What happened to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sunday was unspeakably cruel, yet somehow deserved. Isn't that always the way when the hard-done-by Hammer is concerned.
To an average football watcher weaned more on watching the NFL and NCAA than the CFL, it's sheer lunacy that a team can retain possession after the ballcarrier fumbled the ball through the end zone. The referees apparently got the call right, but that doesn't mean the CFL shouldn't examine the rule in the off-season. As a sidenote, as the league to the south knows, it's not bad for business when it seems like one team gets ripped off. This should be a talker over the next few days.
It's not on YouTube yet, so let's set up for anyone who hasn't seen the play. In the final minute of a one-point game, Saskatchewan's Weston Dressler caught a first-down pass and broke into the clear, with nothing but white stripes between him and a go-ahead score. Hamilton's Jykkine Bradley caught up to him and stripped the ball an eye-blink before Dressler could extend it across the goal line. The ball skips through the end zone.
In the States, it's a touchback. On the merit of the play, the Tiger-Cats should have had possession and a chance to run out the clock. Instead, thanks to those oddball Canadian rules, the 'Riders kept the ball, since apparently they had the last touch. On the next play, Wes Cates plunged over from the 1 for the 33-28 victory.
The point is, rules in sports are supposed to reward or punish a team in proportion to the act. Saskatchewan getting the ball back after a fumble -- skill-position players in football know it's a fate worse than death (only slightly embellishing) to fumble near the goal line -- is a head-scratcher. It was the right call. For now.
That being said, it was kind of karmic. Hamilton couldn't contain Saskatchewan's third-string QB, Darian Durant, and a complete lapse by their pass defence allowed Dressler to break free in the first place. Jesse Lumsden ran 19 times for 137 yards, but if he hadn't lost a fumble at Saskatchewan's 20-yard line in the third quarter, or if his offensive line had given him a chance to pick up a second-and-2 with 1:31 left in the game, the game might never have come down to that play.
Meantime, the other No. 1 overall draft choice on the Ticats, slotback Chris Bauman, the former Regina Rams star, had 90 yards receiving on eight catches in his season debut. That rated a post over at The CIS Blog.