REDBLACKS’ Performance on Saturday Confirms Their Competitiveness

The Ottawa REDBLACKS were in Vancouver this past weekend to take on the BC Lions. This was the only regular-season meeting between the two teams this season. Odd, considering that there are nine teams, and they used to play home and away games regularly, but I digress.

As luck would have it, I was in Vancouver for the game. Going into the game, BC was the dominating favourite to win. In the CFL Power Rankings last week, they were ranked third, while the REDBLACKS were ranked ninth. The REDBLACKS had no chance, right? Well, no one told Ottawa that. At the end of the first quarter, the REDBLACKS were winning 6-1.

The game was early. By halftime, the score was 16-15 for Ottawa. That’s still a close game.

The REDBLACKS exploded in the third quarter, scoring 21 points and taking a 37-18 lead. The defence had three interceptions, running one back 50 yards for a touchdown. In the fourth quarter, the Lions fought back and ended up edging out the REDBLACKS 41-37.

The headlines will say BC won, and of course, that is accurate, but no one expected the REDBLACKS to give the BC Lions the fight they did. BC Lions Head Coach and former REDBLACKS coach Rick Campbell noted the REDBLACKS play everybody ‘tough’ and that the Lions didn’t overlook them.

As far as the BC Lions are concerned, this shows that the Western Division hasn’t been decided. The Lions and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are on a collision course to see who will come out on top. The quest of ‘How the West will be won’ will be one of the most intriguing storylines to close out the season.

Let’s talk about the Ottawa REDBLACKS. On paper, their record isn’t great. Frankly, it’s bad. But does it reflect the team? I don’t think so. As compared to the 2022 team, the 2023 team has major differences. In 2022, many fans were left feeling the team didn’t care or didn’t want to be there. That can’t be said in 2023. While their record isn’t stellar, one needs to look deeper.  The 2023 team has been more competitive; several games were lost in the last few plays. The record is as much of a reflection of the league’s competitiveness as it is about the team.

No one expected Saturday’s game against the BC Lions to have been as completive as it was. Respectfully, while the masses doubted the team, they never doubted themselves. And that’s the point: the REDBLACKS are significantly more competitive than last year, and while the record doesn’t reflect it, the on-field play does.

Yearly, there are comparisons between the CFL and NFL. The reality is that the CFL forces teams to play out every second as opposed to being able to easily kill the clock towards the end of the game. The ‘no lead is safe’ mantra is incredibly fitting in the CFL. Regardless of how I write this up, in the end, the REDBLACKS lost. That said, you won’t convince me that this REDBLACKS team is playing without heart, which is much more that can be said about last year’s team.

Aside from the game itself, the in-game experience at BC Place was very enjoyable. Comparatively, the REDBLACKS do some things that other teams in the CFL don’t do, such as having fans come onto the field after the game, but the Lions also do some fun stuff.

I have heard some chatter about the in-game activities at TD Place. Given the league’s size, sharing ideas would be great.

At my core, I am a fan of the league and am always interested in new ways to stimulate interest and grow the league.

Overall, from a fan perspective, this was one of the most entertaining games of the season.

The REDBLACKS return to TD Place this Friday night against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The last time they played the team in green was a close game that the REDBLACKS lost. Let’s see if the REDBLACKS can even things out on Friday.

Click here to get your tickets to Friday’s game at TP Place.