The Toronto Argonauts and Saskatchewan Roughriders have clinched spots in the 2021 Canadian Football League postseason with wins in Week 13, although it wasn’t smooth sailing for either team.
In what turned out to be one of the more exciting finishes of the season so far, Toronto (7-4) came through in OT to edge the B.C. Lions (4-7) 31-29 on a rainy afternoon at BMO Field in the early contest of Saturday’s doubleheader.
Things were all tied up at 23-all at the end of regulation, although it shouldn’t have been but for a lackadaisical attempted pass by Argos’ quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson that was returned for a touchdown in the third quarter.
The Argonauts scored a TD on their first possession in overtime and added a 2-point conversion. That left the Lions needing to tie things up again to keep the game alive. And they almost pulled it off. B.C. scored a touchdown on their possession but then missed their 2-point conversion attempt. The result sees Toronto clinch their first playoff berth since 2017 and makes things very difficult for the Lions in terms of trying to make it to the postseason.
“It’s exciting that we’re hitting our stride,” said Bethel-Thompson. “I know we’re not seeing it on the scoreboard necessarily, but we’re creeping our way up there and when we put this thing together, we’re going to be as dangerous as our defence is.”
In Saturday’s late game, Saskatchewan (7-4) managed to outplay Montreal (6-5), particularly through their defence, to win 19-14 at Percival-Molson Stadium.
On the offensive side of the ball, Riders’ quarterback Cody Fajardo had a less than stellar outing throwing for 158 yards and being sacked several times, while the recently traded Trevor Harris came on in the fourth quarter for the Alouettes and completed 12 of his 15 passes.
However, it was Saskatchewan’s defence that set the tone of the matchup by sacking Montreal’s starting quarterback Matthew Shiltz four times, picking him off and forcing some turnovers.
“I say it a lot to our guys. It’s going to take all 45 of us,” said Roughriders head coach Craig Dickenson.
Hamilton (6-5) came away with a high-scoring 39-23 win against the hapless Elks (2-8) in Edmonton on Friday night.
The Tiger-Cats scored a couple of touchdowns in the first quarter to open up a margin they didn’t relinquish through to the full-time whistle. Hamilton quarterback Jeremiah Masoli had an exemplary game passing for 357 yards while running back Don Jackson ran for more than 100 yards on the night.
That win combined with Montreal’s loss moved the Ticats into the number 2 slot in the East.
The week started off with the Calgary Stampeders (6-6) taking care of business against Ottawa (2-10) winning 26-13.
The Redblacks hit the front early but as has been the case all season long, they couldn’t hold on and were eventually overrun.
While the final result was probably a foregone conclusion, perhaps the highlight was Stampeders’ quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell hitting the milestone of 30,000 passing yards. He and B.C.’s Michael Reilly (33,845) are the only two active QBs in the CFL with that much yardage in their careers.
So, with just three weeks remaining in the CFL’s regular season, the final playoff spots have yet to be determined. You can draw a line through Ottawa and Edmonton as both have been eliminated mathematically.
In the East, things are pretty interesting with Hamilton and Montreal level-pegging and needing to win to stitch up playoff berths. They also need to win to keep B.C. from sneaking in ahead of them via the crossover rule.
As for the Lions, they may still be a chance mathematically, but they need to win out to give themselves any shot at that crossover spot. Right now, they trail Calgary for third place in the West.
The Ticats are set to host B.C. in Week 14 in what could be a make-or-break game for the Lions, while the Alouettes travel west to face off against Winnipeg in what could also be a pivotal matchup for them.