The Calgary Stampeders’ season could have been over.
A pair of games against a team three games ahead of them in the standings could have turned a season from bad to disastrous.
Lose both and it would have been next year territory in Cowtown for the first time since 2004.
Instead, the Stampeders gutted out back-to-back wins and have drawn themselves within one game of hosting a home playoff game in late November.
All of a sudden this season is not only viable, but is trending in the right direction.
Here are the reasons why the Stamps won in Mosaic, silencing 27,964 fans in attendance and the millions, and millions world wide.
Let me get that Mr. Carey
“I came to the locker room and untied his shoes for him. I said (that he) carried us on his back, so I brought him over and untied his shoes for him. If that tells you anything, it’s how amazing he is.” Bo Levi Mitchell said when asked about Ka’Deem Carey and his 20 carry, 109-yard performance in this game.
Carey was slashing and dashing through the Riders’ front seven with consistency throughout the game on his way to career highs in carries, touches, and combined yards with 178 total yards as he added five catches on six targets for another 69 yards.
Carey had an ear-to-ear smile after the game when speaking to his increased workload and if he’d be bringing up his success this week in team meetings. “Coach is a great coach, man; so I just let him do his thing, let him put his game-plan together and all I can do is show coaches what I got. So after this performance, I hope he leans to me a little bit more. I hope to get the same amount of touches moving forward. I won’t be going into his office to demand anything, but the film shows.”
If the offensive line and Carey can continue to perform like they did in Saskatchewan, Calgary’s offense suddenly looks substantially more dangerous.
Hunchak can (hun)chuck it
When Colton Hunchak was drafted last overall in 2019, a lot of the coverage made note of his attending the Dave Dickenson Passing Academy as a Calgary youngster.
Hunchak must have held onto some of those old playbooks as he fired the ball 36 yards downfield to Josh Huff for a crucial chunk of real estate late in the game.
“I put it in, I thought it might work. Most of the time, people don’t do those things to the left becasue it’s way harder to throw left handed so if you have a guy that’s a lefty, you can sell it a little bit better.” Stamps head coach Dave Dickenson said about the play while also noting that he thought the Riders D “didn’t bite that hard.”
The drive would end with a Bo Levi Mitchell interception near the goal line, one of two picks on the day for the Riders, but the pass did get the Stamps deep into Saskatchewan territory and the defense would force a two and out to get the ball back.
Emotional kick for Paredes
Just before he stepped up to kick the game winning field goal, Rene Parades took a moment to relax his breathing and focus, just like his friend Dr. Frank Lodato taught him to do.
Dr. Lodato passed away at the age of 95 on Friday morning and Paredes didn’t shy away from speaking to the impact Lodato had on his career.
“He’s one of the guys that’s been there for my whole career. He’s helped me out. He taught me how to be a pro in the psychological part of football; how to stay focused, and little things like that. I talked with him last week. Ten years in a row, never missed a game. Today was the first one. So the game winning kick, I had to hit it. Not just for the team, but for Dr. Frank.”
Dr. Lodato is credited with working with many Stampeder legends over the years including players like Allen Pitts, Dave Sapunjis, Mark McLaughlin and Danny Barrett, as well as the Boston Bruins during their 2011 Stanley Cup run.
Silencing the doubters
Following the game against Hamilton where Bo Levi Mitchell may have put up one of his worst career performance and after pulling himself from the game last week in Calgary for shoulder soreness, Mitchell has a solid, but not perfect outing.
The two interceptions marred what was an otherwise good effort that saw the Stampeders moving the ball very effectively against the Saskatchewan defense, totaling 449 total yards.
The amount of injuries Mitchell has had this year that have kept him from practicing are starting to see their cumulative effects fall away in this recent stretch. More chemistry continues to develop and the Stamps continue to look more solid on offense.
Once again this week, seven different receivers were targeted on the day and Markeith Ambles used a 71-yard TD on the first play from scrimmage to spark himself to the highest yardage total, the fourth straight game where a different pass catcher has led the way for Calgary.
Pressure coming down on you
For the second straight week, Riders QB Cody Fajardo was chased out of the pocket and made to feel uncomfortable all night long, with Mike Rose sacking Fajardo twice.
The added element of defensive pressure is making a massive difference for the Stampeders defense in shutting everything else down.
Also helping was the Stamps offense staying on the field in the second half and winning the time of possession by more than six minutes despite losing the turnover battle 3-0.
Stampeders linebacker Jameer Thurman, still somehow underrated outside the 403 area code despite returning from the NFL this offseason, believes the turnovers will happen.
“The only thing that we don’t have to show for it is turnovers. We are shutting teams down, we are barely giving up touchdowns, we are flying around the field. The only thing is turnovers aren’t in our favour right now but they are coming. We know that as a group and we are fighting to get those as well.”
The Stamps are now -11 in the turnover ratio department and have allowed 66 points off of turnovers while only scoring 33 themselves.
Considering that through nine games that Stamps are just +2 in total points for and against, that discrepancy is staggering.
No rest for the trailing
Calgary had a bye week to prepare for this home-and-home, but a quirk in the schedule has Calgary facing the Lions and Riders in their next two matchups, both of whom will be coming off of their respective bye-weeks.
Win next week and suddenly the Stampeders are in the Western playoff picture.
Win the next two and you get the keys to the driver’s seat for the West semi-final.