Straight out of Black Mirror: Stampeders lose bizarre game to Ticats and seven other thoughts

Photo courtesy: CFL

The creator of the near-future technology-gone-wrong show Black Mirror took a long hiatus after season five declaring that nothing he could write could be stranger than the reality we are all currently experiencing.

As a fan of the show, which is finally set to release a new season in 2023, I would hope that no one shows him the game film from this week’s clash between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Calgary Stampeders, lest it once again delay production for being too unbelievable.

The Ticats hadn’t won in Calgary in 18 years coming into the matchup and did everything they could to continue that streak, before stealing a 35-32 victory in front of 20,589 fans.

Here are all the things I saw from the press box:

Maier throws it away

Calgary quarterback Jake Maier came into the game having thrown four interceptions on the season and was among the league leaders in lowest percentage of throws picked off. He skyrocketed up that chart after throwing three first-half interceptions against the Ticats, including a Richard Leonard pick-six that gave Hamilton the lead in the first half.

Following the game, Stampeders’ head coach Dave Dickenson wasn’t too quick to throw his starter under the bus for all the interceptions, despite a new career-high being set.

“The first one, we had a wrong route on the inside. Which is not to say we wouldn’t maybe have been picked but it certainly contributed because we didn’t use up the defender,” get explained. “The second one he was trying to throw it away and got…good play. Richard Leonard played well, obviously played for us, and he played well. They went cover zero on the one and he undercut it; you’ve got to be careful throwing out routes versus zero. You miss and you miss outside and you punt.”

That isn’t to say Dickenson excused the errors either.

“That’s the thing, our mistakes cost us huge. Our mistakes were big time,” he noted. “It’s not like you make a mistake and it’s incomplete or made a mistake and gave up a big play. When we made mistakes, they made us pay for them.”

The Ticats scored 10 points off of the Calgary turnovers in the first half and took a lead into the locker room despite being outgained 211-63 in yardage.

Undisciplined play is very costly

Over the course of the game, the Stampeders took 10 penalties for a total of 110 yards, but that’s without accounting for the 43 yards of offence that were also negated by those plays or a critical Ticats drive that was extended to turn a punt into a field goal.

During one drive in the second quarter, the Stamps took 12 snaps, used more than five minutes of game clock and advanced the ball from their own 36-yard line to just the 54.

12 plays to go 18 yards. This included 25 yards of penalties on the Stampeders, a five-yard call on the Ticats, and 43 offensive yards all collected to move just 18 total yards.

It was a very weird sequence to experience, especially as it ended with a pick-six touchdown for the Ticats and a wind-aided rouge on the ensuing kickoff.

Running them over

Hamilton is the league’s best run defence. They are allowing half a yard less per carry than any other team in the league and a per game average that is more than 10 yards better than any other club at 77.5 per contest.

That just doesn’t matter to the Stampeders, as they rang up 183 rushing yards on 31 total carries to more than double the number typically surrendered by the Ticats.

The numbers get even gaudier if you remove Tommy Stevens’ eight short-yardage carries for 18 total yards. That gives the other Stampeders’ rushers a 7.1-yard average with 165 yards on 23 carries.

Of note was the use of first-round pick Jalen Philpot in the backfield, as the receiver carried the ball twice but netted 35 yards. With the way the Stampeders’ offensive line opens holes and what Philpot can do in space, the Calgary may have just found a way to further utilize his skills and create even more headaches for defences that have to stop Ka’Deem Carey and Peyton Logan.

Carey went over a thousand yards on the season for the first time in the CFL, a testament to his health this season more than talent, as the only thing that has kept him from getting there in the past was injuries.

Lemon adds another drop, scoops fumble

I wrote last week about why Shawn Lemon deserves your vote for Defensive Player of the Year and he strengthened his case during the game, adding another sack and a fumble recovery in Hamilton territory.

In his post-game interview, Lemon kept his eyes firmly on team success rather than his own.

“It means we lost today,” Lemon replied after being asked what the sack meant to him.

“Anything that I can do as a defensive end for us to win this game, I want to do. I had an opportunity there in the endzone, I got a pressure. If I get there a second earlier, it’s a strip sack in the endzone and we are celebrating in the locker room.”

On that specific play, Lemon had beaten his man around the edge but also had to get around the goalpost before reaching Ticats’ QB Dane Evans. The pass ended up as a completion for a first down instead.

“Lemon is a leader of our team,” said Ka’Deem Carey after the game. “He’ll break us down with the speeches, and he worked hard this summer on his body to go chase that sack record, to get 100 this year.”

“He’s definitely the most explosive defensive player out there, quarterbacks watch out!”

Get down Dukes!

DeVontres Dukes had a solid game in place of Malik Henry, with four catches for 39 yards on six targets. He also had an 18-yard completion negated by penalty that put the Stampeders at the Hamilton 10-yard line.

However, some seasoning is still required. Dukes fought off two tacklers and went out of bounds inside the five with just over a minute left on the clock in the game. The Stampeders would eventually score a touchdown but would leave more than sixty seconds on the clock.

Hamilton would use that final minute to score the winning touchdown, something that may not have happened if more time had come off the clock during the final Stampeders’ scoring drive.

“There’s a saying that ‘Details Matter’ and it’s sitting on the front of our playbooks,” said Dickenson. “(Dukes) knows and hopefully we can take care of that. Made a good throw and a good catch, but would have been nice if he had stayed in bounds.”

Long Ball Langlais

There are a few prop bets in the CFL you’d be willing to try your luck on, but one of the most consistent payoffs over the years would be Stampeders fullback William Langlais on the under for yard, and touchdowns.

In this game though, you’d have lost it all as the seven-year veteran hauled in his first touchdown pass of the season and of his career. He also set a career-high with 35 yards receiving in the game.

Injuries have provided Langlais with more than his usual opportunities this season, as he has also returned some kicks to accompany the occasional sideline route.

Next Up

The Stampeders will face off against the Riders for the final two games of the season, contests that most thought would be vital for the West Division standings when the season began. Instead, it’s the Riders fighting for their playoff lives as the Stampeders will be scoreboard-watching to see what happens to the B.C. Lions.

Regardless, there are some Stampeders who will be looking to add to their stat totals, as the Riders have surrendered the most sack in the league and have also give up more than 100 yards a game to running backs.

There could be some high numbers in store for players looking to make their case for the year-end awards.

Ryan Ballantine is a lifelong Stamps fan and host of the Horsemen Radio Podcast. He has been covering the team since 2008.