Stampeders go streakin'
Calgary Stampeders' Jon Cornish. (QMI Agency)
If the ball was a few inches to the left, the Calgary Stampeders would have driven home unhappy from Edmonton on Friday night.
If the kick was a few feet to the right on Labour Day, the Edmonton Eskimos would have hit the highway home in a happy mood.
But those are ‘what-ifs.’ What did happen was Eskimos kicker Grant Shaw missed both would-be winning field-goal attempts, and the Stampeders swept the Labour Day doubleheader for the third time in four CFL seasons.
“We understand we were fortunate enough to win the game,” Stamps head coach John Hufnagel said after the heart-stopping moment of Shaw’s 42-yard attempt hitting the uprights.
“On the other side of the coin, we had to fight through some adversity even before the game started. I’m proud of the players in the locker-room. They hung tough, even against a good team at their house.”
By the time the Stamps kicked off Friday in front of 39,363 fans at Commonwealth Stadium, they were already down to 41 players.
That number went to 40 by halftime and fell to 38 by game’s end.
Defensive lineman Dorian Smith suffered a calf injury in warmups and never played a down.
Returner Larry Taylor was knocked out of bounds by Eskimos defensive back Clint Kent and suffered a knee injury.
In the fourth quarter, receivers Arjei Franklin and Romby Bryant left with injuries.
There’s the argument from Eskimos supporters that the team as close to beating the Stamps in both games while playing without their No. 1 quarterback, No. 2 receiver, two starting defensive linemen and their top punter.
It doesn’t wash.
The Stamps are without their top QB, their desired left tackle, right tackle and left guard, three starting defensive backs and second-best defensive end.
The extent of the latest round of injuries isn’t known yet, but clearly the biggest loss would be Taylor, who was instrumental in the Labour Day victory with the game-winning TD and preserving missed field-goal return.
With nine players already on the long-term injured list, certainly none of the past three victories by the Stamps have been works of art.
They’ve shown, though, that errors aren’t going to cause widespread panic.
Maybe that has a lot to do with the quarterback. Veteran Kevin Glenn, who has now improved his career record to .500 (66-66-1), doesn’t let an interception rattle him.
The same couldn’t be said of former Stamps QB Henry Burris, who has thrown a pick-six in each of the past two losses for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Glenn had two passes picked off in the redzone Friday, but the Stamps kept pushing hard and stuck with the gameplan of running the ball with efficiency.
Eventually, they took the lead despite the missed points.
Asked what the two tight ‘W’s against the Eskimos mean, Glenn said they were crucial.
“It could keep giving us more wins,” Glenn said. “This could keep giving us momentum.”
During Hufnagel’s tenure with the Stamps (since 2008), every year, there is a mid-season winning streak that sets the team in playoff position.
Last year, it was a four-game run. In 2010, it was a seven-gamer. And in ’09, the Stamps won five of six.
In ’08, the Stamps took six-of-seven and extended that to 10-of-12 to finish out the season.
This modest three-game winning streak could extend a bit longer.
They get the 2-7 Winnipeg Blue Bombers next week followed by the 4-5 Saskatchewan Roughriders and then the Eskimos again on the Stamps home turf of McMahon Stadium.
A playoff spot could be won during this stretch, as long as they keep battling through adversity … and getting a couple of breaks.
On Twitter: @SUNIanBusby