Johnson: Stamps, Riders appear headed for a playoff showdown
All that’s left to be decided is where the Buttocks Bowl, ahem, West semifinal, will be played
The unique, unavoidable issues inherent with any visit to Mosaic Stadium to deal with, and suddenly hundreds (thousands?) of fleshy behinds braving bone- and butt-chilling conditions to send up Stamps’ drawers-dropping prankster Jon Cornish.
Given the ramifications of a West Division final berth being on the line, the Stamps would prefer to delay, if at all possible, that particular Gong Show a few months, until their first regular-season visit of 2013.
Because despite the obligatory manly protestations emanating from BC Place in the wake of a 27-22 loss late Saturday evening, the reigning Grey Cup champions and first place in the division now appear out of range.
A group armed with the personnel and pedigree of the Lions, four points in front, only four games left for each to play and already having tucked away the seasonal tiebreaker with a lone head-to-head meeting remaining?
You neither? Thought not.
So the squabble from here on in is solely with those hard-to-kill Saskatchewan Roughriders, and the location of the West semifinal Nov. 11.
The disappointment of Saturday, and a score line that, quite frankly, flattered Calgary, has seen to that. The Riders did their bit in ratcheting up the drama, stomping the Argos on Monday at Rogers Centre, to draw up alongside the Stamps at 8-6.
“Didn’t play well enough to win,” adjudged boss John Hufnagel to a small, scruffy gathering of media mongrels on Monday, Thanksgiving Day, morning. “We played better in the fourth quarter to make a game out of it and give ourselves a chance. But over the four quarters, too many penalties hurt us a little bit. We had a third quarter where we had only two series offensively and both were two-and-out and we didn’t establish any momentum.
“Defensively, they were on the field a lot but they did come up with the big play” — DE Charleston Hughes stripping the ball from Leos’ tailback Andrew Harris, and DB Brandon Smith returning it 48 yards — “to get us a touchdown and give us some life.
“So looking back on it, did we play better than the first time we played against B.C.? I’d say we took a positive step that way. But we still didn’t play well enough to win.”
Per usual, thereof bumps. Most significantly, influential middle linebacker Juwan Simpson sustained an ankle injury during the opening half.
“He came back in the second half and did an outstanding job,” said Hufnagel. “I believe he’ll be ready for this (Winnipeg) game.” Deron Mayo (ankle) is also expected to be fit enough to play, too.
The prognosis isn’t so technicolour bright for either linebacker Chris Randle (knee) or defensive back Jamar Wall (ankle). Hufnagel listed them both as “doubtful” for Saturday’s final trip to CanadInns Stadium. If Wall is a no-go, then Quincy Butler, back to full speed, is the most likely candidate to step back into the lineup.
Hufnagel also said that, for the moment, Bo Levi Mitchell remains listed as No. 2 on the depth chart, behind Kevin Glenn, meaning the game-action return of Drew Tate, and a subsequent quarterbacking controversy, is at least another week away.
As Calgary and the Riders head for home now neck-and-neck, the schedule slightly favours the Stamps, seeing as how three of their four remaining games are against teams sub-.500 at the moment. All Riders tests, contrastly, are versus teams at or over the break-even mark.
Still, factoring in the wacky unpredictability of the CFL, the home-park playoff date is probably a coin-flip.
Which is why, with players given the holiday off, Hufnagel and his staff were nonetheless busy at an otherwise quiet McMahon Stadium on Monday.
“Some of us,”’ teased the boss, beginning to vanish into the inner sanctum of the locker-room, “have to work on Thanksgiving.”
No rest for the vanquished.
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