There is a scene in the beginning stages of the 1975 film classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail that tends to stick with a person forever.
“Bring out your dead!” Eric Idle cries repeatedly, as he walks beside a cart of bodies trudging through medieval England.
John Cleese approaches with a body draped over his shoulder and attempts to pay the fee, only to have the supposed dead man exclaim, “I’m not dead yet!” That sets off a brilliant exchange that ends with Idle braining the man and putting him on the cart.
By virtue of a 26-19 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the Stampeders found themselves in the position of the supposed dead man. Now, not only are they “not dead yet,” they are somehow in control of their playoff fate despite improving to just 5-11 on the season.
Here’s what I saw from the press box at McMahon.
I had a strong argument with an American while in Las Vegas last week about the beauty of the Canadian game and why I prefer it to the NFL. After watching this game, I’m not sure why I defended it so passionately.
The Stampeders won with 208 offensive yards and had just 10 first downs compared to nine two-and-outs. Cody Grace punted the ball 11 times.
Quarterback Jake Maier was plagued by receivers dropping passes, at least six by my count, and finished the game 17-of-29 for 184 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.
On the flip side, the Riders punted just four times but were limited in that respect because they gave the ball away six times — four on downs, a fumble and an interception.
Riders’ QB Jake Dolegala went 23-of-33 for 272 yards, a good portion of which came on a 42-yard over-the-shoulder beauty to former Stampeder Shawn Bane. Often his passes that were incomplete had zero chance of being caught, whether they were four to five yards short or thrown away due to the pressure provided by the Stamps defensive front.
All in all, it was a brutal game to watch, salvaged only by the result which at least keeps the playoff race alive for another week.
Few Carries for Carey
Given how the Riders have been gashed by teams running the ball over the last month or so, you’d have expected to see a healthy dose of Ka’Deem Carey and the returning Peyton Logan getting the ball in the backfield.
Instead, the Stampeders tried play-action again and again and the league’s reigning rushing champ didn’t get a carry until their fifth possession, finishing with just nine overall.
Not only did Carey, the league’s highest-paid American running back, not touch the ball until more than two minutes into the second quarter, but the two carries he saw on that series were his only two of the first half.
I’m continually baffled by the seeming lack of faith in the run game by the Stampeders’ playcallers. The run has been abandoned early and the three-headed monster of Carey, Logan, and the injured Dederick Mills haven’t been utilized nearly often enough.
We miss you, Reggie. Oh yes, we do.
Reggie Begelton was a scratch this week while dealing with a chest injury, and it’s clear the team missed his production and reliability.
Drive after drive died at the hands of receivers who couldn’t hang on to the ball. While not every throw from Jake Maier was perfect, he deserved better numbers than he got in this game.
Just before halftime, the frustration seemed to get the better of Stamps head coach and general manager Dave Dickenson, who told TSN that he needed to find some professionals and that his team needed to grow up.
“It wasn’t pretty,” Dickenson offered following the game. “We won’t win a lot of games without Reggie…I need his expertise and his playmaking ability. We had three guys playing different positions but I think that next week we will be better.”
Receiver Floyd Allen was pressed into action as a result of Begelton’s injury and found the endzone before running to the corner of the endzone and performing a perfect roundoff into a backflip combination to celebrate.
Even though the Stamps depth chart is razor thin at the receiver position, Dickenson wasn’t about to admonish the young player.
“Have fun. Life is short so do what you need to do and celebrate good plays and triumphs. (Floyd) must have been a gymnast at some point.”
In Awe of the Judge
The two Stampeders linebackers were everywhere in this game, with Micah Awe collecting a baker’s dozen of 13 tackles and Cameron Judge making nine stops and taking an interception back to the house for six points.
The interception came right at Judge, who made no mistake cashing it in but gave credit to his coaching staff for making sure he was in the right place at the right time.
“It looks easy there, but the work went in during the week to make it look that way,” Judge told reporters. “I give credit to (defensive coordinator Brent Monson) as well for putting me in the position to succeed; I just had to execute.”
He has the Power (to get ejected)!
Charlie Power was ejected from the game after receiving two unnecessary roughness calls on the same play — a Calgary punt in the early in the fourth quarter.
From the press box, the play seemed somewhat innocuous and no in-stadium replay gave us a better idea. After the game, Dickenson was equally confused.
“You guys probably saw it better than me. Certainly a penalty, a bit of, I guess, a scrap. Why we got the two, I’m not sure, and I’m not about to argue about it because it won’t help.”
The play had a total of four flags, including a no-yards penalty and an unnecessary roughness call on the Riders as well, but the offset of everything still moved the Riders 30 yards upfield. Another penalty gifted them 10 yards on the ensuing first down, as the Stampeders collected a total of seven penalties for 80 total yards on the evening.
The team did get some help from the officials upstairs, however. as Dickenson was able to win a challenge for offensive pass interference that took away a first down and made it a third-and-16 instead. Earlier, the command center had to call down to eliminate a horse-collar tackle penalty on Mike Rose that was called by the official on the far sideline.
Now we wait
The Stampeders have their fate firmly in their grasp but have a tall test with both B.C. and Winnipeg remaining on the schedule. They are still a game behind the Riders in the overall standings but now possess the tiebreak.
The Stamps will need to win at least one of their two remaining contests, and also see Toronto beat Saskatchewan in the Riders season finale to get into the playoffs. If the Riders were to beat Toronto, the Stampeders would need to win both of their remaining games.
The downside to this for Calgary is that B.C. is still in the hunt for the West Division crown after their win against Hamilton this weekend, and the Stamps play them before either of the other two games that impact their chances will be decided.
Without a win next Friday against the Lions, the hammer of Eric Idle may fall on the Stampeders as they are carried towards the cart of the dead, instead of dying on the field of battle.