It’s a weekend of rematches in the CFL in week six, and it kicked off with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats visiting the Toronto Argonauts on Friday night. Last week, the Tiger-Cats destroyed the Argonauts and it never looked like any other outcome was possible on Labour Day. With revenge on their mind, the Argos came out of the gates hungry to even the season series in a story-filled affair. Here are our takeaways from the game.
Did Anyone Want to Win?
It’s games like this where you wonder what exactly was going on when both teams were preparing for this game. It really seemed like both teams were trying to give the win to their rival, and boy was it ugly. Despite their best efforts, the Argos couldn’t cost themselves the game at the very end, but hey, the Tiger-Cats did cost themselves the game, or at least a chance to tie it late.
It might seem like I’m being harsh and I get that both teams are coming off short rest, but that game was a gong show. Both teams would have been run out of the building by just about any other team in the league had they played like that and neither team should be proud of the way they played. It was an ugly football game that I’m sure most fans turned off before it ended.
Where’s the Run Game, Hamilton?
A good run game goes a long way for so many reasons. One of the biggest ones is it keeps the defence honest and stops them from sending heavy pressure and making the quarterback’s life difficult, but the Tiger-Cats decided to almost entirely abandon the run game in the rematch against the Argonauts. The Tabbies only had eight rushing attempts and Dane Evans accounted for three of them. It’s hard to imagine why they would do this, especially with Sean Thomas Erlington averaging over five yards per attempt. It backed them into a corner and allowed the Argos to tee off on Evans in this game.
Evans was sacked four times in the game and took a beating. The Argos also had three pass knockdowns, a sign that pressure was being put on the quarterback even when they weren’t sacked. This can all be traced back to the Tiger-Cats run game being virtually non-existent, however.
It’s such an odd situation, especially considering that normally when a run game is abandoned, it’s because it isn’t working, but in a very small sample size, it was working for Hamilton. Thomas Erlington had four carries for 28 yards, and an average of seven yards per attempt. That is more than good enough to keep Hamilton ahead of schedule of first down or even pick a first down on second down. Now, 21 of those yards came in one play, but why would you take the ball out of the hands of such an explosive play-maker?
On one of the last plays of the game (seen above), that 21-yard run came into play and Thomas Erlington scored a touchdown to bring Hamilton within one point. It’s just confusing. We saw what he is capable of doing, and the passing game was struggling for the Tiger-Cats, so why didn’t they turn to Thomas Erlington? What is the point of having a player like that if you don’t use him?
How Bad is Dane Evans Hurt?
The biggest question looming over the heads of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats right now is the health of their quarterback, Dane Evans. We’ve already talked about what they did wrong that contributed to getting him hurt, but the reality is that no matter how it happened, it’s a big blow to the Tiger-Cats who were just starting to figure things out.
Exactly when Evans was injured is currently unclear, but it seems like it was on a Shawn Oakman sack with about eight and a half minutes to go in the game. Complicating matters even further for the Tiger-Cats is Jeremiah Masoli who came into the season as the team’s starter is also currently injured, but according to Orlondo Steinauer, he should be “fine” next week.
The injuries of the Tiger-Cats quarterbacks are critical for them, however. Although David Watford led the drive that would have tied the game if not for a missed extra point, he is not going to be doing too much winning for the Cats this season in all likelihood. The Tiger-Cats are back in action next Friday, and they desperately need either Evans or Masoli back in the lineup before they host the Calgary Stampeders.
Kickers? Who Needs One, I Guess?
There have already been a fair amount of teams in the CFL this season that have had issues with their kickers. In the past, it has been the BC Lions and Winnipeg Blue Bombers most notably, but the Hamilton Tiger-Cats have gone and added their names to the list. Michael Domagala missed the game-tieing extra point with just over a minute to go in the game and cost the Tiger-Cats the game.
Everyone always takes their kicker for granted until they need one. In the biggest moments, can your kicker make the big kick to win you a game? For the Tiger-Cats, the answer here is no. I wouldn’t be shocked if Domagala was replaced by Hamilton sooner rather than later considering he has been shaky with the team so far. I don’t want to be too hard on him considering kicking is difficult, but it’s a cut-throat business at the end of the day.
A Long Way to Go for Nick Arbuckle
Already this season, we have seen some great plays from Nick Arbuckle that show off why he was so highly touted in the offseason, but we have also seen some plays that leave you scratching your head wondering why he would ever think about trying that. In Friday’s rematch against the Tiger-Cats, he spent plenty of time spinning his wheels and made some of those decisions that you never want your quarterback to make.
Late in the game, Arbuckle made a critical error that very easily could have cost his team the game. On second and 10, he made a throw fading towards his own endzone that was destined to be intercepted from the time it was thrown. At the time, the Argos had a seven-point lead with just under two and a half minutes to play.
This was one of those times where either taking the sack or throwing the ball away would have been the best thing to do. With Watford in at quarterback for the Tiger-Cats and them up against the clock, getting your defence on the field with decent field position would have nearly ensured an Argos victory. Instead, he tossed the ball up for grabs and gave Hamilton life.
This is a learning experience for Arbuckle, and he’s lucky that his team came away with a win after the fact. Going forward, he needs to make some smarter decisions and not throw needless interceptions that can change the course of a football game.
Passing Yards: Nick Arbuckle (TOR): 236
Rushing Yards: John White (TOR): 84
Receiving Yards: DJ Foster (TOR): 63
Touchdowns: Sean Thomas Erlington (HAM), Papi White (HAM), DJ Foster (TOR), Nick Arbuckle (TOR): 1
Tackles: Simoni Lawrence (HAM): 8
Special Teams Tackles: Gordon Whyte (HAM), Felix Garand-Gauthier (HAM), Trevor Hoyte (TOR): 2
Sacks: Eli Harold (TOR), Shawn Oakman (TOR): 2
Interceptions: Tunde Adeleke (HAM), Cariel Brooks (HAM), Henoc Muamba (TOR): 1
13th Man Sports’ Player of the Game
POTG: Eli Harold
3 tackles, 2 sacks