Calgary Stampeders quarterback Drew Tate and Toronto Argonauts running back Chad Kackert get top honours from the 3rd and Long guys for their performances in the CFL division semifinals.
Mac's Main Man
Legends are born in the playoffs, and it often comes in the face of adversity. When history looks back at the career of one particular Calgary Stampeders player, it will be said that his road to greatness began this past Sunday.
Stamps quarterback Drew Tate, hands down, is "Mac's Main Man" for the CFL division semifinals after proving to all his critics that he can deliver when the game is in his hands. How can anyone now question that No. 4 is anything but clutch after the way that the West semifinal concluded?
Let's set the scene: fourth quarter, 19 seconds left, season on the line in front of the home crowd. Tate drops back and heaves a 68-yard rocket down the sideline to veteran receiver Romby Bryant for a touchdown and the win. It doesn't get too much more epic than that in a non-championship match-up.
Tate had hype and high expectations thrust upon his six-foot, 192-pound frame heading into this 2012 campaign. He was crowned "the next one" to lead Calgary into a golden age when he took over from the aging, but still capable, Henry Burris.
Then came the injury. Stampeders fans panicked when Tate went down for the majority of the year and back-up Kevin Glenn got the call to start. To everyone's surprise Glenn exceeded expectations and produced solid numbers to lead Calgary to a second-place finish in the West. When Tate was ready to return there was debate in several media outlets, including here at 3rd and Long, about whether it was a better idea to ride the hot hand of Glenn into the post-season.
Going into this semifinal battle against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Tate not only needed to be victorious, he needed to dominate. The Baytown, Tex., native played with a firey determination, and he needed to with the seasoned Roughriders offence putting up some major numbers. While Saskatchewan's gunslinger Darian Durant tallied over 400 passing yards, Tate won the most important individual stat category of turnovers.
Durant did toss four touchdowns, but he got picked off twice. Tate rifled two touchdown completions and did not throw an interception. He threw for 363 yards to six different receivers, and went 22 for 36. Naturally, having a threat like the man-beast Jon Cornish rush for over 100 yards helped his cause.
This is a massive confidence booster for Tate and the club as a whole. The fourth-year Stampeder went toe-to-toe and beat one of the best CFL quarterbacks of the last five years, and showed that he can take the pressure that comes with a last-minute drive down the field.
Tate is a leader and is most definitely for real. Calgary just became the most dangerous team in the league and is poised to dethrone the defending Grey Cup champion B.C. Lions next weekend.
-- Andy McNamara
When the Toronto Argonauts released Cory Boyd in the thick of the season, many questioned the move. Boyd at the time was the leading rusher in the league, but the team had made plans to move on without him. Coach Scott Milanovich took a lot of criticism in the media for the surprising move.
Chad Kackert was called upon to step in and fill the void left behind by the talented Boyd. We found out Sunday afternoon why the Argos were confident in the young back. Kackert rushed for 88 yards on 15 attempts and a score, and was also able to get free in the screen game, tacking on another 51 yards receiving and a touchdown catch in the Argos' 42-26 blowout victory over the Edmonton Eskimos in the East semi.
Kackert was also a key cog in the protection his quarterback, Ricky Ray, got all game long, which allowed Ray to complete 23 of his 30 passes for 239 yards and two touchdowns.
The aggressive Eskimos defense was kept off balance all game long by the play calling of Coach Milanovich. Whenever they needed a key stop, they just weren't able to get it, which was clearly evident in the 31-point second quarter explosion for the Argos. The game didn't provide much excitement after the halftime break.
The Argos and Kackert now have their sights on the East Division rulers for the last decade -- the Montreal Alouettes. The Boatmen are playing their best football right now, and have the confidence knowing they can win in Montreal, as they were able to come away with an early road victory in La Belle Province. Should be an exciting East final.
-- Carlan Gay
Honorable Mention: A huge shout-out and thank-you to the men and women who serve and have served this great country. Lest we forget.
3rd and Long3rd and Long is the only all Canadian Football League podcast on iTunes. Hosts Andy McNamara and Carlan Gay bring you the hottest guests from around the CFL. Weekly recaps, Picks of the Week with former Argos cheerleader Shannon Kelly, and fan emails makes Team 3-R-D your top CFL destination.