MAC'S MAIN MAN
Thanksgiving got started early in the CFL with the Friday nighter between Hamilton and Edmonton easily the most important game for either club to date in 2012. Both teams came in with identical 5-8 records and were clinging to the final playoff spot with only four weeks remaining in the regular season.
The Tiger-Cats and Eskimos have each shown flashes of brilliance and shockingly poor play in what has been an inconsistent year. This battle was about more than just positioning in the standings. It was about which team was going to step up and prove that it was for real.
One player out of the slew of weekend highlights stood out as a no-brainer to be named Main Man -- Eskimos slotback Fred Stamps, who elevated his typical, high-flying performance to a whole other level in a 35-20 victory.
The New Orleans native posted super-human numbers with 204 receiving yards, including a game-high, 48-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown. It was Stamps' first 100-plus yard game of the season and showed that the six-year veteran is still clutch, heating up at exactly the right time. Even more impressive is that his TD came in crunch time when the Eskimos needed to swing the momentum away from the surging Ticats late in the fourth quarter.
Edmonton's quarterback woes have been well documented since Ricky Ray was traded to Toronto, leaving the offensive reins to the typically non-dynamic duo of Steven Jyles and Kerry Joseph. For receivers like Stamps, this change disrupted a long-lasting chemistry and the flip flopping of pivots made it even more difficult to get in any sort of groove.
Joseph did not have to be perfect -- and wasn't, throwing a pair of interceptions -- but rather just sharp enough to deliver when it counted. Connecting with Stamps on nine separate occasions was obviously a smart decision and could point to a budding on-field comfort between Joseph and No. 2. Eskimo fans certainly hope that the relationship grows quickly and I'm sure Stamps is licking his chops at the chance to be a major-impact weapon once again.
-- Andy McNamara
After celebrating Thanksgiving and enjoying food that I'll probably be eating for the rest of the week, it was very nearly my grandmother who won this week's Darling. Her famous pumpkin pie was, and always will be, a hit. However, the much-slighted, third-string quarterback for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers stole the show. There's no way I could possibly give this week's Darling to anyone but Joey Elliott. He stepped in for Buck Pierce and got a huge 27-22 victory on the road in Montreal, ending the Alouettes' seven-game winning streak.
Coming into the game, the Als boasted a league-best 6-1 record at home and Vegas had them favoured to win by two touchdowns. Someone forgot to let Elliot and the rest of the Bombers know that they were to just lay down and allow Montreal to wipe the floor with them.
Elliot took advantage of several Als mistakes (3 fumbles, 2 interceptions) in handing the East Division's best team only its second loss at home, passing for 335 yards and three TDs. In his five prior starts, Elliot won once and threw for two TDs, but he looked more poised than ever in Monday afternoon's triumph.
The Bombers now keep their slim playoff hopes alive and also cement the fact that anything can happen in this league. However, after the game Elliot had, questions will now certainly be asked about who should start at quarterback if Pierce is available too?
Glad I get to ask the question instead of answer it. Good luck, Coach Burke.
-- Carlan Gay
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