sacks, and wasn’t penalized for it as he had been previously this season when he executed a textbook German suplex to take down Bombers’ QB Zach Collaros. After the game he credited his jiu-jitsu coach for teaching him more of a judo style takedown to avoid the flag.
Yet another heaping pile of laundry
Another week, another entire field length of penalties for the Stampeders, as twelve infractions went for 110 yards against.
Fortunately for Calgary, the Elks had a similar 12 penalties for a combined 125 yards.
After the game, Stamps head coach Dave Dickenson was pretty blunt about it. “I think you just don’t play the guys if they are going to take penalties.”
Dickenson went on to run down the list of penalties that stuck out for him.
“On the punt (a no yards call), c’mon, we know the rules. The cut block, chop block late, we know the rules. The time counts, that’s just a lack of focus. I thought defensively we played really well and didn’t give them anything, no free money, so credit to those guys.”
Paredes back to automatic
Rene Paredes had a perfect game, going six-for-six on field goal tries, all from outside 35 yards, and making both converts as well.
Despite one falling short against Winnipeg a few weeks ago, the Stampeders kicker remains a model of consistency with only two misses on 22 attempts this year so far.
Given that the Stampeders have attempted the most field goals by a wide margin through week six, having that level of consistency is a comfort compared to what other CFL fans have been dealing with. A miss is a rare occurrence, and there is quite a few other teams who could use the peace of mind Paredes offers when he steps onto the field.
Up next for the Stampeders is a trip to Hamilton to face the Ticats. While games against Eastern Division opponents are rarely a must have, Calgary cannot afford to lose any ground in a very tough West Division and will need to bring home a win to keep their playoff hopes alive.