As big plays get, it doesn’t get much bigger.
Second down, on your own 10 yard line. It’s cold, it’s snowing.
It’s the CFL Championship game.
The snap comes, but you slip and fall. The double-move route you were supposed run gets tossed. Head down, full out sprint.
The ball falls from out of the dark, snowy sky, just out of the reach of the leaping cornerback’s reach, into yours. The race to the end zone culminates with a 100-yard touchdown, the longest pass play in Grey Cup history.
That was on DeVier Posey’s resume when he came to the B.C. Lions in 2018, along with a Grey Cup MVP badge for the wide receiver’s performance in the Toronto Argonauts’ 2017 upset win over the Calgary Stampeders.
B.C. Lions vs. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
4 p.m., IG Field. TV: TSN. Radio: AM730
Since then, it’s been tough. Posey signed in Montreal for 2019, had 50 catches for 780 yards and three touchdowns, but the 31-year-old signed in Hamilton for 2020. That season was wiped out by COVID, and then injuries and a young, emerging receiving corps took that opportunity away.
He’s listed as the starting wideout in front of Shaq Johnson on the B.C. Lions’ depth chart for Saturday’s game in Winnipeg.
“Words can’t really describe it. It’s been a tough road, a tough year … but I’m happy to be back out here in Surrey,” Posey said to Matt Baker of the B.C. Lions this week.
“Definitely (been) a roller coaster here for me and my family. Being in Hamilton for two years, and not playing one game … the end of the day, that’s football, and as professional football player, things work out the way they’re supposed to. I’m more than happy to be here and excited to get an opportunity.”
His big opportunity has been made bigger by the loss of the Lions’ big-play receiver, Lucky Whitehead, who’s recovering from two fractured fingers in his right hand. Posey was fourth overall in receiving touchdowns in his MVP season, and his career 14.4 yards per catch average will help stretch a field that seemingly got shorter since Whitehead’s injury.
When then-GM Ed Hervey lured the 6-foot-2, 210-pound California native arrived to B.C. in 2018, the Lions were about to embark on a late-season surge that would push them to the playoffs. A 5-6 team coming off a bye week when 5-1 over its next six games, making the post-season as the crossover team.
The Lions (4-5) would like nothing more than to do the same, but a massive challenge awaits this Saturday in Winnipeg, where they take on the league-leading Bombers (9-1), who have been on a different level than every other team this season.
“I don’t think every year is the same,” Posey said about re-creating the 2018 surge.
“I think this year is a bit different, we’ve got a bit different road. The season has been a little because of the 14 games, so we’re just trying to finish strong and finish in this tight West Division.
“Weeks like this take focus energy and effort. Anytime you get a litmus test against the best team in the league, you’ve got to put your best foot forward. The sense of the offence, the vibrations and the moods that I’m getting being a part of this (offence), I think we’ll be dialed in for this one.”
The B.C. Lions hopped on a plane and flew East on Friday to get ready to take on … the B.C. Lions.
Or, at least, it felt that way after the Winnipeg Blue Bombers signed three former Leos over the past three days. In a case of the rich getting richer, the league leaders and defending champions signed defensive back Winston Rose, kicker Sergio Castillo and running back Shaq Cooper.
The Bombers added two former all-stars in Rose and Castillo, while an injury to Andrew Harris meant they needed running back depth immediately. None of the three were listed on the depth chart for Saturday’s game, however.
Rose, who debuted under Lions coach Rick Campbell in Ottawa in 2017 before coming to B.C., led the CFL in interceptions after joining the Bombers initially in 2019. He was in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals, up and down between the active and practice squad, before being released in September.
“All it says that we’re just trying to win, we’re trying to be the best that we can be,” linebacker Adam Bighill told media. “We obviously know what Winston can bring, we know what Sergio can do kicking the ball. We’re committed to winning here, so whatever it takes, you can see we’re doing it.”
Ali Mourtada was the third kicker the Bombers have tried this season, and he’s struggled mightily. He’s just 4-for-10 overall this season, and hasn’t made anything over 30 yards. Castillo brings a steady foot and NFL-calibre leg, having signed with the New York Jets after his time in Vancouver.
How good is the Bombers defence? It’s on pace to make history.
Winnipeg has given up the fewest yards (298.9 per game) and points (12.6 per game), while leading the league in interceptions (12), fumble recoveries (10) and points off turnovers (67).
Their points-against average is the lowest allowed by any team since 1966, when Hamilton gave up just 11.4 ppg.
The defence has also given up just nine TDs this season, and their fourth-quarter defence is on pace to smash the mark for fewest points allowed, conceding just two field goals in the 39 drives against.
They’re giving up just 0.6 points in the final Q, the lowest total in history (1958-2021) and in 39 drives haven’t surrendered a touchdown — which would be unprecedented in CFL history if the streak continues in their final four games.
Of their 12 interceptions, eight have come in the fourth quarter. And five of those, in the final 2:07 of the game.
• In their first seven games, the Lions averaged 234 yards per game in first downs. But in their 30-9 loss in October, the Bombers kept B.C. to just 22 yards — total — on first downs.
“That’s part of good football — winning first down and making some big-chunk plays,” said Campbell. “We haven’t done that consistently enough. We’ve shown that we can do it, so we’ll keep working away and be better.”
• While the two teams are Nos. 1 and 2 in interceptions, both the Lions and Bombers have been ball secure, with a CFL-low 12 turnovers.
• Chris Rainey’s 114 return yards last week moved him into No. 5 all time with 10,990 yards, past Jason Armstead (10,980).
• The Lions are just 1-5 against West teams this year. Only Ottawa’s 0-5 record against divisional teams is worse. Meanwhile, the Bombers are 7-0, and have never had a perfect intradivisional record. Their best was 9-1 in 1994.