My tolerance for bad football is pretty high. I mean I did willingly watch a Tennessee/Jacksonville game on Thursday that featured jerseys so hideous I swear I've found more appealing stuff in Prophet Jr's diaper. I'd like to say I watched purely for fantasy football implications but if I'm being honest with myself I probably would have watched regardless. The point of this extended rambling is that I was going to be watching the CFL playoff games no matter what. I was super happy to be rewarded for my dedication with an absolute classic of a first game and a second game that was at least exciting enough to hold my attention until the end.
Let's start with the East Final. A beauty of a game. Tightly contested. Back and forth. Amazing plays on both sides of the ball. Came down to the very end. This was the CFL at its finest. Love him or hate him, for me Sunday's game solidified just how great of a coach Kent Austin is. Against a very good defense, he managed to get 350 yards passing out of his third string QB and another 40 out of his top receiver. He designed a game plan perfectly to Masoli's strengths and damn near pulled it out. Another thing this game solidified is how awesome Luke Tasker is. He is such a treat to watch that its worth enduring Rod Black's repeated reminders about his famous dad and poor attempts to give him a nickname.
The end sequence of that game was unlike anything I've ever seem. To summarize, Bad Hank showed up at the worst time ever for Ottawa and Burris threw what should have been a game losing TD directly into the hands of Hamilton's DE Gascon-Nadon. I get that you can only expect so much in terms of pass catching ability from a d-lineman but the only way Burris could have gifted that anymore would be if he wrapped it and had it delivered by singing telegram. After that bad drop spared Ottawa, they responded with a bad snap, a pass to a clearly well covered receiver... and a massive game winning TD because Gainey chose to embarrassingly fall down like h lost a battle with an invisible midget instead of making what should have been a routine knockdown. For the most part Ottawa deserved to win that game but man that's gotta be tough to take if your a Ti-Cat fan. I'm happy for Ottawa's fans... which is really tough for me given year's of anti-Burris conditioning.
The West final was essentially 3 quarters of Edmonton pummelling the Stamps, one of the oddest and most embarrassing video's reviews I've ever seen and a fourth quarter that featured a fight to the end by the Stamps in a desperate attempt at a miracle comeback. In a game featuring 2 of the stingiest defenses in the league, it was logical that a total of 76 points were scored. Credit to Edmonton's Offense. Calgary's had given up over 30 points just once this season (you would lose a bet if asked who did it because it was the Riders). Both offenses were moving the ball early but the big difference was that Edmonton was scoring majors while Calgary had to settle for FGs 5 times.
I now must address the embarrassing video review on the Messam fumble that honestly made the CFL look like the video review booth was being run by monkeys... no, check that, monkeys could probably have figured things out quicker. Clearly Messam fumbled and the play was whistled dead. Refs blew the whistle early and that cost the Esks a TD (at least briefly) but that's just run of the mill CFL reffing mistakes. What took this one over the edge was them taking 10 minutes to announce that the play was under review and another 10 minutes to figure out that because they blew the whistle and Lacey didn't score the play couldn't be reviewed by the booth (something they probably should have clued into a bit earlier given that the call on the field was down by contact... last time I checked that is not a scoring play). "The previous play could not be reviewed but Edmonton can now challenge" is about the most CFL call you will ever see. I mentally had the circus music going in my head the whole time. I just hope a reffing screw up like this doesn't pop up in the Grey Cup when a wider audience of non-football addicted people is watching,
I'll have more analysis on the Grey Cup as the week goes along but I will say this now: If Ottawa had trouble stopping a 3rd string QB they are going to be in trouble when Mike Reilly starts tossing against them.
If any of you are brave/stupid/crazy enough to be making the trip to Winnipeg for the Grey Cup party have 10 beer for me... it will help you cope with the whole "being in Winnipeg" thing.