Sunday, November 19, 2006

"No absolute is going to make the lion lie down with the lamb unless the lamb is inside."

The title quote, from D.H. Lawrence, appropriately sums up today's Grey Cup game. The B.C. Lions lived up to their name, and thoroughly devoured the surprisingly lamb-like Montreal Alouettes. There's a very good reason why the Lions dominated the CFL Awards last week: their collection of outstanding talents is unsurpassed in this league, and the big names delivered today. Outstanding Canadian, Outstanding Defensive Player, and Warrior of the Year Brent Johnson, only hours after collecting his new truck for his Warrior of the Year prize, proved he is worthy of his hardware, having a strong game. He and CFL Outstanding Rookie Aaron Hunt, along with front-four compatriots Tyrone Williams and Chris Wilson, had Als' quarterback Anthony Calvillo on the run all day. Hunt played extremely well, and forced Calvillo into a key fumble and turnover, which helped to increase the Lions' momentum. The CFL's Most Outstanding Player, Geroy Simon, made a few key catches, but played a more vital role in drawing the attention of the Als' secondary, and opening space for the other B.C. receivers. Dave Dickenson, named the game's most outstanding player, stepped up and delivered a huge performance. Dickenson was great through the air, and did a terrific job of reading the coverage: however, what played an even bigger role for the Lions was his performance on the ground. In scenes reminiscent of former understudy Casey Printers, Dickenson was fantastic at producing something from nothing: he frequently took off running on broken plays, outmaneuvering the Montreal defence to gain his own first downs. Rob Murphy, recipient of the league's Outstanding Lineman award, and the rest of the Lions O-line, provided tremendous protection for Dickenson, giving him time to pick apart the Als' defence.

However, the aspect of the game that played the largest role in the Lions' victory was their superior depth. It was the role players who stepped up to win the Lions the game. Paul McCallum was fantastic, going 6/6 on field goals to tie a Grey Cup record, and consistently pinning the Alouettes deep in their own end with well-executed punts to the corners. As a reward, he was named both Warrior of the Game and the game's outstanding Canadian. Korey Banks made some huge blitzes from his defensive back position to keep Calvillo under pressure, with one resulting in a quarterback sack. Javy Glatt and Otis Floyd combined for perhaps the most crucial play of the game, where Glatt went over the top of a huge pileup of players to hit Montreal running back Robert Edwards on the Lions' one-yard line, forcing a fumble that Floyd recovered. Ian Smart, most frequently utilized on punt returns, took advantage of the Montreal defense's focus on running back Joe Smith and star Lions' receivers Simon, Jason Clermont, and Paris Jackson, with a 25-yard touchdown run. The score was both the Lions' only major of the game and the first touchdown of Smart's CFL career. Kendrick Jones was also able to find some space as a result of the Montreal secondary keying on the more established receivers, and made some key catches to move the down markers for the Lions. Quarterbacks Buck Pierce and Jarious Jackson also came in and played their roles for B.C. as they had all year, executing well in short-yardage situations to pick up some crucial first downs. The ensemble effort by the entire team was the real reason why the Lions were successful in becoming the 2006 Grey Cup champions.

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