By Jason Langvee
Were you confused about which games fell into week 15? It’s okay if you were. I would be remiss if I did not mention last night’s game in at least the preamble to this article. Ottawa and Toronto put on one of THE best games of 2015 so far. Check any social media and see why Chad Owens is trending. I’ll wait here.
Done? Okay now that you’re up to date on the CFL, forget last night’s game, because it’s the first game of next week’s article (check back for that!). Why did I ramble about it? Watch that one-handed catch again. Ready to move on now? Let’s go…
Now that all of that nonsense is out of the way we can start breaking down the four games that happened in week 15. On Thursday, the Alouettes took on the REDBLACKS in a game that has literally been etched into the CFL record books. Following that, Friday night brought us a game between the league’s leaders in Hamilton and Calgary. Finally on Saturday, we saw two match-ups in the league’s Western division. In Winnipeg, the Eskimos took on the Blue Bombers and in in the last game of the week, the Roughriders visited BC to take on the Lions. Half of this week’s games were decided by 3 points or less. The other half you might consider as blowouts. Either way, there were some players owning their performances… big time.
With their defence seeming impenetrable, this match-up between Montreal and Ottawa might have been billed as a stand-off between the Alouettes’ defensive immovable object and the REDBLACKS’ unstoppable force by way of the Henry Burris-led offence. Instead, Burris (last week’s Featured Player) did his best to bend our rules in his fight to be the league’s top performer in back-to-back weeks. As the benefactor to top receivers like Brad Sinopoli, Maurice Price, Chris Williams and Greg Ellingson (who cumulatively put up 392 yards), Henry Burris could do no wrong. Nik Lewis had a solid performance for Montreal, but anything done by the Al’s would need to take a back-seat to Burris’ 504 yard performance where he completed 85% of his record 53 pass attempts. Had Hank not taken the crown as RIVALUS Featured Player for week 14, it would be impossible to not hand him this week’s title. Henry, if you’re reading this; we want you to take this as a HUGE honourable mention. Hopefully the record books will keep you warm instead. Ottawa took this game handily by a score of 39-17.
On Friday, Hamilton and Calgary battled in yet another weather-mitigated match-up in Canada’s steel city. This time around, it was the wind that kept both Bo Levi Mitchell, and interim-QB1; Jeff Matthews honest with their passes. When offence is slow, Hamilton seems to have answers, and this time around (like many times before) that answer came by way of the Most Outstanding Special Teams Player front-runner: Brandon Banks. Once again, Banks returned a 1st quarter punt 83 yards for a touchdown. Although that play was big, it wasn’t enough to slow down Calgary. This game’s standout player got better as the game wore on. This game was tight from start to finish, but as we have seen time and time again: Jon Cornish only needs a few touches to get going. Once he was, Calgary’s offence was able to move the ball efficiently and ultimately that was enough for them to win the battle of field positioning. When a game’s as close as this was, sometimes it’s something as small as field positioning that wins you the day. That was the case for Cornish and his fellow Stampeders. Calgary won the game 23-20.
Saturday’s first game kicked off in Winnipeg with the Mike Reilly-led Eskimos taking on Matt Nichols’ new squad. In the week’s closest game, Winnipeg looked a lot better than their record might suggest. Highlighting that was the new QB himself, as Nichols completed 22 passes for 320 yards. On defence, Johnny Adams had his best game as a Bomber with a week-leading 12 tackles along with a very valuable interception. Unfortunately, all of that wasn’t enough for the Bombers to take down Edmonton. Mike Reilly completed 30 passes for a total of 298 yards, and with guys like rookie; Derel Walker climbing ladders to bring down contested balls, Edmonton’s offence certainly looked good. This game’s standout player though, did not find himself on either offence or defence. Sean Whyte, was perfect on the night; making 100% of his point-attempts. Whyte was 1/1 on extra points, and 3/3 on field goals (the last of which won the Eskimos this game). Edmonton took this game 24-23.
The last game of week 15 is where we find our RIVALUS Featured Player. As the BC Lions hosted the Saskatchewan Roughriders, it was BC’s rookie QB; Jonathon Jennings who won the spot to start in orange. That decision paid Jeff Tedford huge dividends as the 23-year old dynamo found himself with enough time to complete 4 touchdown passes. What’s better than 4 TD passes? 4 TD passes with 0 interceptions. With a completion rate of 76%, it was no wonder how the veteran; Emmanuel Arceneaux, was able to catch 4 passes for 137 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jennings wasn’t a one-trick pony in this game either. By the game’s end he scrambled for 40 rushing yards himself. Did I mention the he also CAUGHT a TD pass? Well thanks to the gadget-play that saw Austin Collie assume the mantle of quarterback, Jonathon Jennings added a fifth TD to his game’s tale.
Congratulations Jonathon, every time you touched the football in week 15, you got your squad one yard closer to a victory. You owned all of your performance at BC Place, and for that your are the CFL’s RIVALUS Featured Player of week 15.