Game #2: Green & Gold leave Redblacks seeing red

By: Santino Filoso

 

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On Friday night, the Ottawa Redblacks attempted to be the first Ottawa team to get a win at Commonwealth Stadium since August 26th, 1983 and to end a streak of 18 straight losses (spanning the Rough Riders and Renegades) in Edmonton.

Pre-Game:

– No TSN pre-game show to speak of, due to a sloppy, flag-filled affair (that seemingly dragged on forever) taking place in Montreal between the Als and the Bombers

1st Quarter:

– Redblacks receive the opening kickoff but quickly go two and out after a short Chevon Walker (#29) run and a Henry Burris (#1) sack

– On the ensuing punt the Redblacks give up a huge return that is luckily negated by an Eskimo holding penalty

– Eskimo QB Mike Reilly goes for the throat on the Esks’ first play, launching a deep bomb but overthrowing an open Fred Stamps

– Redblacks go two and out, Eskimos go two and out,  Redblacks go two and out, Eskimos go two and out,  Redblacks go two and out, Eskimos go two and out,  Redblacks go two and out, Eskimos go two and out,  Redblacks go two and out, Eskimos go two and out,  Redblacks go two and out, Eskimos go two and out,  Redblacks go two and out, Eskimos go two and out,  Redblacks go two and out, Eskimos go two and out,  Redblacks go two and out, Eskimos go two and out,  Redblacks go two and out, Eskimos go two and out,  Redblacks go two and out, Eskimos go two and out,  Redblacks go two and out (or at least that’s what it feels like)

– Smothering defense and overthrowing receivers seems to be the theme for both teams so far

– 1st round pick Antoine Pruneau (#6) makes his presence felt with a heavy special teams tackle

– After finally stringing together a few first downs thanks to a Walker shovel pass and a Matt Carter (#85) catch, the Redblacks’ drive stalls

Chevon Walker, Dexter McCoil, Rennie Curran
Stingy Eskimo defense

– For the 2nd week in a row the Redblacks try to run a fake field goal with backup QB Thomas DeMarco (#17) but are thwarted by a timely Eskimo timeout.

– Eskimos match the Redblacks drive with one of their own and open the scoring with a 52 yard rouge courtesy of kicker/punter Grant Shaw

– The Sens trail the Oilers 1-0 after the 1st

2nd Quarter:

– Teams continue to trade two and outs to start the 2nd

– Redblacks returner Jamill Smith (#15) will have a restless night after he finds a lane, has nothing but open field in front of him but steps out of bounds on the sideline

– Burris gets sacked

– Kicker Brett Maher makes a beautiful 48 yard punt that is returned 23 yards after the Redblacks miss numerous tackles

– After a 15 yard catch by FB Patrick Lavoie (#81), RB Walker explodes for a 65 yard TD scamper behind a massive block from FB John Delahunt (#49)

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Walker celebrating his 3rd TD of the year

– Henry² (Marcus Henry #16) looks good making a 17 yard catch but Redblacks ultimately punt

– Reilly leads the Eskimos on a long drive and into field goal range to end the half but Shaw shanks the 23 yarder through the end zone for a redemption rouge

7-1 Germany over Brazil 7-2 Redblacks over the Esks at the half

3rd Quarter: 

– Eskimos make it look easy as they march down the field and score on their opening possession; Adarius Bowman hauls in a 41 yard pass and dances around safety Eric Fraser (#7) to score. Adding insult to injury the Redblacks are flagged for roughing the passer which is tacked onto the kick off, which Grant boots through the end zone for a single.

– Redblacks don’t miss a beat and continue their 1st half trend of two and outs

– Defensive lineman Brandon Lang (#91) goes offside and gets flagged for the 3rd time

– Reilly gets sacked by Zack Evans (#92) and Shaw extends the Esks lead to 11-7 with a 47 punt yard for another rouge

– Paris Jackson’s (#19) first catch of the night beats the blitz and picks up a 1st down

– Maher smashes a 52 yard punt that bounces out of bounds at the Eskimo’s 3 yard line

– Heavy pressure on 2nd down gives the Redblacks a big two and out

– Instead of following conventional wisdom and conceding a safety, the Esks decide to punt, which Smith fields and returns into field goal range

– A promising drive is snuffed out when Burris gets sacked for the 3rd time

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– Esks are rewarded for ignoring conventional wisdom when Maher pushes a 36 yard field goal wide right for a rouge

– Redblacks trail by 3 heading into the 4th (11-8)

4th Quarter:

– Adarius Bowman caps off a 5 play, 75 yard drive with his 2nd TD of the night, making an incredible 30 yard, one handed catch despite having Jovon Johnson (#2) draped all over him.

– Redblacks turn the ball over on downs after failing to convert a 3rd and inches on their own 25. Head Coach Rick Campbell challenges the spot of the ball (which seemed to be poor) and loses

– A 2nd down Brandon Lang sack is inexplicably wiped out when the referee forgets that contact IS allowed in football and flags him for roughing the passer

– The drive kept alive, Reilly hits a wide open Bowman (his 3rd TD of the night), to make it 25-8 with 9:15 left

– Catches by Kierrie Johnson (#10), Carlton Mitchell (#88), and Henry², bring the Redblacks into FG range. Following another Burris sack, Maher splits the uprights from 34 yards out to make it 25-11

– Eskimos RB John White explodes for 34 yards on a 2nd and long draw

– Feeling guilty, the umpire tries to atone for the earlier blown call

– Shaw absolutely crushes a 64 yard punt, pinning the Redblacks on their 1 yard line

– Facing heavy pressure the offensive line collapses and Burris is sacked for a safety, the Eskimo’s 5th sack of the night

– With 1:11 left in the game, DeMarco enters for mop up duty and hits Carter and Jackson for long gains before being picked off on the final play of the game

– Final score: 27-11 for the team not wearing red and black

Stats that stand out:

– Burris went 13/25 for 114 yards (0 TDs or Ints)

– Walker had 10 carries for 92 yards and a TD

– Johnson was the leading receiver with 4 catches for 28 yards

– 11 penalties for 118 yards

Closing thoughts:

If the Redblacks Week One loss left fans feeling hopeful and entertained, this week’s was surely the opposite. It’s frustrating because once again the Redblacks shot themselves in the foot by taking way too many penalties. The game was a defensive struggle for the better part of three quarters and the offense struggled to move the ball with any kind of rhythm. Burris needs to be better but no receiver stood out either. Too often it seemed that when the Redblacks receivers ran option routes they weren’t on the same page as Burris. They clearly need more time to work out the kinks and get comfortable with one another. As for the offensive line, they aren’t going to enjoy film study on Monday as they were thoroughly outplayed by the Esks’ front seven, giving up five sacks and failing to open up holes for Walker to run though. On the defensive side the Redblacks struggled to put Reilly under any kind of sustained pressure, even when blitzing. Though special teams coverage was better overall, there continued to be ugly moments that flipped field position, a back-breaker in defensive struggles like this game.

Despite their struggles, the Redblacks were in this game until early in the 4th. The turning point was absolutely the blown call on Lang’s CLEAN sack but there are other plays that stand out, such as Smith stepping out of bounds on a punt return that seemed destined to  be a TD and getting stuffed on 3rd and inches. As Coach Campbell said after the game:

“It’s disappointing. It was a defensive game for a long time and going back and forth and we were hanging in there. We just came up a few plays short. It’s always tough to lose.”

To sum up, though the Redblacks don’t want to be called an expansion team, they’re still the new kids on the block and are going to take their lumps. This game was ugly but with their next game at home in front of a feverish R-Nation, the Redblacks should be able to draw on the crowd’s energy for a better effort and hopefully a win. See you at Lansdowne (TD Place) next week!

@RedBlackGade

Photos courtesy of Ottawa Redblacks Facebook page

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CFL Mascots 101: What they didn’t tell you in the media guide

By: Santino Filoso

Welcome to Defend the R’s first annual (and completely unbiased) CFL Mascot Power Rankings. We’ve got the inside scoop on all the things left off the mascot scouting report. If you thought you knew everything about these cuddly mascots, prepare to be surprised!

THE EAST:

4) Jason (Toronto)

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Jason brings up the rear in what can only be described as an extremely weak mascot division. This cartoony Argonaut suffers from multiple personality disorder. He carries a sword, wears a futuristic space helmet, only has three fingers and looks like he’s been trying to pinch a loaf since the start of the Trojan War. Jason needs to seek professional help. And if you’re an Argos fan, please encourage him to get it next time you see him fishing on Lake Ontario.

3) T.C. and Stripes (Hamilton)

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T.C. and Stripes, the love children of Tony the Tiger and Tigger, are the tamed pussy cats who can be found patrolling the Hamilton sidelines. T.C. , which cleverly stands for Tiger Cat (man, they got some thinkers in Steeltown), has been leading purrs of “Oskee Wee Wee” since the mid 80’s. Sadly, this feline’s best days are behind him and like John Henry giving way to the steam-powered hammer, it’s only a matter of time before Stripes (get it — tigers have stripes!) replaces him.

2) Touché and Blitz (Montreal)

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These identical unilingual twin birds representing the Als are a stretch at number two but by default they can’t rank any lower. Like junkies searching for their next hit (of worms), these birds have been known to draw flags for illegally entering the field. Lastly (and most worryingly), though they claim to be birds, Touché and Blitz have never been spotted airborne, leading many to question their true nature.

1) Big Joe Mufferaw/Grand Jos

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The gem of the East division’s mascots, this dashing lumberjack can do it all; whether it’s chopping down trees, exterminating rodents (he’s looking at you, Gainer), bird hunting, or causing French language controversies, Joe’s the man for the job. When he’s not being serenaded by R-Nation at TD Place, Joe can be found log running down the Rideau Canal or in Mattawa, where his winter home is.

THE WEST:

5) Gainer the Gopher (Saskatchewan)

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Though Alberta has successfully and meticulously prevented rats from entering the province, their watermelon hat-wearing neighbours to the east have fully embraced rodents – even selecting one to represent their fabled name-stealing team. Gainer, which is an anagram of Regina, struggles when trying to count to 12, and has two cousins named Leonard and Goof (seriously) who sometimes make watching the Green Riders lose a family affair.

4) Leo the Lion (BC)

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Leo is a lion who tragically can’t roar. When he’s not meowing to pump the crowd up, you can find the feline practicing ballet and avoiding Ralph.

3) Punter and Nanook (Edmonton)

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They say opposites attract, and boy oh boy is that ever true when it comes to the Eskimo Empire. You can’t expect a lot out of your offense when one of your mascots is a ‘roid raged football named Punter. The yin to Punter’s yang is Nanook, a polar bear who moved South to avoid the melting Arctic ice floes and because he heard so many good things about the sushi in the West Edmonton Mall.

2) Buzz and Boomer (Winnipeg)

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Ever since they flew the coop in Chicken Run, these poultry have been living large. The loveable duo never stop hatching plans to entertain the Winnipeg faithful because they know their team won’t.

1) Ralph the Dog (Calgary)

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You have to give respect where respect is due, and despite always looking like he just woke up, Ralph deserves all the praise he gets. As the CFL’s first and oldest mascot, Ralph has been eating Eskimo pies, chicken Alouette and gopher gumbo long before any of the other mascots showed up. Despite showing his age, this pooch is still top-dog in the West.

Where do you rank ’em? Let us know in the comments below!

 @RedBlackGade