They say it’s hard to beat a team three times in a season but apparently once you get over that hump, the fourth win is a cakewalk.
For the fourth time this season — fifth if you want to include their preseason matchup — the Calgary Stampeders beat the Elks by at least a converted touchdown. In this case, it was by four converted Tommy Stevens’ QB sneaks as they took home a 56-28 victory over an Edmonton team that saw its home losing streak extend to 1057 consecutive days.
Here’s what I saw from my various vantage points at Commonwealth Stadium:
Touchdown vulture Tommy Stevens
In fantasy football, a “vulture” is a player that no one puts into their starting lineup but ends up scoring a touchdown. If you were to draw a picture of Tommy Stevens’ performance in Edmonton, it would have been four vultures feasting on the remains of the Elks namesake mascot.
Stevens would score a quartet of short-yardage touchdowns as a part of his 29 rushing yards on 10 carries. Get ready for the CFL to have you voting for the Stampeders’ third-string quarterback as a performer of the week!
“[Stevens] is strong and he works incredibly hard in the weight room,” Stampeders’ head coach Dave Dickenson said following the game. “I feel like Tommy is one of the toughest guys in the league to stop right now from one yard. It wasn’t like they laid down; they were coming at him but he was able to score. Each time I called it, I was more and more confident that we’d be able to get in.”
Starter Jake Maier marvelled at his teammate’s production post-game, recalling what it was like when he was the Stamps’ short-yardage specialist.
“It’s a war in there. Looking from the sideline, or even watching on TV, I don’t think people quite understand what that environment is like in the trenches like that,” he said. “I want to say it was the third or fourth touchdown where they knew it was coming and we ran it three times in a row, and him being six-foot-five and 260 pounds, that’s a load man. That’s tough to stop and it’s just will on will.”
“It couldn’t happen to a better guy,” Maier continued “He’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever had. I love the guy.”
Four TDs are nice, but the block!
Staying with Tommy Stevens, it was very late in the fourth quarter when Stevens handed the ball to running back Ka’Deem Carey, who broke to the outside and ended up with a 40-yard touchdown scamper.
The key to the run was Stevens throwing a huge block on the last defender with a chance to stop the Stampeders’ running back.
The sideline exploded.
“That lifts up a football team like you wouldn’t believe. It was one hell of a play. Whenever a play like that happens, everyone can’t wait for the next day to watch it on film. I can guarantee you when we are in film, the place is going to go nuts,” Maier said with a very big smile on his face.
“It’s just one of those character plays. It’s so unselfish. He’s been in situations all year where it’s, ‘Go get us a yard, get us a yard, get us a yard’ and now over halfway through the season he’s scoring four touchdowns and he’s laying blocks for guys like Ka’Deem late in the game. It’s just unselfish. Guys who are unselfish get rewarded, and tonight was about him and how valuable he is for us.”
For his part, Stevens said despite scoring four times on the night, the block was without question his favourite play of the game.
“I saw Ka’Deem… and obviously he is a very good player, probably the best back in the league in my opinion. When I [saw] him sliding out of there, I saw [Carey] had one to beat so I wanted to actually hit [the defender], but [the defender] undercut me so I just tried to get in the way,” he explained.
As much as the players on the sideline loved the play, it did fly in the face of the Stampeders’ typical coaching philosophy of not running up the score whenever possible.
“Listen, I’m not really trying to score on that play,” Coach Dickenson said “I’m just trying to keep the clock running. I’m impressed that they keep playing, but I was just trying to run out the clock.”
“A great commitment level, but I respect Edmonton and I respect Coach Jones and I was talking to [Elks assistant GM] Geroy [Simon] after the game about wanting to just end the game with the ball, but obviously we got some production there. It was a great play, but c’mon! It’s a 30-point game at that point, or whatever it was, so it’s really not the play that’s going to stand out for me.”
While the play will make the film room go crazy, it may not be shown as often as it might have been if the game was closer.
Maier played too!
After all that talk about Tommy Stevens, it’s worth noting that Jake Maier went 20-of-26 for 278 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions as Calgary’s starting quarterback, completing his own personal two-game sweep over the Elks. Bo Levi Mitchell started the other two games against the Stamps’ provincial rival earlier this season.
Maier made some tight throws into coverage, including a beauty to Reggie Begelton, and missed a few deep balls but otherwise managed a methodical approach to an offence that produced a total of five touchdowns and two field goals; taking what the defence gave him and protecting the football.
Maier did everything the team needed through the first three quarters and ended his night with a 54-yard toss to Malik Henry for his lone TD on the night.
Ka’Deem Carey breaks it open
One of the great things to emerge from the Netflix documentary “The Last Dance” about the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls is a meme that features basketball legend Michael Jordan looking into the camera and saying “and I took that personally” after hearing something that had been said about him.
Ka’Deem Carey played for the Chicago Bears of the NFL and maybe proximity made that kind of attitude rub off.
Carey was largely held in check during the Labour Day Classic in Calgary, producing his second lowest (non-injury related) yardage total of the season. So cue the Jordan meme…
Carey went off in this one, garnering 118 yards on just nine carries, including the aforementioned 40-yard score to finish the night.
Even eliminating the big run at the end of this blowout, Carey would have had 78 yards on eight carries or nearly a 10-yard-per-carry average.
If not for missing a few games this season, Carey may have had a shot at garnering some Most Outstanding Player votes in a post-Nathan Rourke injury world. He may yet be the Stampeders’ nominee.
Put up your Dukes
Receiver DeVontres Odoms-Dukes stepped in for Kamar Jorden, who was added to a growing six-game injured list this week, and played as well as you’d hope in his first start. He collected all three balls thrown his way for a total of 31 yards.
Dukes didn’t look like a player making his first-ever start, according to Jake Maier.
“Nothing he did tonight was a surprise. I know he is a physical blocker in the run game. He makes catches on the perimeter and has an unbelievable catch radius and feel for the game,” the quarterback said. “I remember my first game as a rookie last year and to me, it didn’t look like he had that gaze in his eye at all. It looked like he’s been here before and he’s ready for these types of moments.”
The slotback position in Calgary has long been one filled with backups waiting to get their chances and injury opening the door, as both Reggie Begelton and Kamar Jorden had to wait behind guys for years before getting their opportunity to shine.
Odoms-Dukes is still a rookie and new to the team but if scout team chemistry exists with Maier and he performs well, the coaching staff has shown they are open to making changes this season.
Peyton Logan fumbles again
For the second straight week, Peyton Logan fumbled a punt return and it resulted in a turnover.
Logan is an incredibly dynamic player with the ball in his hands, especially in space, but against any other team, those fumbles may have proved more costly.
One has to think that another ball hitting the turf could cause Stamps’ assistant head coach and special teams coordinator Mark Kilam to hand the return duties to someone else, given how much the organization preaches ball security at all costs.
On another special teams note, the Stampeders did manage to block a Jon Ryan punt in the first quarter which led to the first of Tommy Stevens’ one-yard plunges for six.
Lemon keeps dropping them too
Shawn Lemon has as many sacks as Jackson Jeffcoat and Willie Jefferson combined through Week 14 of the season. I’ll let that sink in for a second.
Lemon now has 10 quarterback sacks this year to go with four forced fumbles and 23 tackles.
While Lemon has bounced around the CFL in his career, since returning to Calgary he has 18 sacks in 23 games. He continues to climb the all-time leaderboard with 88 “Lemon drops” to his credit.
Orimolade becoming a jack-of-all-trades
While defensive lineman Folarin Orimolade didn’t get to Elks’ QB Taylor Cornelius this week, it is worth noting that he did have a kick return for a second straight week.
The Elks’ coverage team has been relatively leaky this season and so they went with pooch kicks to keep the ball away from the Stampeders’ duo of Peyton Logan and Jalen Philpot until late in the game.
While there is no chance of Orimolade becoming a full-time returner, not many defensive linemen hold a two-game kick return streak either.
Credit to Postmedia’s Danny Austin for doing the math but after another lopsided win at Commonwealth Stadium, the Stampeders have now officially scored more points in Edmonton than the Elks have in 2022.
The Elks have played six games at home and have totalled 101 points scored. The Stamps have played there twice and have scored a total of 107.
This doesn’t even include the 37-7 preseason meeting.
The Elks are bad at home and are still trending down as they tear apart the roster. It’s a shame for this to happen following the state of disaster the franchise was left in by previous management. Could that be the reason that Commonwealth only had an announced crowd of 26,946 in attendance?
Chasing down the Lions
The Stamps now enter a crucial home-and-home with the B.C. Lions, beginning with a date at McMahon next weekend.
The Stamps sit a half-game back of the Lions, who currently hold second place in the West and look much more vulnerable than they did when Nathan Rourke was carving up the opposition week after week.
Winning these two games would go a long way towards securing a home playoff date, something the organization is focusing heavily on in a super competitive season.