The B.C. Lions had crowded around Mathieu Betts on Friday night, celebrating in collective joy after he set a new record for sacks by a Canadian player, when the flags started flying. Yellow bits of cloth, popping into the air like Roman candles.
When the post-play fracas subsided, it was announced Sione Teuhema had been penalized for unnecessary roughness, as had Calgary Stampeders left tackle D’Antne Demery. Replays showed the Lions lineman cracking his counterpart in the jaw with an uppercut. They didn’t show the loogie the Lions claim Demery had let fly at Teuhema just moments before.
After a long break, with the officials huddling, a second misconduct penalty was handed to Teuhema, triggering an ejection and some heated words from Lions coach Rick Campbell ushering him off the field. It also turned a third-and-forever into an automatic first down, and the Stamps drive that started at their own one-yard line went 109 yards the other way for a touchdown and a 17-0 lead.
“Poise is what it came down to for me,” said Campbell. “We have to be able to function — and this is not our whole football team, by the way. There were some incidences with a very small group of people who actually aren’t bad guys. I don’t dislike them, but we have to have enough poise in the moment to be able to function and not lose our minds.
“I tell some of these guys it’s like you’re falling for the banana in the tailpipe; they got a target on you, because they know they can bait you. It’s like ‘holy shit,’ you know what I mean? . … That’s the frustrating part, is getting baited into something.
“I have problem with repeat offenders. I’m not doing justice to the team if I don’t do anything about repeat offenders. All of us have bad moments in life, you do something and you’re like, ‘I can’t believe I did that.’ But if it’s … ‘fool me once, shame on you, and twice or more, shame on me … I don’t want to lose a playoff game because of stuff like that.
“I like this football team a lot. We had a whole bunch of guys doing correct things out there and I don’t want it wrecked by a couple of really unnecessary penalties.”
All told, the Lions were flagged 10 times for 117 yards in penalties, and are now the clubhouse leaders in penalty yards (1,452) and defensive penalties (64). Betts, after getting his 18th sack of the year, was also flagged twice for roughing the passer and once for offside.
The ‘P’ word even cropped up with Dave Dickenson post-game, affirming Campbell’s view of what transpired.
“We kept our poise,” said the Calgary coach. “I think that they took the penalties they kind of kept our drives alive.”
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While the Lions have had their problems with penalties this year, it’s usually been during the play, not after. Friday’s game was a little more heated once the whistles had gone, with more than one Lion getting flagged for crossing the line.
There is recent history between these two, with Calgary linebacker Cam Judge punching B.C. receiver Lucky Whitehead in the face after a game in August 2022, earning a suspension for his efforts. Whitehead and a cadre of teammates then left their locker-room and waited to confront the Stamps in the parking lot outside the team facility in Calgary.
“Maybe it got a little chippy,” conceded Lions QB Vernon Adams Jr. “I heard the guy spit on our guy’s face … I don’t know. We have to be smarter. We know as a team, we can’t play their game.”
The Lions have two weeks off before hosting the West Division semifinal on Nov. 4 at B.C. Place, and there’s a good chance they could face this same Stampeders team in that game.
“We know we got to come to work. We know we can’t play like that in November,” said Adams. “I hope we do see them. They’ve been playing really good football these last couple of weeks.”
Campbell said it was clear one team wanted Friday’s game more than the other. And it wasn’t the one that had already clinched a home playoff game.
“I saw on several plays, it looked like a team that was a little bit hungrier and playing for their playoff lives,” he said. “And then once we got down, I saw some guys that were — I’m not questioning their effort — but I’m questioning their urgency. I don’t think urgency will be a question mark in a playoff game, but who knows?”
Saturday, Nov. 4
West Division Semifinal
TBA at B.C. Lions
4 p.m., B.C. Place, TV: TSN, Radio: AM730
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