The hardiness of Edmonton Elks fans is not to be questioned; especially after a game on a Thursday night which featured a near one-hour rain delay and in which their team got stomped 49-6 by the provincial rival Stampeders.
Credit where credit is due, the ones who stayed to the end of this one should have been handed a Medal of Valour at the exit gate.
As to how this game ended up going so well for Calgary — and was such a disaster for the still winless at home since the name change Elks — here is what I saw from the comfort of a dry living room.
Mitchell on target
Bo Levi Mitchell continues to sparkle in this balanced Calgary offence, as he collected 279 yards on 17-of-22 passing attempts with two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
What was even more impressive is that number was collected before the third quarter ended and the score provided the Stampeders with the opportunity to put Jake Maier in as a luxury rather than as a necessity.
Mitchell credited Stamps head coach Dave Dickenson with how the team is performing right now offensively.
“I think Dave is on his game. Being a quarterback is fun when your play-caller is really on his stuff and I think Dave is really on his bag right now,” Mitchell said post-game.
Of the five incompletions for Mitchell on the night, one was intentionally thrown out of bounds to avoid a sack, two were overthrown, and the other two were dropped by the intended target.
It’s all about balance
Mitchell added that being on the same page with Dickenson is what has the Stampeders on top of every category of individual offensive statistics this season.
Credit to Danny Austin from Postmedia for tweeting this during the game, but currently Mitchell leads the league in passing yards, Ka’Deem Carey leads in rushing yards, and Malik Henry is tops in receiving yards.
Granted the B.C. Lions have played three games versus Calgary’s four and so those leads may evaporate by the end of the weekend but as of this writing, all three are on top.
Peyton Logan continued his stellar play as the second running back in the Calgary offence.
Logan got the ball just five times in the backfield but picked up a total of 45 yards and added a 21-yard touchdown where he seemed to get in the endzone without much trouble.
His best play of the night was a 10-point Stampeders’ swing as he returned a missed field goal from 12 yards deep in the endzone all the way for a touchdown, giving him 196 all-purpose yards in the game.
“Not gonna lie, probably one of the easiest reads of all time,” Logan said of the big return. “When I caught it, no one was in front of me, so I just took the space and ran.”
Interestingly, Logan wasn’t even supposed to be on the field at the time, as the regular returner in that spot is Malik Henry. Logan apparently asked Henry if he could go instead.
“He was like, ‘You better go score’ and I was like, ‘OK!’ so when I caught it I did what he told me to do, and I went to go score,” Logan recalled.
Logan isn’t exaggerating either, as no Elks player ever got within five yards of him on the run. Someone should let Edmonton know that no-yards is only a penalty before the returner has the ball…
Yard hungry? Oh Henry!
Speaking of Malik Henry, he has taken full advantage of his role in the last two games against Edmonton.
After torching the Elks for 173 yards before heading to the bye week, Henry came out in the back half of this Stampeders’ home-and-away and did it again. He amassed 150 yards on six catches, including an 89-yard catch and run no-doubter touchdown.
Make that back-to-back games where Henry has put up more yards than he did in his entire 2021 rookie campaign.
With Reggie Bagelton and Kamar Jorden getting extra attention defensively, Henry is benefiting from the idea that you can’t double everyone and caught all six of his targets.
Ka’Deem Carey continues to shine
It says something about how the game went for the Stampeders that I am just getting to Ka’Deem Carey now, despite the running back taking 12 carries for 104 yards on the ground and adding another 24 through the air.
Carey has looked great in every game and is running behind a road-grading offensive line that are opening substantial holes for him to scamper through.
His night was slightly marred by a lost fumble, his first of the season, and an incompletion on an open touchdown throw in the first quarter that fell off of his hands led to a Paredes field goal.
“I’m going to give Ka’Deem (expletive) for not catching that first one,” Mitchell said after the game, before chuckling. “We’ve never thrown it in practice, but Dave says, ‘You never know, it might happen’ and the one time it does…”
Carey rebounded from those errors to post a solid stat line, so I can’t imagine there will be too much actual grief headed his way for the missed pass.
A rare miss
Rene Paredes missed a field goal attempt in this game which is in and of itself notable, but it ended a streak of 30 straight made regular-season attempts dating back to October of last season.
Paredes is now the owner of three of the five longest streaks of all time at 39, 32, and 30 consecutive makes and has moved into sole possession of 11th place on the all-time scoring list with 1,799 points in his career. Next up to enter the top 10 is Bombers’ legend Trevor Kennerd with 1,840.
Don’t forget to say Grace
Consider this my Cody Grace section of the week and expect to see it frequently, as the Global punter is the best in the league at what he does.
Grace played in his first game of the season after an injury kept him out of the first three weeks of action and he stepped up to hang three punts for a total of 129 yards with a net of 113.
There was one at the end of the first half that crossed the goal line, but it was seemingly an intentional ploy to try and get a single as time was expiring.
Grace’s punts were all high and hanging, giving the Stamps’ cover teams more than enough time to get down and cover the ball.
Judge, jury, and executioner
Switching to the defensive side of the ball, there were several players who made an impact for the Stampeders, but perhaps none more so than Cameron Judge, who is flourishing next to Jameer Thurman.
The National linebacker recovered two fumbles in this game, including a 63-yard scoop and score in the fourth quarter that salted away a game that was already done and dusted.
That added to the six total tackles to lead the team and a quarterback sack. Judge certainly had a night to remember.
The Canadian is also leading the team with three turnovers and 23 tackles on the season so far.
Judge’s touchdown was just the third defensive score in the league so far this season and he edged teammate Titus Wall for the longest of the year.
One bad drive
There was one rough moment for the Stampeders where they gave up back-to-back sacks followed by the aforementioned Rene Paredes miss.
Those sacks represented just the third and fourth given up by the Stamps’ offensive line through the first four games of the season, doubling their previous total.
The Stamps lost 18 yards, moving back from a chip shot to what ended up as a missed attempt.
The team would benefit from a safety on the ensuing series but it was the one moment where the Stamps looked shaky and at the time, the game was very much in doubt, tied at three.
The Stamps would also lose two fumbles through the game, which could have cost them against a different club.
Several Stampeders stressed post-game that they need to root out the mistakes and focus on fixing them, noting a win of this kind can mask some bad football.
Clearly, the Stampeders are fully aware of what is to come, as a home and home with the two-time defending champion Bombers is up next. Those two games could shape the story of the West Division title should either team be able to sweep.
In an odd twist of the schedule, both the Edmonton back-to-back and the upcoming Winnipeg double-header feature a Calgary bye in between while the other teams play another game in the interim.
The second Winnipeg versus Calgary matchup begins a stretch of nine straight weeks without a bye for the Stamps.