My wife and I attended the Lions/Esks Western Final and had a fabulous time! When the Lions were 1-6 back in the summer we thought we were looking at a team that was going the way of Hamilton when that team had seasons with only 2 or 3 wins. We were looking forward to returning to B.C. Place but figured the season was pretty much a write-off. We were hoping to take in our first Grey Cup but sorely disappointed in the prospects that we'd be cheering on some team other than our Lions.
What a difference a few months can make! Kudos to the Lions' coaching staff for a job well done. The Lions did not finish with a weak 3rd place showing. They finished in First Place and won first place in dramatic fashion. They did not earn a birth in the Grey Cup because the opposition had a bad day, or had several key players injured. The Esks are not marshmallows. The Lions outplayed them and outsmarted them. Beating the Esks 4 out of 5 times clearly proved that. The Lions fought their way from cellar dwellers to Western Division Champions!
In the Western Final, there were very few miscues beyond what would normally be expected. Edmonton had its chances but could not capitalize. The turning point was probably when the score was 6-26 with Edmonton marching the ball down to the Lions 20 yard line or so. An Esk TD and the score would have been 13 or even 14-26. The Esks would have had the momentum and seeds of doubt in the final outcome would have been sown. Thankfully it was not meant to be.
When we look back at way the Lions consistently dismantled their opponents from winning key games to seal First Place to annihilating Montreal in the season finale and then destroying Edmonton in the Western Final, the Lions are every bit as strong as they were when they won the Grey Cup in 2006 and took First Place several years in a row.
I remember when we lost Logan and Mallet and Wake to the NFL. I remember looking forward to Yonus Davis only to be shocked and disappointed when he had to be cut from the team because of some stupid choices he made. One could not help wonder if we would be able to replace these guys. And now we have players like: Brown, Harris, Gore, Mitchell, Hunt and Bruce. The list goes on.
It wasn't long ago that Travis Lulay was playing back up to Pierce, Printers and Jackson. Now look where he is and look how he's playing. The Travis Lulay of today is not the neophyte of a year ago or so! The B.C Lions have provided some phenomenally entertaining games this past season. Who will forget their win against Calgary when McCallum set a CFL field goal record and how the Lions won that game?
There were some who thought the Lions were simply on a roll or that they peeked too soon and the wheels would fall off. Some said they were only winning because they were playing weaker teams. The Lions proved those skeptics wrong. Could it be that the Lions have just simply matured into a power house dynamo team that is destined to win the Grey Cup for the 6th time in its franchise history? I've no doubt. I'm not saying it's a done deal but I do believe the Lions are the better team and the best in the CFL. I believe the Lions will prove it on November 27!
And if they do not, I will not go home disappointed. They have already provided some of the best entertainment value the CFL could ever provide in 2011!