Once again another week goes by in the CFL and once again another week where the Montreal Alouettes look like they don’t belong in this league and the Calgary Stampeders also look like they don’t belong in this league. We got to see one of the best comebacks you’ll ever see as Toronto came back from being down 24 in the third to squeeze out a win over Ottawa. Week 8 saw the much anticipated debut for Jonny Manziel that deflated itself very quickly as he threw 4 INTs in the first half. As always, Arik and Ian have your CFL Week 8 Recap

 

Week 8 Bye: 

Ottawa (4-2)  – 41

Toronto (1-5)  – 42

 

The Toronto Argonauts have had a disappointing season to say the least. The defending champs have sputtered out to a 1-5 start through the first six games this year. With starting quarterback Ricky Ray out for what looks like the season the Argos have been looking to back-up James Franklin.

However, Franklin hasn’t seemed to be getting the job done so Marc Trestman opted to go with McLeod Bethel-Thompson as the starter in this one. This was Bethel-Thompson’s firs start and at 30-years old he looked to make an impression in the CFL after bouncing around the NFL since 2011.

The Ottawa RedBlacks have been a slightly inconsistent team this year. Their only two losses came at the hands of the undefeated Calgary Stampeders, but they’ve gotten some inconsistent play from quarterback Trevor Harris as the team comes off a win against Hamilton where their only points were by field goals. Harris has been in the top four in passing yards and touchdowns but has a TD-INT ratio of 6-4.

Ottawa has been able to run the ball quite well all year with William Powell sitting second behind Andrew Harris in that category. The defence has been one of the better ones this year allowing no more than 27 points in a game all year and that once again came against the Stamps.

It didn’t take long for the RedBlacks to get on the board as they scored within the first few minutes of the game on their opening drive. Harris took the offence down the field on a 5-play drive hitting Diontae Spencer for a massive 43-yard gain before passing to Brad Sinopoli for the 17-yard touchdown followed by a 3-yard run by Brendan Gillanders for the 2-point conversion for the 8-0 lead.

Things didn’t go so smoothly for Bethel-Thompson early, who had a three-play drive on his first attempt before punting the ball. He then threw an interception on the second drive when Rico Murray came up with his third pick of the season on a diving play.

The mistake proved not-costly as on Ottawa’s drive following the pick Harris completed a pass to Greg Ellingson who then fumbled the ball which was recovered by Justin Tuggle and the Argos.

After the RedBlacks got a stop to get the ball back they end up needing to punt themselves, from their own end zone as opposed to giving up the points. On the punt Martese Jackson ran it back 46 yards to the Ottawa 4-yard line.

A few players later James Franklin came in on short yardage to run the ball 1 yard for the touchdown and 8-7 score.

After a defensive pass interference penalty in the end zone by Abdul Kanneh Ottawa took the ball at the 1-yard line and Dominique Davis punched it in for the touchdown. After a failed 2-point conversion the RedBlacks took a 14-7 lead.

They weren’t done there as they scored again this time on special teams. After a Richie Leone punt Martese Jackson tried to catch the kick over his head but it went off his hands and into the end zone which was recovered by Anthony Cioffi for the touchdown jumping out to a 21-7 lead.

If things could get any worse for the Argos before the end of the half…they did. First, they turned the ball over on downs on a 3rd and 2 run by James Wilder Jr. Then on their next drive they handed it off to Wilder again who fumbled the ball recovered by the RedBlacks at the Argos 17-yard line.

On the next play Harris threw a swing-pass to Diontae Spencer who ran it the rest of the way for the touchdown putting the lead up to 28-7 at the half.

The Argos would finally get something going in the second half. On their first drive coming out of the half they started using SJ Green a little more and in different ways moving him around the field. After Bethel-Thompson converted a 15-yard pass to Green he also hit Wilder for another 13, before hitting Green again for the 5-yard touchdown cutting the lead down to 28-14.

Ottawa would slow any momentum Toronto was mustering by driving down the field on their next drive. The 9-play drive would end in a 17-yard Lewis Ward field goal building the lead back up to 31-14.

The bleeding would not stop for the Argos. After another 2-and-out they would punt the ball to Diontae Spencer who ran it 88 yards for the punt return touchdown and the 38-14 lead.

Bethel-Thompson found some rhythm on his next drive hitting SJ Green on three straight passes for a total of 78 yards marching down to the 1-yard line before Franklin ran it in for his second TD of the night. The 2-point conversion would be failed resulting in an 18-point Ottawa lead at 38-20.

When Ottawa took the ball, they gave it right back. Harris threw a pass over the middle only to have it intercepted by Abdul Kanneh giving Toronto possession at the RedBlack 52-yard line.

The comeback would continue! Bethel-Thompson hit Green on another two passes the second being an 11-yard touchdown pass on 3rd and 2. It was Green’s second TD catch of the night and Bethel-Thompson’s second TD pass of his CFL career. The extra point was missed resulting in the 38-26 score.

After both teams exchanged field goals the Argos got a massive 70-yard punt return from Martese Jackson which setup a Bethel-Thompson pass to Wilder who ran 20 yards carrying defenders with him into the end zone for the touchdown and the 41-35 Ottawa lead.

The Argos would then complete the comeback with no time on the clock. Bethel-Thompson took the team on an 11-play drive before hitting Armanti Edwards in the corner of the end zone for the 23-yard TD pass. Edwards made an unbelievable catch double-clutching the ball before bringing it down in the end zone. Toronto attempted a 2-point conversion but failed not that it mattered as they won the game 42-41 completing the 24-point comeback.

The amazing comeback was something to admire, for an Argo team that looked all but done in the first half. It’s hard not to look back at he 40-yard gain by RJ Harris who looked like he was about to score the touchdown for the RedBlacks before tripping on himself and being tagged down resulting in a field goal.

McLeod Bethel-Thompson proved to be a viable option at QB after a slow start he did what he needed to, leading the comeback in the second half. He helped lead the Argos through scoring 35 points in the second half going 25/37 for 302 yards and 4 TD’s and 1 INT as well as 54 yards on the ground.

Once the offense started utilizing veteran receivers like SJ Green things really started to flow together. James Wilder became a factor more-so than he has through the first seven weeks of the season. He had 17 carries for 73 yards and 4 catches for 42 yards and 1 TD.

The defense was lit up early in the game but really stood their ground late in the second half especially in the fourth quarter. If this team can get quarterback play like that of which they got in the second half consistently they can pair that with a defense that can stand tall and possibly start challenging Ottawa more in the Eastern Conference.

Ottawa came on very strong in the first half piling the points on until it looked like they were going to run away with it. But it all fell apart there as they were only able to put up another 13 points the entire second half, with three of those coming in the fourth quarter when Toronto finished the comeback.

I don’t know what happened to the defense in the last quarter, but they lost total control. Give credit to the Argos but when your defense gives up points like that something is wrong. Albeit the offense couldn’t keep the ball to give their D a break, but you still need to hold onto a lead like that.

Despite throwing for 381 yards Trevor Harris couldn’t do enough late and his 1 interception was costly as it led to the Argos putting up points and building the comeback. Ottawa had next to no run game with William Powell finishing with only 35 yards on the ground.

This team continues to be a mystery week in and week out where they look like they can handle most teams and only struggle with tough ones, but then they put up games like this where it seems like they have no idea how to play a full 60 minutes.

Player of the Game: SJ Green. Green had 9 catches for 134 yards and 2 TD’s. When Bethel-Thompson started throwing the ball to Green things started happening while Green led the team to victory through his play-making ability and leadership on the sideline.

 

Saskatchewan (3-3)  -19

Edmonton (4-2)  -26

The Edmonton Eskimos have displayed one of the best offenses through the first seven weeks of the season. The majority of that comes at the hand of QB Mike Reilly who early on looks like he could repeat as the league’s MOP. His 2,063 yards were leading the league going into the Week 8 match-up with the Roughriders and he was looking to reproduce his 400+ yard performance from the week prior against the Alouettes but he would be facing one of the best defenses in the league.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have been perplexing so far this year. As previously mentioned they have showcased one of the best defenses in the league. However, it’s a different story for the vanilla offense. They would be getting quarterback Zach Collaros back from the 6-game injured list as well as DB Nick Marshall meaning that Duron Carter would be returning to the offensive side of the ball. Would it be enough to get the offense jump-started heading into a battle against a decent Esks D?

The Esks would strike first in this one on their second drive of the game. On the 6-play drive, Edmonton got a few solid runs by CJ Gable and a huge 61-yard catch from Derel Walker before Gable touched it all off with a 3-yard touchdown run for the 7-0 Esks lead.

The Riders would answer with a scoring drive of their own a few drives later. Zach Collaros made a couple of great throws to Jordan Williams-Lambert before trying to hit Shaq Evans in the end zone. Defensive pass interference was called on Mercy Maston setting Saskatchewan up on the 1-yard line.

The Esks defense stopped two straight QB sneak attempts by David Watford but on 3rd and 1, Marcus Thigpen took the ball the rest of the way into the end zone tying the game at 7.

After Mike Reilly pulled off a nice 9-yard run avoiding pressure on a 2nd and 5 the drive stalled, and Sean Whyte kicked a 48-yard field goal giving the Esks a 10-7 lead which they took into the half.

The Riders came out hot to start the second half with Collaros hitting Thigpen for a 28-yard gain before Thigpen then took off for an 11-yard run of his own. Collaros then hit Duron Carter for a 41-yard touchdown pass over the middle of the field who pulled it down and fought his way into the end zone over DB Aaron Grymes for the 14-10 lead.

Mike Reilly wasn’t having any part of it though coming right back himself. On a five-play drive, he hit Derel Walker for a 36-yard touchdown. The Riders had Walker in double-coverage who found a way to make a magnificent catch at the pilon and bring it down for the score jumping the Esks out to a 17-14 lead.

The Riders came right back themselves on a drive led by a Tre Mason 42-yard run allowing the Riders to march down to the Edmonton 10-yard line. On 3rd and 4 Saskatchewan lined up to kick the field goal but the Esks took an offsides penalty resulting in a first down for the Riders resulting in another 1-yard run by Watford for the touchdown and the 21-17 lead.

However, after review, it was shown that Watford’s knee was down before the ball broke the plain and the points were taken off the board going back to a 17-14 Eskimo lead.

That wasn’t the only score to come off the board. After the Esks gave up the safety as opposed to punting out of their own end zone, Reilly would hit Duke Williams on a diving catch for a 98-yard TD. But after review, it was evident he was down by contact before getting up and running the rest of the way.

As the drive continued Reilly would hit Nate Behar who would fumble the ball which was recovered by the Toby Antigha at the Edmonton 27-yard line. The ensuing drive resulted in a 2-and-out for the Riders and a 33-yard Brett Lauther field goal.

Mike Reilly would then do what he does, not allow his team to die. After a few traded scoreless drives Reilly would hit Kenny Stafford who made a ridiculous 46-yard catch pinning the ball against the defender’s shoulder pad.

He then hit Derel Walker again for 15 yards before Reilly himself would take the ball 1 yard for the score and after a failed 2-point conversion a 23-19 Esks lead.

After a Rider 3-and-out and turnover on downs, the Esks took control of the ball with under two minutes left and fed CJ Gable the ball to chew up some yards and clock leading to a 46-yard Whyte field goal sealing the 26-19 victory.

The Esks continue to prove why they are the second-best team in the league behind the Calgary Stampeders. Even when it looked like the Riders had opportunities to handle this game, Edmonton led by Mike Reilly would step back out and regain control.

Reilly wasn’t lighting it up with his 257 passing yards and 1TD but he always went on the field looking like he was going to lead his team to victory. He got some help from his receivers who made some amazing catches and from CJ Gable who had 81 yards on the ground.

The defense stepped up big when it had to force 2-and-outs at the most opportune times and the team as a whole didn’t take too many stupid penalties as they have through times this year. This was a solid hard-fought win for the Eskimos.

Finally, it looks like the Saskatchewan Roughriders have an offense. In his first game back Zach Collaros went 22/34 for 261 yards 1TD and most importantly didn’t turn the ball over. He got 62 yards rushing from Tre Mason 86 through the air from Jordan Williams-Lambert who’s proving to be a solid young target. Duron Carter only had 3 catches for 59 yards, but one was a big touchdown making his presence felt back on the right side of the ball.

The defense did what it always does and that’s fairly dominant. They were able to maintain a decent amount of pressure on Reilly forcing four sacks to Edmonton’s zero. They also forced a few fumbles. The Riders just need to capitalize when the time is right. Get in the end zone rather than settle for field goals and maybe not go for it on every 3rd and goal situation.

Not to take anything away from an Edmonton team that fought its way back to victory in this one, but it still felt like at times the Riders were beating themselves.

Player of the Game: Derel Walker. Walker had 6 catches for 154 yards and 1TD. That touchdown was a beautiful catch and the other 5 were big-play receptions that set the Esks up to capitalize and stay in the game long enough to pull ahead for the win.

Hamilton (2-4)  – 50

Montreal (1-5)  – 11

At least we have some exciting news this week in Montreal as Johnny Manziel would start his first professional football game in over 900+ days. Unfortunately, it wasn’t pretty. Not one bit. Actually probably went about as worse as it could have possibly gone. This Montreal team is much more than just a good QB away from being a good team, they are by far the worst team in the league.

Hamilton is a team that I didn’t think should have moved on from Manziel, despite the performance he put on in this game. I don’t think Masoli is capable of being a grey cup winning quarterback and that they moved on from Manziel too quickly. Despite that, the Tiger-Cats blew Montreal out of the water this week and pushed closer to .500.

The Tiger-Cats would start with the ball in this game and it wouldn’t take them long to slice through Montreal’s defense like a hot knife through butter. Within three minutes they pushed the entirety of the field before Masoli would spot Brandon Banks 17-yards out on blown coverage to give the Tiger-Cats an early lead.

For some fans, Hamilton scoring fast was a good thing because that meant we got to see Johnny Manziel faster. Unfortunately, his first CFL pass didn’t go as intended.

The Tiger-Cats would score on the turnover and go up 14-0.

Montreal would get the ball back and after two rushing plays that didn’t amount to a first down, they would get their punt blocked and returned to the house by Sean Thomas-Erlington and be in a 21-0 hole, 8 minutes into the game.

Montreal barely had any successful plays in this game so we’re going to keep showing you Manziel throwing the ball. To the other team. Montreal would get the ball back after the Tiger-Cats third score and less than a minute later, give it back to Hamilton.

Hamilton would once again score on that turnover and we simply can’t show every single score or this article would go on forever.

Montreal would get the ball back, actually drive down the field without turning over the ball before Boris Bede would drain a 30-yard field and put the Alouettes on the board. 28-3 Tiger-Cats.

Don’t call it a comeback though as a couple minutes later, Johnny Manziel was back at it again with the turnovers. Can we appreciate his closing speed on the tackle though?

Oh and here’s the fourth and final one to close the half.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats would close out the half with a 38-3 lead on the Alouettes in a disastrous start to Johnny Manziel‘s CFL career.

The Tiger-Cats quite simply dominated the rest of the game and would eventually go on to win 50-11. Even TSN got bored during the game and that’s why we have no more video clips to show you of the Tiger-Cats walking into the end zone over and over again.

There’s a lot of debate going around the CFL on whether or not Johnny Manziel should have even been in this game. I can see both sides of the argument, but I don’t think he should have been in this game either. Montreal has an absolutely atrocious roster and didn’t give Manziel anything to work with after only a week and a half of practice. Manziel was simply thrown into this game to sell tickets, something Montreal and the CFL desperately are in need of. However, it isn’t fair to judge Manziel’s performance because of those reasonings. Manziel is a fantastic QB with a lot of experience under his belt, it’s just been almost three years since he’s been under center. Montreal won’t be fine. Manziel will be.

Hamilton, on the other hand, this game was hard to gauge. Once again Masoli looked “okay” in a huge win. 17/26 for 300 yards, 2 TD’s, 2 INTs. For some reason no matter how well his team plays he can’t seem to improve on his terrible TD/INT ratio. That’s why I don’t believe he’s a QB capable of winning a Grey Cup. One thing Hamilton does have going for them though is their defense was simply world beaters in this game forcing SEVEN turnovers, they got to the QB and they covered down field exceptionally well.

Player of the Game: Hamilton’s defense. Nobody stood out on offense and the defense as a whole forced 7 turnovers, gotta give credit where credit is due.

 

B.C. (2-3)  – 18

Calgary (6-0)  – 27

The undefeated Calgary Stampeders played host to the 2-3 B.C. Lions in a Saturday night game at McMahon Stadium. Calgary has the best defense in the league and once again it was on display despite giving up 335 yards, they were bend but not break as they also forced three turnovers in the game. Calgary is the measuring stick in which all CFL teams this year are trying to reach. Don’t worry though, they’ll find a way to go undefeated but still lose in November.

The Lions have looked a lot better under Travis Lulay as they are actually capable of moving the ball down field, the just couldn’t convert in the red zone and would settle for a lot less points than they could have got. Unfortunately they played in a very competitive western division and if they want to make the playoffs they’ll be looking at an eastern division cross over.

B.C. would start with the ball in this game and put points on the board in their first drive, as they’d take the ball to Calgary’s 33-yard line but have to settle for a 40-yard field goal to put them up 3-0 early.

Calgary would get the ball back and it wouldn’t take long for them to put points on the board as Bo Levi Mitchell would connect with Kamar Jorden on a beautiful 53-yard touchdown. KJ would then break out the Fortnite dance.

Calgary would add on a field goal to go up 10-3 before a huge drive downfield by Bo Levi Mitchell set up Nick Arbuckle for the one-yard QB sneak to put Calgary up 17-3 just before the half.

After a huge punt return by Travon Van that would give the Lions field position inside Calgary’s red zone.

Lions running back Jeremiah Johnson would cap off the short drive and cut the deficit to 18-10.

Once again Bo Levi Mitchell would drive down the field early in the fourth quarter just to have his backup QB Nick Arbuckle finish off his drive with another QB sneak from the 1-yard line.

The Lions wouldn’t go silently into the night as they are one of the only teams to actually keep up with Calgary this season and keep the game close. Travis Lulay would connect with Bryan Burnham in the end zone with just under five minutes in the game to cut the lead to 27-17 and setup a fantastic finish to the game.

The Lions would tack on one more point but ultimately fall short as the Stampeders remain undefeated at 7-0 after a 27-18 win over the Lions.

Calgary is simply the beat team in the league, they have the second-best quarterback in the league in my opinion coupled with a lethal receiver core and the best defense in the league. I can see them going undefeated up until the Labour Day back to back with Edmonton where they might split the games, but other than that I don’t see anybody beating Calgary anytime soon. Until November at least.

The Lions looked a lot better in this game as they actually competed with Calgary for most of it. Travis Lulay is a breath of fresh air to this Lions offense that looked stagnant and unable to accomplish much with Jonathon Jennings under center. The west is too competitive for the Lions to come back and fight for a playoff spot in so they’ll be unfortunately looking towards an eastern cross over if they’re going to make the playoffs this year.

Player of the Game: Kamar Jorden. 5 receptions for 185 yards and a TD.

 

CFL Standings

CFL Week 8 Recap

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