Rourke’s record-setting week
Lions’ freshman Canadian QB set pair of league marks in blowout win over Elks
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In what’s been a thrilling 2022 CFL season, filled with exciting games and tight finishes, Week 9 didn’t exactly live up to the hype.
That’s not to say there wasn’t much entertainment — on the contrary, as new records were set, dominating clubs added to their success and, as always, plenty of highly skilled plays — it just didn’t pack the usual punch we’ve been used to this year.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers (9-0) remain perfect, breaking open a tied game in the fourth quarter to beat the 2-6 Montreal Alouettes 35-20 at Molson Stadium. The Calgary Stampeders (5-2) and Ottawa Redblacks (1-7) did their best to put us to sleep, with the Stampeders earning a 17-3 triumph at home in what proved to be a tough game to watch.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2-6) did what they’ve done all season, built up a healthy lead only to fall on their faces, resulting in a 34-20 loss to the Toronto Argonauts (4-3) at BMO Field. Finally, the B.C. Lions (6-1) once again showed no mercy to the Edmonton Elks (2-6), scoring early and often en route to a convincing 46-14 victory at BC Place.
While it might not have been the greatest showings this week, there’s always plenty to talk about in the three-down loop. So, let’s get at it in the latest edition of CFL Rundown.
1) The Bombers remain the only unbeaten team in the CFL, which is pretty incredible in and of itself. It’s even more incredible when you consider the fact they’re playing through the hardest part of their schedule, with six road games and zero bye weeks.
2) I’ve been asked whether I believe the Bombers could be the first team to finish with a perfect regular season record since the CFL was first established in 1958 and my answer is no. Why? Because I see the Bombers clinching the West with a month remaining in the season, resulting in sitting starters to preserve their health come playoffs. Mike O’Shea doesn’t care about perfect seasons; all that matters is that they win their last game before the winter.
3) Among the reasons Alouettes GM Danny Maciocia fired Khari Jones after a 1-3 start was because of a lack of discipline. Well, under Jones, the Alouettes were flagged 29 times for 275. Under Maciocia, they’re also 1-3, but the penalties have swelled to 39 flags for 467 yards.
4) Montreal is clearly a mess right now, and I’m not sure they have the horses to turn this around. The buzz is several players are still upset with Jones’ firing, and it’s created a divide in the locker room. Losing another game to the back-to-back champs on the road will only make things tougher.
5) Some good news on the Bombers injury front, as CFL all-star safety Brandon Alexander was doing some change-of-direction work at practice this week. Alexander, who has been sidelined since suffering an ACL injury in last year’s Grey Cup, told me he’d be back ‘soon.’ Either way, it’s a positive step forward in his recovery.
6) Let’s go to the trust tree for a moment. I fell asleep in the third quarter during the Stamps and Redblacks game. What a boring affair, which can pretty much be summed up by the fact there were no offensive touchdowns by either team.
7) It’s at the point where I’m starting to feel sorry for the Redblacks. Calgary was missing head coach Dave Dickenson to COVID-19, centre Sean McEwen, stud running back Ka’Deem Carey and all-star defensive back Tre Roberson and Ottawa still couldn’t find a way to win at home. The Redblacks have the bye this week, returning to a home-and-home series against the lowly Elks. A couple losses to a desperate Edmonton club and the Redblacks season is over.
8) Speaking of Roberson, the Stamps announced he underwent knee surgery this week and is expected to miss the remainder of the regular season. That one is going to sting.
9) What happened to Redblacks QB Caleb Evans? He went from earning a top-performer nod in Week 8 to a performance last week (10-for-21 passing for 66 yards and an interception before getting pulled in the third quarter) that has raised questions of whether he’ll get another start this season.
10) You’ve got to give credit to the Redblacks fanbase. Despite winning just once at home in their previous 19 games, 20,452 fans attended. That’s pretty incredible support.
11) Shoutout to Stamps long-time equipment manager George Hopkins worked his 1,000th game with the club. The 63-year-old Calgarian began working for the Stamps as a ball boy at age 12. Amazing.
12) The Ticats held a 17-6 lead in the third quarter only to be outscored down the stretch, 28-3. A game where the Hamilton put up more yards, had more first downs and won the battle of possession by more than eight minutes.
13) It hasn’t been a fun season in Hamilton, and it appears it might just be getting worse. All-star receiver Bralon Addison suffered a significant lower-body injury and is out indefinitely. On Wednesday, reports surfaced QB Dane Evans was getting an MRI on his shoulder and was possible to miss this weekend’s rematch against Toronto. At 2-6, it’s looking like a third consecutive trip to the Grey Cup is a pipe dream for the Steel City.
14) Nathan Rourke had another massive outing, beating up on the Elks for a second time this season. The Lions QB did most of his damage in the first half, totalling 386 yards on 34-for-37 passing and five touchdowns – three to receiver Dominique Rhymes. He finished the game with 477 yards through the air, while also adding his own rushing touchdown.
15) Rourke set a new record for the all-time single-game mark for completion percentage, connecting on 91.9 per cent of his passes. That eclipsed the old record set by Trevor Harris in 2016, when he completed 90.3 per cent of his throws. He also set a new mark for single-game passing yards by a Canadian QB, which bested the 436 yards he threw earlier in the season.
16) The Elks have been outscored by the Lions this season, 105-29, while Rourke is 60-for-66 passing for 758 yards and eight TDs. Not all that surprising given the Elks have allowed (290) twice as points as they’ve scored (145) in 2022.
17) For all the good Victor Cui has done for the Elks in his new role as president, I can’t for the life of me understand the thought process in predicting Edmonton would win four straight games. That they were obliterated in the first game just makes it funny. Cui said afterwards that his prediction was based on a chat with the Elks coaching staff. Call it the Chris Jones effect.
18) The Saskatchewan Roughriders were the lone team on the bye this week. They return to action this week as healthy as they’ve been in weeks, with QB Cody Fajardo (knee) feeling better and CFL sack-leader Pete Robertson back from a foot injury.
19) At 4-4, the Riders aren’t happy with their season so far, but things don’t exactly get easier. Saskatchewan will face Edmonton this week, but then play B.C. twice and Winnipeg three times in five of its next six games. We’re going to find out real soon what the Riders are all about.
20) If you’re looking for another reason to get behind Lions owner Amar Doman, look no further than the comments he made earlier this week about the Argonauts ownership. Doman joined Vancouver sports talk show Sekeres and Price and was asked about Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment chairman Larry Tanebaum’s recent comments that were critical of the league and its structure. Doman expressed his disappointment in the comments and then added that they only have themselves to blame for low attendance numbers. Glad someone is finally pushing back the league’s bully.
After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.